The Virginia Law Foundation is thrilled to award more than $700,000 in grants to 32 organizations this year. Since the establishment of our grants program in 1984, the Virginia Law Foundation has distributed more than $28 million in grants to initiatives and nonprofits throughout Virginia aligning with our mission to promote the Rule of Law, access to justice, and law-related education. Learn more about our 2023 grant recipients below.
APPALACHIAN SCHOOL OF LAW — Medical Legal Partnership — $25,000
The Appalachian School of Law (ASL) continues their Medical-Legal Partnership with Ballad Health, an integrated healthcare system serving Southwest Virginia. This partnership maintains the goals of improving access to justice for medical patients with unmet legal needs and addressing healthcare demands attributable to or exacerbated by unmet legal needs. Under the supervision of licensed attorneys, ASL students will provide free legal services to Ballad’s low-income patients, which gives the students an experiential learning opportunity. To better understand the impact of this program, Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business will contribute analytics to measure the program’s success.
BLUE RIDGE LEGAL SERVICES — Free Civil Legal Assistance for Low-Income Seniors — $25,000
Blue Ridge Legal Services is a charitable legal aid program committed to eliminating poverty-based inequities in the civil justice system by providing high-quality legal advice and representation to low-income residents of the Shenandoah and Roanoke Valleys. This project will provide free legal assistance in the form of legal information, legal advice and brief services, and direct representation to low-income seniors in the Central Shenandoah Valley, namely, the counties of Rockingham, Augusta, Page, Highland, and the cities of Harrisonburg, Staunton, and Waynesboro. The project will target seniors with critical legal needs, with a special focus on elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation cases.
CANCERLINC — Access to Justice for Latino and Spanish-Speaking Cancer Patients in Central & Southside Virginia — $10,000
CancerLINC provides access to justice for low-income cancer patients who otherwise would not have attorneys, financial professionals, and others to help them address the non-medical problems they face as a result of their cancer diagnosis — medical debt, eviction, bankruptcy, employment insecurity, and similar challenges. Cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanics and Latinos, and due to disproportionate poverty and other healthcare barriers, Hispanics are especially vulnerable to cancer inequalities. This grant will support the continued development of bilingual resources and programs to better support underserved Latino cancer patients in Central and Southside Virginia and will provide approximately 45 Latino cancer patients and family members with access to pro bono legal and financial resources these patients could not afford otherwise.
CAPITAL AREA IMMIGRANTS’ RIGHTS COALITION — Virginia Justice Project — $20,000
The Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (CAIR) strives to ensure equal justice for all immigrant adults and children at risk of detention and deportation in the capital region and beyond through direct legal representation, know-your-rights presentations, impact litigation, advocacy, and the enlistment and training of intern attorneys. The Virginia Justice Project ensures that public defenders and court appointed counsel in Virginia are educated regarding the immigration consequences of crimes. This greatly increases the likelihood that an indigent noncitizen in Virginia will have access to defense counsel competent to advise them about the potential adverse immigration consequences of their case.
During the ninth year of this program, CAIR will train 600 Virginia criminal defense attorneys through at least two virtual trainings, produce and maintain written materials on an ongoing basis, and execute necessary trainings to support the 315 Virginia public defender attorneys in the 25 public defender offices and the 2,500 court-appointed attorneys in Virginia. This project will impact more than 3,000 indigent non-citizen Virginia residents involved in the criminal justice system.
CENTRAL VIRGINIA LEGAL AID SOCIETY — Academic Medical Legal Partnership — $25,000
Central Virginia Legal Aid Society (CVLAS) provides legal representation and preventative community legal education to low income and elderly clients in civil law cases at no charge, aiding vulnerable residents with legal issues relating to consumer, domestic violence, employment, elder care, family, health, housing, and public benefits throughout Central Virginia. To expand their mission, CVLAS is implementing an Academic Medical Legal Partnership (A-MLP) at the Health Hub and launching a pilot project to improve access to justice for the underserved community members in Richmond’s East End neighborhoods. CVLAS will create an interprofessional learning environment for pre-professional learners (students engaged in the study of law, nursing, or medicine) to educate them about emergent medical-legal issues and contribute to the evidence base for the MLP model as a health equity intervention.
