We are pleased to announce that due to unforeseen factors, LFW is going to make a round of limited special grants.
We recently found out that thanks to a settlement from Bank of America, LFW is going to receive approximately $6.9M for the purpose of home foreclosure prevention and community redevelopment legal aid. (This was a national settlement, and all IOLTA programs in the U.S. received funds based on their state’s poverty population.) At the same time, $1.2M in cy pres funds from the Judd v. AT&T settlement remains unallocated. Now that we are in the final year of funding the prison and re-entry projects that the Court originally approved, LFW will make a final disbursement of those funds to a sub-set of the original grantees.
While these new opportunities are welcome additions to the work of the Alliance for Equal Justice, due to the unique requirements of the funding sources they are restricted to narrow fields of work. So it is unlikely we can use them for general purpose legal aid grants, with the exception of organizations that have already engaged in this type of work. See below for more information about these areas and our initial plans for distribution.
Prison and Re-entry Projects
Per the final Court Order, only programs that originally received funding under the Judd settlement will be eligible to apply for these funds. We plan to issue a request for Letters of Inquiry (LOI) in early May, which would then be reviewed by an independent advisory panel of subject matter experts which would make recommendations to the LFW Board of Trustees and a certain number of projects be invited to apply for a full grant for a project 1-2 years in length.
Bank of America Settlement Funds
As we mentioned above, these funds are highly restricted to 1) foreclosure prevention and 2) community redevelopment. The settlement agreement does not specify how much money must be used for each area. It does say the funds must be used for legal aid. We think it is likely that the LFW board will put a greater emphasis on community redevelopment than foreclosure prevention. It is also likely that LFW will grant a portion of the funds now and retain a portion of the funds to expand or continue successful projects down the road.
LFW is using the following definitions as a guide:
Foreclosure prevention legal assistance: Direct legal counsel, advice, representation, mediation and prevention services to borrowers who are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure.
Community redevelopment assistance: Legal assistance, primarily through policy and impact work, transactional law and representation, that seeks to revitalize or stabilize low-income communities (rather than individual clients) and has far-ranging and sustainable impact on the communities served. Examples of community redevelopment in legal aid could include, but are not limited to:
As with the final Judd funds, we will issue a request for Letters of Inquiry in May and a panel of subject matter experts will review the proposals and make recommendations to the LFW Board of Trustees, which will determine which programs should be invited to submit a full application.
We will post the request for Letters of Inquiry and application information on the Legal Foundation of Washington’s website in the Special Grants section by early May. We also plan to host a conference call to answer questions, tentatively scheduled for Monday, May 9 at 2:00 p.m. Updated information will be posted on the LFW website’s Special Grants section.