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NY Bar Foundation to award grants to legal services groups, including VLP

July 9, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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The New York Bar Foundation announced on Tuesday that following a successful emergency fundraising drive to help the legal issues New Yorkers are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will award grants to local legal services groups and public interest organizations.

The Bar Foundation, which is the charitable and philanthropic arm of the NYS Bar Association, will give out 29 grants in total, including one to the Brooklyn Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project and the Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation.

“Even in the best of times, the New York Bar Foundation learns of numerous and different unmet legal needs across New York State,” said Lucia Whisenand, chair of the Foundation’s Grants Review Committee. “Now, with the confluence of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic disruption, those unmet needs are even more acute. The goal of this special campaign is to help providers increase their ability to represent those in urgent need of legal services.”

The Foundation called it the most successful fundraising effort in its approximately 70-year history, enabling the Foundation to give out financial assistance to groups in nearly every judicial district in the state.

Anne O’Grady, pro bono director of the Volunteer Lawyers Project.

The grants are given out to groups who will provide relief via sustenance income, health care, cash assistance and food stamps, emergency legal assistance for victims of domestic violence, commercial lease and rent modification assistance to small businesses, health-related assistance and advanced planning directives for people 60 and older, HIV-positive and LGBTQ immigrants seeking release from detention, renters with pandemic-related housing issues, and consumers facing debt collection issues.

“I’m impressed by the determination and resourcefulness of these organizations — many in fragile financial condition themselves and coping with the impacts of the pandemic,” Foundation President Lesley Rosenthal said.

Part of the money will also go to the NYS Bar Association’s Unemployment Insurance Pro Bono Assistance Network.

“The generosity of our state bar members and all of our donors has made it possible to provide critical support to these organizations,” said June Castellano, vice chair of the Grants Review Committee. “Lawyers throughout the state selflessly responded to the Foundation’s call to fund the legal emergencies created by COVID-19.”

The NY Bar Foundation is still accepting donations for the COVID-19 Emergency Legal Relief Fund via its website.

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