COUNCIL ON LEGAL EDUCATION OPPORTUNITY, INC. — Pre-Law Summer Institute — $10,000
Founded in 1968 to expand opportunities for underrepresented students to attend law school, the Council on Legal Education Opportunity, Inc. (CLEO) prepares students to succeed in law school and beyond. Since the organization’s inception, more than 30,000 students have participated in CLEO’s programs and joined the legal profession. CLEO’s Pre-Law Summer Institute (PLSI) will create a challenging yet supportive academic environment for 40-50 diverse Virginian students entering law school to acquire foundational knowledge and confidence in their ability to perform and succeed in law school.
DRIVE-TO-WORK — Driver’s License Restoration — $25,000
Drive-To-Work (DTW) assists low income and previously incarcerated persons to restore their driving privileges so they can drive to work, maintain a job, and improve their lives and communities at-large. Many DTW clients face extreme challenges due to re-entry employment issues, and not having a valid driver’s license is a serious employment-related problem that negatively affects individuals, their families, and the community. With support from the Virginia Law Foundation, DTW will resolve issues causing license suspensions by significantly reducing the financial barrier preventing individuals in obtaining legal representation.
FAIRFAX LAW FOUNDATION — Northern Virginia Pro Bono Law Center Neighborhood Outreach Program — $20,000
The Northern Virginia Pro Bono Law Center of the Fairfax Law Foundation provides legal assistance to poverty and low-income residents through their Neighborhood Outreach Program. As part of this program, volunteer lawyers meet virtually or travel to partnering sites throughout the community to help those most in need and provide free civil legal analysis, advice, and referral information. The Fairfax Law Foundation’s long-standing partnerships with community organizations enable pro bono attorneys to meet with potential populations seeking legal aid in their facilities, broadening their impact on those who would otherwise be denied access to legal service. The partnership between the law center and each of the neighborhood sites is crucial as it helps the Neighborhood Outreach Program reach its intended beneficiaries and alleviate the burden on low-income clients.
FREEKIND — Human Trafficking Survivor Identification Expansion Initiative — $25,000
Freekind works to prevent human trafficking and support those it impacts on their journey to freedom. With this 2023 grant, Freekind is expanding the availability of their Offramps Program to more jails in Hampton Roads and Richmond and working to increase their reach to criminal justice professionals in order to reduce harm to victims and accelerate their access to justice. The Offramps Program improves access to justice for victims of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation by strengthening criminal justice partnerships to more effectively identify victims who would otherwise go unidentified or misidentified, and by advocating for alternative sentencing through restorative services rather than increased incarceration. To aid this effort, Freekind will further develop their survivor empowerment services and programming in Richmond with the goal of training at least six volunteer victim advocates to support survivors.
GREATER RICHMOND BAR FOUNDATION — Statewide Pro Bono Campaign — $30,000
Committed to expanding access to justice, the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation (GRBF) mobilizes, trains, and connects attorneys with pro bono clients. With the support of this grant, the GRBF aims to create, shoot, and produce a high-quality video to be used as part of a coordinated and professionally produced statewide pro bono marketing campaign to inspire increased participation in pro bono work. While judges and lawyers regularly espouse the importance of pro bono service, the number of volunteers in Virginia has remained relatively flat. Through this campaign, the GRBF will use new approaches to pro bono recruiting to create cultural change while supplementing existing outreach efforts to inspire increased participation in pro bono.
