Foundation seeks help funding fellowship program

first_img November 1, 2002 Managing Editor Regular News Foundation seeks help funding fellowship program Foundation seeks help funding fellowship program Mark D. Killian Managing EditorIn an effort to help fund its Legal Aid Advocates Fellowship Program, The Florida Bar Foundation is asking the state’s law firms and corporations to provide matching grants to help support its two-year public interest fellowships for recent law graduates at IOTA-funded legal assistance organizations.Gifts ranging from $6,500 to $26,000 will be paired with IOTA program funds to generate matches of $52,000 for each Legal Aid Advocates fellow. These gifts from the firms and corporations are needed to offset cuts in matching funds beginning with the Fellows class of 2003-05 from the program’s national funding partner, the Washington, D.C., based Equal Justice Works, according to Foundation President Bill Thompson of Jacksonville.“These grants will enable fine young lawyers to provide legal service to our most vulnerable citizens who otherwise could not afford it,” Thompson said. “It is a way for Florida law firms and corporations to give back to the community, to touch the lives of others, lift the spirit of our profession, and make our country stronger.”Thompson said the Legal Aid Advocates Fellowship Program addresses several aspects of the Foundation’s chief mission of expanding and improving representation and advocacy on behalf of the poor in civil legal matters by placing law graduates where they can make a difference in the community and improving lives of low-income individuals and families in Florida through legal effort and community lawyering. The fellowships also mobilize the next generation of public interest lawyers to work for those who otherwise would be denied access to the justice system, Thompson said.Examples of projects undertaken by Legal Aid Advocates fellows include:• Laverne Largie, from Nova Southeastern University, who works through Legal Aid of Broward County to enhance the Welfare-to-Work program and help low-income residents obtain jobs with suitable pay and education to achieve a higher standard of living. Her work focuses on establishing alliances with other service providers, including job training, domestic violence support, shelters, and consumer and financial agencies to provide a network of services that will help individuals remove employment barriers.• Merribeth Bohanen from Boston University who works through Legal Services of North Florida to secure safe, efficient, and affordable housing for the poor in Franklin, Gulf, and Gadsden counties.• Barbara Stallings from Stetson University College of Law who works through Bay Area Legal Services to provide community based legal advocacy for the relative caregiver community to enhance the goals of family preservation and protection of children.• Cathleen Caron from American University who works through the Florida Legal Services Migrant Farmworker Project in Belle Glade to provide outreach to the workers in the tomato industry throughout the state to enforce their rights under federal labor laws to fair compensation and safe working conditions.• Melissa Zelniker from Florida State University who works through Legal Aid Service of Broward County to bridge the gap between the juvenile delinquency and dependency systems for children who are grossly underrepresented.Costs supported by the program include an annual salary of $37,500, an annual loan forgiveness stipend of $5,500, fellowship support and training per year of $6,000, and $3,000 to the EJW for program administration costs.Nearly $900,000 in IOTA funds have been awarded for fellowships since Foundation funding began in 1999. Several key Florida law firms and The Florida Bar are funding partners with the Foundation along with a number of other Florida law firms which contribute directly to the local legal aid program hosting the fellow. Fellows are currently working at 14 legal aid and legal assistance programs across the state in public interest projects ranging from environmental justice to bridging the gap between the juvenile delinquency and dependency systems.The Foundation launched the Legal Aid Advocates Fellowship fundraising campaign in September and it will run through early December. The drive is spearheaded by the Foundation’s Development Committee, chaired by Miami attorney John Thornton, Jr. Other Foundation development committee members include Georgie Angones, Jim Baxter, Bruce Blackwell, Darryl Bloodworth, Howard Coker, Ham Cooke, Bruce Culpepper, Abe Fischler, Bill Henry, Co-chair Kathy McLeroy, Miles McGrane, Roosevelt Randolph, Skip Smith, Neal Sonnet, Mike Stafford, and Thompson.For more information about the Foundation’s Legal Aid Advocates Fellowship Program and the fundraising campaign, contact: Jane Curran, The Florida Bar Foundation, 109 East Church Street, Suite 405, P.O. Box 1553, Orlando 32802-1553, telephone (407) 843-0045, e-mail e-mail: [email protected]last_img read more