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Bar foundation awards grants totaling $258,000

Organizations that provide legal services and education throughout California were awarded 37 grants totaling $258,000 from the California Bar Foundation. Seventeen grants — totaling $120,000 — were awarded programs in rural communities in such counties as Fresno, Nevada, Placer, and Tulare, 11 — totaling $65,000 — will support language access projects for limited English-proficiency clients, and seven will fund “diversity pipeline” programs with grants totaling $35,500. Some grants overlap and some cover multiple years.

“By investing in an array of impressive and innovative projects that increase access to justice and better educate Californians about their legal rights and responsibilities, the foundation acts as a catalyst for building a better justice system for all Californians,” said Mario Camara, president of the foundation’s board of directors.

“With many Californians struggling financially, the need for legal services to help individuals facing a home foreclosure, in need of public benefits, and having difficulty accessing health care is greater than ever. The foundation is acutely aware of these challenges and has prioritized its grant-making to support projects in areas — such as rural outreach and language access programs — that are in particular need of assistance.”

Founded in 1990, the foundation annually awards grants to California organizations conducting innovative law-related projects and scholarships to outstanding California law school students. Since beginning its grants program in 1991, it has distributed more than $5 million in grants for law-related access to justice, education and outreach projects to community organizations, legal aid agencies, courts, bar associations and the State Bar of California.

For the first time, the foundation is awarding multi-year grants for three projects: Casa Cornelia Legal Services’ Detained Unaccompanied Minors Program, the Center for Community Solutions’ East County Solutions for Safety Project, and the Public Interest Clearinghouse’s Rural Education and Access to the Law Program. By awarding two years of funding to these projects, the foundation seeks to recognize particularly effective programs within the foundation’s grant-making priority areas while also easing the administrative burden of sustaining a program on these financially stretched nonprofit organizations.

Grants to the rural programs, where residents often are geographically isolated, reflect the growing gap between the need and the help available outside the state’s metropolitan areas. For example, the foundation’s grant to the Family Resource Center of Truckee will bring a bilingual lawyer into the Community Legal Center of Truckee-Tahoe, which was previously staffed by a law student, providing much need legal assistance to low-income residents.

In support of limited English speakers, the foundation is funding an innovative project run by Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence in Santa Clara County that will increase the number of languages served from 35 to up to 45, allowing a diverse array of clients to access legal help on domestic violence issues.

In addition to launching a new diversity scholarship for incoming first-year law students from communities historically underrepresented in the legal profession, the foundation has made increasing the number of minority lawyers a priority in its grant-making. The “diversity pipeline” grants will support efforts to provide meaningful legal education and mentoring that will improve diversity among lawyers. For example, a statewide program called For People of Color Inc. will receive $5,000 for its Law School Admissions Project, which provides resources for minority students seeking entry to law school or preparing for the bar exam.

A full listing of the grant recipients and their projects is available at

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