JAMESTOWN REDISCOVERY FOUNDATION — Legacies of 1619: Law and Race at Jamestown — $25,000
The Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation (JRF) is dedicated to uncovering, preserving, and sharing Jamestown’s diverse history and its contributions to the foundations of America. As part of this mission, JRF’s Legacies of 1619: Law and Race at Jamestown program will expand upon current educational offerings focusing on two major themes: the origins of Rule of Law in America and its evolution throughout the 17th and 18th centuries and the intersection of race and law through the gradual, systematic development of codified slavery in America. With support from the Virginia Law Foundation, JRF will enhance existing tours, develop new living history programs, and offer in-person and virtual teacher development workshops.
JAZZ4JUSTICE — Jazz4Justice Concerts — $8,000
Through collaborative partnerships with the legal community, the business community, the music community, and universities throughout Virginia, Jazz4Justice raises public awareness about the justice gap and music education. This grant will support Jazz4Justice in using music as a vehicle to connect communities, educate audiences on the justice gap, and fundraise to support legal aid organizations helping those most in need. Several times a year, university, college, or community college music programs will host a concert featuring jazz music, and the local bar or bar foundation will solicit sponsors and promote the concert to the community. Proceeds from the event, minus expenses, are divided between the bar foundation/local legal aid and the music program.
JOHN MARSHALL CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY & CIVICS — Civics250: A Common Cause for All — $50,000
The John Marshall Center (JMC) preserves and honors the founding legacy of John Marshall by engaging and educating learners of all ages about our constitutional history, the Rule of Law, and civics. Through partnerships with the Virginia Museum of History & Culture and the Virginia Law Foundation, JMC will empower learners of all ages with the knowledge and tools necessary to be civic-ready in Virginia. Through an institute focused on marking America’s 250th anniversary, JMC will convene educators, legal experts, historians, and students to strengthen thought leadership in Virginia and explore the Rule of Law in accurate, inclusive, and inspiring ways.
LEGAL AID JUSTICE CENTER — Charlottesville-Albemarle Bar Association (CABA) Volunteer Lawyer Program — $15,000
By partnering with communities and clients to achieve justice, the Legal Aid Justice Center (LAJC) dismantles systems that create and perpetuate poverty. Their CABA Volunteer Lawyer Program is a community-responsive project that provides a structure for attorneys to deliver high-impact free legal services that transform the lives of their neighbors while deepening attorneys’ pre-existing commitment to justice-seeking work. This grant from the Virginia Law Foundation will support this program’s expansion to provide time-sensitive, critical legal support to Afghan evacuees residing in Virginia who presently lack access to legal services and whose ability to obtain long-term protection in the U.S. is imperiled. CABA will collaborate with state and national partners to ensure competent and compassionate pro bono legal service provision to fulfill the asylum, SIV, and TPS needs of Afghan evacuees in Virginia.
LEGAL AID SOCIETY OF EASTERN VIRGINIA — Student Disability Rights Project — $10,000
The Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia (LASEV) promotes the equal application of justice and removes impediments to fairness for the low-income and vulnerable families of eastern Virginia. While meeting the individual legal needs of clients, LASEV aims to challenge systemic injustice and the root causes of poverty and inequality. Their Disability Rights Unit focuses on outreach to parents of children with disabilities in their service area, and this 2023 grant will significantly expand this program and increase the number of special education and student discipline cases involving disabled students.
LEGAL SERVICES OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA — Case Management System— $12,500
To better provide access to justice for disadvantaged individuals and communities, Legal Services of Northern Virginia (LSNV) will use this grant to implement a new case management system, which will ultimately meet the demands of applicants, clients, and pro bono attorneys. With the demand for their services being greater now than before the start of the pandemic, this essential tool will enable LSNV to manage more effectively the high demand of cases and clients while operating more efficiently internally. In addition, this tool will greatly enhance communication with clients, create greater accessibility for staff, and measure data in real time to enhance reporting.
