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Improvements in the
Administration of Justice

AOJ Grant Programs

General Grant Program

Because of the significant drop in revenue available for its grant programs, the Foundation is not accepting applications for new Improvements in the Administration of Justice grants at this time and probably through 2015.

For more information contact Melissa Pershing, Director of Grant Programs.

AOJ grants are concentrated in four areas within the broader framework of improving the administration of justice in Florida, with emphasis on the process of operating the courts in an effective and expeditious manner.

The charitable projects supported by AOJ grants include a county bar association effort to build a special witness room for child victims and witnesses in the local courthouse. Also, a statewide disability rights group received AOJ funding to train law enforcement to identify and deal effectively with the mentally disabled. 

AOJ grants typically are awarded for demonstration projects with replication potential, as start-up funds or seed money over a one- or two-year period, or for studies, commissions and other types of research.  Applicants are encouraged to seek matching funds. 

Current AOJ Grantees

A. Improvement in the operation and management of the court system

Pay or Appear program to increase child support collections in non-Department of Revenue cases. In this program, delinquent parents were given the choice of settling their child-support tab, or were scheduled to appear before a family judge to explain their delinquency.  Foundation funding of the pilot project made it possible to demonstrate the program's effectiveness and led to ongoing funding of the program by the Lee County Commission.  The program's success has been shared with Court Clerks in other counties. - Lee County, Florida Clerk of Courts

A two-part informational video -- Lady Justice Needs You for Jury Service -- to address the general public's apathetic attitude toward the judicial system and the local Miami-Dade community's lack of interest in performing jury service.  Copies of the two-part video and users’ guide were distributed to the remaining Judicial Circuits with project funds. - Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida/Administrative Office of the Courts.

B. Improvement and reform of the criminal, civil, and juvenile justice systems

Team Child in Broward County provided  a two-year pilot project for youth involved with the juvenile justice system. The project linked the services provided by legal aid organizations, public defender offices, and volunteer private attorneys.  The project serves young people with multiple needs for legal advocacy in civil matters such as difficulties with the school system, denial of support services, lack of mental health services and family legal problems. Re-arrest rates amoung youth who participated in this pilot project in Broward County and a similar project in Leon County were lower by 31 percent and 45 percent respectively - Florida Legal Services, Legal Services of North Florida, and Legal Aid Service of Broward County.

C. Public education and understanding about the law, including law-related education

The Florida Law Related Education Association.  FLREA provides teacher training, curriculum for law-related education classes in public and private elementary and secondary schools, and organizes classroom presentations by judges and private attorneys. The Association also  operates academic competitions based on the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights; and organizes high school mock trials, and the United States Senate Youth Law Week Essay and Poster contests.

The Florida Bar's annual Reporting on the Courts and the Law: A Workshop for Practicing Journalists.  This two-day session covers topics including using The Florida Bar and the Florida Supreme Court as primary sources for answers to legal questions, reporting under Florida's Sunshine laws, special challenges in covering the courts, general information on state and federal courts and legal resources on the internet.  Presenters include judges, bar and court staff, and working journalists.

D. Promotion and support for public interest legal representation

The goal of the three-year Education for Children in Jail project was to improve compliance with a state law requiring that educational services are provided to juveniles housed in adult correctional facilities.  The project's initial assessment of 37 counties determined that 14 of Florida's 67 counties provided no educational services at all, and 23 were meeting only some of their legal responsibilities.  Working cooperatively with the project, the Florida Commission of Education secured passage of legislation clarifying the responsibilities of local law enforcement and school boards to provide educational services to minors who have not graduated from high school, and disabled students under age 22 detained in county or municipal jails.  At the conclusion of the project, all 37 counties in the assessment had improved the educational services for youth detained in jails or municipal detention facilities. - Florida Justice Institute

APPLICATION INFORMATION

Applicants eligible for AOJ general program grants must be not-for-profit tax-exempt organizations under Section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code, or otherwise demonstrate the charitable purposes of the project for which funding is requested.  AOJ grants are not awarded to individuals.  Because of limited funding, the Foundation generally does not award AOJ grants for direct service programs (e.g. drug treatment or counseling), established programs or replicas of established programs, local community groups, programs for which there is a governmental responsibility to provide funding, or provide continuing program support.

AOJ grant applications are considered in March, June, August/September and December. 

Initial funding inquiries should be directed via e-mail to Melissa Pershing, Director of Grant Programs, or by calling her at 1 (800) 541-2195 (FL) or
(407) 960-7000.


Giving Opportunities

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IOTA Program Information

The Interest on Trust Accounts (IOTA) program was implemented by the Florida Supreme Court in 1981. The nation’s first IOTA program, it serves as a model for similar programs across the country and creates millions of dollars in funding for Legal Aid each year. Learn more.