Supported primarily by IOTA funds, the Foundation's Legal Assistance for the Poor general support grants are awarded to a network of about 31 local, not-for-profit legal aid programs. Together, this network provides at least basic access to the justice system for individuals and families residing in every county in Florida. Grants support a broad range of legal assistance for low-income Floridians, including family law, housing, individual rights, consumer, and income maintenance. Funding levels for general support grants are based on the number of poor persons in the county who meet financial eligibility guidelines. LAP grants also support legal assistance for specific client services and to serve specific client groups.
The Foundation has adopted general funding and grantmaking policies that guide and direct the grant decisions and grantmaking process. The Foundation has also adopted specific eligibility criteria for its LAP grants. Generally these require, among other things, that applicants be tax-exempt organizations, that eligible clients have incomes below 125% of the federal poverty level and that applicants be staffed by a full-time attorney or have access to the equivalent of a full-time attorney. Grant applications are reviewed by Foundation staff. Staff recommendations are submitted to the Foundation's Legal Assistance for the Poor Grant Committee for review and consideration. The committee makes grant recommendations to the Foundation's board of directors for final decision.
The Foundation has developed an intensive program assessment process of grantees in order to assess the quality of services provided to clients, make key decisions about future funding, achieve closer links between local bars and the IOTA program, assist legal services providers to improve delivery, and ensure that IOTA funds provide efficient and effective services to those in need. Periodic statistical and other narrative reports, financial audits, on-site visits and on-going information sharing and contacts are included within these activities.
For more information, contact Melissa Pershing, director of the Legal Assistance for the Poor/Law Student Assistance grant programs or write The Florida Bar Foundation, 875 Concourse Parkway South, Suite 195, Maitland, FL 32751, or call (407) 960-7000 or 1 (800) 541-2195.