LIBRARY OF VIRGINIA — Preserving the 1807 Aaron Burr Treason Trial Papers — $70,000
The Library of Virginia, founded in 1823, houses the most comprehensive collection of materials on Virginia government, history, and culture in the world and is the oldest cultural organization in the Commonwealth. In line with its mission to acquire, preserve, and promote access to unique collections of Virginia’s history, this grant will support the Library of Virginia’s conservation, digitization, and public accessibility of the Aaron Burr Trial, which was the only time in American history that a court tried such a high-level official of the United States for treason. This conservation effort will preserve 79 documents and ensure they are stabilized for public programs, exhibitions, and other displays in a continued effort to educate Virginians about the nation’s legal history.
MASON VETERANS AND SERVICEMEMBERS LEGAL CLINIC — M-VETS American Legion Walk-In Legal Clinic — $30,000
The M-VETS mission is to provide free legal representation to active-duty members of the armed forces, veterans, and their dependent family members, while offering law students the opportunity to receive supervised, practical legal experience by advocating for those who serve or have served in United States military forces. Funding from the Virginia Law Foundation will enable M-VETS to expand its pro bono legal services to assist a greater number of veterans and service members by adding an additional full-time staff attorney to its current team. As the veteran population in Virginia grows, the need for legal services will continue to increase, and additional staff allows M-VETS to expand the range of services offered to include criminal defense and employment services, such as traffic or misdemeanor cases, enabling M-VETS to become a full-service clinic to deserving veterans and service members.
MONTPELIER FOUNDATION — Public Constitutional Initiatives and Education — $15,000
Montpelier embraces its unique identity as a monument to James Madison, a museum of American history, and a center for constitutional education that engages the public with the enduring legacy of Madison’s most powerful idea: government by the people. As the lifelong home of James Madison, Father of the Constitution and architect of the Bill of Rights, Montpelier’s mission is to communicate Madison’s role in creating our modern, democratic government. To meet the need for nonpartisan Constitutional education, Montpelier seeks to provide educational programming that will equip Americans with Constitutional knowledge, empowering them to apply that knowledge through increased civic participation. The Virginia Law Foundation grant will support the Director of the Center for the Constitution and the Manager of Education Programs in bolstering free Constitutional programming for students, teachers, and community members and fostering new partnerships with civic-focused organizations.
RESOLUTION VIRGINIA — Access to Co-Parenting Education — $8,000
Resolution Virginia is a consortium of non-profit community-based centers working to help Virginians resolve conflict constructively. Staff and affiliates provide affordable mediation, training, conflict coaching, classes, and restorative justice services to community members in need. State law requires parties to any petition where a child whose custody, visitation, or support is contested to attend an educational seminar that addresses the effects of separation or divorce on children, parenting responsibilities, options for conflict resolution, and financial responsibilities. This court-ordered seminar can be a sincere financial hardship for individuals and families, and this grant will support indigent parents by offsetting most of the cost of the Access to Co-Parenting Education program by reducing the cost to $0-25. This critically important seminar educates separating or separated parents on how to co-parent their children in a supportive and non-confrontational manner, and in turn, their children experience the emotional and financial benefits of having both parents involved in their lives.
VIRGINIA CIVICS — We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution Teacher Training Cohort Professional Development Series — $20,000
Virginia Civics empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia through constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. Using a rigorous and proven professional development program, Virginia Civics will train elementary, middle, and high school teachers on using the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution curriculum to increase teacher and student knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, the Rule of Law, institutions of government, rights and responsibilities, and citizenship. Renowned scholars will facilitate development seminars across a fully funded five-day Summer Institute, and multiple one-day follow-up trainings in the fall, winter, and spring. The We the People curriculum has been fully mapped to Virginia’s Standards of Learning requirements and serves as an effective Performance-Based Assessment for teachers.
