Mass. Bar Foundation Grants $2.6M to 59 Bay State Nonprofits

October 8, 2020 — The Massachusetts Bar Foundation recently announced it awarded $2.6 million to 59 nonprofit organizations across the state to support 93 programs that address domestic violence, child advocacy, housing, immigration, consumer debt, and other issues.

Richard J. Grahn, president of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation (MBF), said, “The MBF is proud to support our 2020 grant recipients, many of whom have been and will continue to be working on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

MBF is one of three charitable entities in Massachusetts that distributes funds from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program to support projects that offer civil legal services to people who could not afford them or which aim to improve the administration of justice.

The MBF grants support efforts to provide direct legal services, including support for homelessness prevention, domestic violence programs, education advocacy, and immigration assistance, as well as the administration of justice, including court-connected mediation, conciliation and lawyer of the day programs.

Among those receiving grants were the following:

  • Children's Law Center of Massachusetts , Lynn, $65,000 to provide a comprehensive approach to child advocacy, implementing a wide range of legal and related services to children in MA. Services include direct representation, information and referral, technical assistance and training to attorneys, parents, and youth-serving professionals; community outreach and education; and systemic advocacy.

  • Community Legal Aid, Springfield, $30,000 to obtain protective orders, divorce, safe custody and visitation arrangements, and child support for low-income custodial parents. The project provides advice, representation, and community legal education sessions for individuals and families who have experienced domestic violence or have other complex family law problems.

  • De Novo, Cambridge, $33,000 to assist victims of domestic violence and their children in securing long-term protection from abuse, safe custody and visitation arrangements, child and spousal support, and access to health care. Funds will also be used to recruit, train, and supervise pro bono attorneys to handle domestic violence cases, as well as for various outreach activities.

  • Dove, Quincy, $25,000 to provide direct legal assistance through advice, document preparation, and/or limited representation to domestic violence survivors primarily in Norfolk County.

  • Prisoners’ Legal Services, Boston, $30,000 to provide advocacy to prisoners who have been assaulted by correctional staff. The project creates documentation of all instances where force or other acts of staff misconduct are used in a manner that violates prison regulations and other significant prisoners' rights.

  • Quabbin Mediation, Orange, $10,000 to provide free mediation services for small claims cases in Orange and Eastern Hampshire District Courts, and referrals from the Franklin County Probate & Family Court's Orange sessions. Veteran mediators, trained through Quabbin's Veteran Mediation Program, will be utilized for any cases involving veterans.

  • Safe Passage, Northampton, $22,000 To provide legal assistance to low-income survivors of domestic violence. Services will be provided by a staff attorney and a panel of reduced fee attorneys who provide legal consultation, advice, and representation to clients.

  • South Coastal Counties Legal Services, Brockton, Fall River, New Bedford, $55,000 To provide direct representation immigration legal services to eligible clients in the Greater Brockton area. Services have recently expanded to providing assistance to unaccompanied minors residing in Bristol County and to adding Know Your Rights trainings throughout the region.

  • WE CAN, Harwich Port, $16,800 to provide free legal consultations to low-income women of Cape Cod regarding primarily family law matters, including divorce, child support, and custody issues. Funds will also be used to provide attorney-led Divorce Boot Camps, Family Law Overview workshops, workshops on Legal Issues Facing Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, and workshops on Child Support.

  • The Women's Center, New Bedford, $30,000 to assist individuals seeking protection from abusive relationships by advising them of their options in regard to filing restraining orders and/or criminal charges, offering victims the information and resources needed to make informed choices, and by assisting them to access pro-bono legal services. The program serves the 12 towns and two cities that comprise the greater New Bedford/Fall River area.

  • YMCA of Central Massachusetts, Worcester, $25,000 to provide certified advocates onsite in the district and probate courts to provide advocacy and support services to victims of domestic violence seeking intervention and protection through the courts. The program serves Worcester Probate and Family Court, as well as the District Courts in Ayer, Clinton, Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster, Winchendon, and Worcester.