By JASON GREENBERG
Ninety-nine nonprofit programs across New York have received grants totaling more than $580,000 from The New York Bar Foundation this year.
“Contributions enabled us to provide at least one grant to each Judicial District across New York State,” notes Lucia Whisenand, who chairs the Grant Committee. “Unfortunately, there is still significant need for resources to provide legal representation to the underserved.”
Many of the organizations funded by The Foundation provide essential legal services to low-income individuals. “They impact quality-of-life issues, such as senior homelessness prevention, human trafficking, immigration, veterans programs, wage justice, re-entry and domestic violence,” explains John H. Gross, president of The Foundation.
“Programs supporting children and teens include those focusing on children with disabilities, teen dating violence, child sexual abuse and exploitation, transitioning from foster care, broken adoptions, and youth courts,” Whisenand states.
Funding for the grants comes from the generous contributions to The Foundation by lawyers, law firms, corporations and others. “The collective impact of The Foundation’s donors complements local organizational efforts,” explains Whisenand.
New York State Bar Association section and individual gifts make a positive impact on these programs. Through the generosity of the Association’s General Practice Section, $25,000 was allocated for multiple pro bono initiatives.
Among the recipients is the Veteran’s Pro Bono Project of Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. The project helps veterans file fully developed claims for Veterans Affairs disability benefits, and assists with other VA issues, such as military discharge upgrades. The project is innovative in that it is based at the VA Medical Center in Canandaigua where veterans can consult with pro bono attorneys at the same location where they receive other veterans services. The project uses Rochester-based volunteer attorneys to serve a rural veteran population in counties with significantly fewer attorneys available to provide pro bono legal services.
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