VIRGINIA HISPANIC FOUNDATION — Bilingual Civil and Immigration Assistance Project — $10,000
Established in 2003 as a 501c3 partner to the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Hispanic Chamber Foundation (VAHF) creates, promotes, and enhances the educational, social, and financial well-being of Latinos and supports cross-cultural economic growth in Virginia. Last year, and with support from the Virginia Law Foundation, the VAHF developed a hybrid model of the Civil & Immigration Assistance Project (CIAP) and offered pro bono legal services to an especially vulnerable community. Support from the 2023 grant will enable the VAHF to continue offering pro bono legal services through an accessible network of pro bono legal clinics, providing bilingual services and information to the at-risk Hispanic/Latinx population across the state, and increasing law firm partnerships to support increased capacity of clients.
VIRGINIA JUDGES AND LAWYERS ASSISTANCE PROGRAM — Wellness Conference — $20,000
Virginia Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (VJLAP) provides confidential, non-disciplinary assistance to lawyers, judges, law students, and legal professionals who are experiencing professional impairment as a result of substance abuse or mental health problems. VJLAP’s services are designed to promote recovery, protect the client, prevent disciplinary problems for the lawyer, support their families and professional associates, and strengthen the profession. To better equip legal professional with information and tools for detecting, intervening early, and addressing substance use and mental health concerns, VJLAP will present the 20th Annual VJLAP Fall Retreat, a multi-day conferences for judges, lawyers, law students, and other legal professionals. This retreat provides Virginia’s legal professionals with opportunities for professional enhancement, wellness skill-building, and community-building.
VIRGINIA LAW SCHOOLS — Public Service Internships — $60,000
Supported by the Virginia Law Foundation since 1989, public service internships for first- and second-year law students help bring to light the importance of public interest and pro bono work. Each of Virginia’s eight American Bar Association-accredited law schools receives funding for public service internships during the summer. Under the supervision of an attorney, each student’s work varies widely, depending on the missions and caseloads of their host organizations. Some students gain experience working on individual client matters, and others work on larger projects in an organization’s service area.
VIRGINIA LAW-RELATED EDUCATION INSTITUTE — Virginia/DC High School Mock Trial — $10,000
Through regional mock trial competitions that culminate in the Virginia/DC High School Mock Trial Competition, the Virginia Law-Related Education Institute (VLRE) develops students’ analytical thinking skills as they explore fundamental concepts related to the law and government through unique and authentic learning opportunities. The Virginia Law Foundation’s 2023 grant will enable the VLRE to expand their programs and ensure high-quality consistent experiences for all participants across the Commonwealth. It will also support the development of an awareness campaign to reach and engage more educators in an effort to grow regional competitions to include southwestern and central Virginia.
VIRGINIA LAWYERS FOR CHILDREN — Child Advocate Education — $10,000
Virginia Lawyers for Children is dedicated to serving the legal needs of at-risk children and to providing excellence in legal and social services to children in the court system. Children in abuse, neglect, contested custody and delinquency matters get an attorney to represent their best interests, but training for these attorneys is lacking, leading to inconsistent quality representation. Virginia Lawyers for Children have created a curriculum based on the “Standards to Govern Guardians Ad Litem” promulgated by the Virginia Supreme Court, to significantly raise the quality of child representation. With support from the Virginia Law Foundation, Virginia Lawyers for Children will create and record courses in six key competency areas, and by improving the skills of lawyers who represent children and by cultivating partnerships between lawyers and other child welfare professionals, they will promote safety, permanency, and success for the children served.
VIRGINIA LEGAL AID SOCIETY — Protection for Domestic Violence Survivors — $21,000
Virginia Legal Aid Society’s (VLAS) mission is to resolve the serious legal problems of low-income people, promote economic and family stability, reduce poverty through effective legal assistance, and champion equal justice. With support from this grant, VLAS will continue to provide legal representation, advice, and education to help low income, domestic violence survivors by obtaining protective orders from their abusers, removing significant barriers to independence, and providing legal support that enables survivors to build independent lives from their abusers. In addition, VLAS helps these survivors resolve landlord disputes, which prevents evictions, obtain unemployment benefits, obtain divorces, manage child custody issues, and other critically important causes that support the overall well-being of each client.
