Effective as of the 2011-12 grant year, The Florida Bar Foundation has suspended its Voluntary Bar Association Community Service Grant Program temporarily due to severely reduced revenue from Florida's Interest on Trust Accounts (IOTA) Program. The Foundation intends to restore its funding of Law Student Assistance grants when IOTA revenue rises to pre-recession levels.
AOJ funds have traditionally supported a program of one-time grants of up to $5,000 to voluntary bar associations in Florida to promote new or significant improvement in existing charitable, community-service projects to improve the operation of the civil or criminal justice systems; or for education, outreach or service-delivery projects which enhance the administration of justice in Florida. The goals of the VBA grant program are:
A. To increase community service by Florida’s legal profession through voluntary bar association initiatives.
B. To serve as a readily accessible source of funding for a full range of voluntary bar association charitable, community-service projects.
Past VBA grants awarded by the Foundation include:
Expansion statewide of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers pilot "Breakfast and Books" one-on-one mentoring program for at-risk young women. Foundation funds were used for materials to train FAWL members as mentors, and to purchase books for the students.
- Florida Association for Women Lawyers, Palm Beach County
Monthly legal clinics for residents of Rebecca Towers, a low-income housing project where volunteers provide legal education and pro bono legal services in English, Spanish, and Russian on topics such as advance health directives, living wills, powers of attorney, Medicaid, Medicare and Supplemental Security Income.
- Miami Beach Bar Association
One- day Kinship Legal Assistance Summit in partnership with the University of South Florida's Kinship Center. The Summit was designed to serve 250 "relative" caregivers with information about custodial options, sources of financial assistance for relative caregivers, support services available and assistance in determining eligibility for financial assistance and services.
- Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers
VBA grants are awarded each year in June. VBA grant applications are sent directly to voluntary bar associations in February and are due back at the Foundation by the end of April. Grant applications are screened by Foundation staff with funding recommendations made to the full AOJ grant committee by a special committee comprising a member of the Foundation's AOJ grant committee.