VIRGINIA MUSEUM OF HISTORY & CULTURE — Becoming Citizens — $16,890
As an institution committed to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the Commonwealth’s history, the Virginia Museum of History & Culture connects people to America’s past and present to inspire future generations—and future citizens. Through Becoming Citizens, a citizenship preparation course, the VMHC utilizes their unparalleled collection of historical artifacts and serves as a unique educational setting for new Americans as they learn about the fundamental legal structures and principles of our country, including the Rule of Law. Support from the Virginia Law Foundation will fund one year of this program.
VIRGINIA POVERTY LAW CENTER — Annual Statewide Legal Aid Conference— $40,000
The Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC) breaks down systemic barriers that keep low-income Virginians in the cycle of poverty through advocacy, education, and litigation. Each year, the VPLC holds the Statewide Legal Aid Conference to provide CLE-certified trainings on poverty law issues, including consumer, health, family, housing, and other areas of civil poverty law, and this grant will help underwrite costs associated with the three-day event. This conference has become the premier poverty legal education conference in Virginia, and with the expanded hybrid model, even more people can attend either in-person or remotely to learn how to best support their low-income clients and obtain their required CLE credits at no cost to them or their legal aid organization.
VIRGINIA STATE BAR DIVERSITY CONFERENCE — Oliver Hill/Samuel Tucker Pre-Law Institute — $15,000
The Virginia State Bar Diversity Conference fosters and encourages diversity and inclusion in admission to the bar and advancement in the legal profession and in the judiciary. Named for legendary civil rights attorneys Oliver Hill and Samuel Tucker, the Hill Tucker Pre-Law Institute is presented annually and seeks to increase diversity in the legal profession by reaching future lawyers at an early age. For one week, diverse and academically at-risk high school students in Virginia stay on a college campus and attend mock classes and seminars on a variety of topics, including but not limited to, career opportunities in the law, test taking strategies, and the college admissions process. Support from this grant enables this Institute to be offered at no cost to all attendees.
VIRGINIA STATE BAR SENIOR LAWYERS CONFERENCE — Professionalism/Civility/Mentoring Video Series —$6,000
This video series is a collaborative project by the VSB Senior Lawyers Conference (SLC) and the Litigation Section to support optimal civility and professionalism in applying the Rule of Law in Virginia. Featuring video interviews with judges in Virginia at all levels in the state and federal court system, respected lawyers, experienced mentors, bar leaders, and law professors, this series is intended to educate and deter lawyers from engaging in conduct that demeans the practice of law, is detrimental to a spirit of congeniality, fosters incivility in appearances before the court, creates unnecessary stress in the successful practice of law, or detracts from the public’s respect for the law, legal process, and the legal profession. This year’s grant will support the creation of two trailer videos to assure maximum awareness in the legal community and broad viewership of this multi-year project.
VIRGINIA VICTIM ASSISTANCE NETWORK — Crime Victim Assistance Services — $20,000
Virginia Victim Assistance Network (VVAN) advocates for the needs of crime victims, provides victim assistance training for professionals, is the Commonwealth’s statewide membership organization for victim/witness advocates and other victim services professionals. Each year, its membership organizations assist over 75,000 victims of crime. The Virginia Law Foundation’s grant will support the Victim Assistance Academies (Basic and Advanced) and Directors’ Forum, which are annual, comprehensive trainings for both beginning and experienced crime victim advocates to serve victims of crime in Virginia with current, evidence-based practices that promote access to justice, amplify victims’ needs, and minimize the re-traumatization often inherent within the legal system. This 2023 grant will also support the Legal Services Program, a newly reinstated programmatic initiative for the VVAN, which provides free legal services to victims of crime across the Commonwealth.