Philip Fornaci of Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs to Receive 2018 Scoutt Prize

Washington, DC – The District of Columbia Bar Foundation (DCBF) has selected Philip Fornaci as the recipient of the 2018 Jerrold Scoutt Prize. Mr. Fornaci is the Project Director of the DC Prisoners’ Project with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

The Scoutt Prize is awarded annually to an attorney who has worked for a significant portion of his or her career at a nonprofit organization providing direct, hands-on legal services to poor or disadvantaged persons in the District of Columbia, has demonstrated compassionate concern for his or her clients, and has exhibited a high degree of skill on their behalf.

As the Project Director for the DC Prisoners’ Project, Mr. Fornaci works to protect the rights of the more than 1,200 prisoners that the Project serves each year. In his nomination, Jonathan M. Smith, Executive Director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, said: “Philip has dedicated his career working for equal justice, against discrimination, and to ensure that every human being is treated with respect and dignity.” Mr. Smith also referred to Mr. Fornaci as “an exceptional, highly skilled, and compassionate attorney.”

Mr. Fornaci has played an instrumental role in DC’s legal aid community for over 25 years, beginning his career working on behalf of HIV/AIDS patients at Whitman-Walker Health Legal Clinic for seven years. In 2003, he served as Executive Director of the DC Prisoners’ Legal Services Project for three years and continued as director of the project for seven years, once it merged with Washington Lawyers’ Committee. In 2016, he served as Executive Director of the DC Employment Justice Center and re-joined Washington Lawyers’ Committee in 2017 as Project Director for the DC Prisoners’ Project. Mr. Fornaci is a graduate of Columbia University and The George Washington University Law School.

The Scoutt Prize, endowed by the Washington, DC firm of Zuckert, Scoutt, & Rasenberger LLP, is named in honor of Jerrold Scoutt, Jr., a founding partner of the firm, in recognition of Mr. Scoutt’s and the firm’s long-term support of legal services. The DC Bar Foundation’s Scoutt Prize Committee is chaired by DCBF Advisory Committee member Seth A. Rosenthal of Venable LLP. The DC Bar Foundation will present the 2018 Jerrold Scoutt Prize during the DC Bar’s Judicial Reception on Thursday, April 19, 2018.

 About the DC Bar Foundation: For DC residents in poverty, we make strategic investments to strengthen and expand our civil legal aid network, addressing critical needs and improving our community. As the largest funder of civil legal aid in the District, we are a steadfast community partner, committed to protecting access to justice in life’s most pivotal moments.

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ADDITIONAL $7 MILLION AVAILABLE FOR HOUSING-RELATED MATTERS

Washington, DC – Today, the DC Bar Foundation is pleased to announce that it will award an additional $7 million in 2018 to legal aid organizations in DC focused on preserving affordable housing, defending low-income tenants in eviction cases, and assisting low-income DC residents in other housing-related legal issues. This is in addition to the $6.7 million that the Foundation already awarded for 2018, which was announced in a press release dated December 8, 2017.

This additional funding will greatly assist the legal efforts led by DC’s legal aid community to combat the disappearance of nearly half of DC’s affordable housing over the past ten years. Two appropriations from the Council of the District of Columbia make up this $7 million: the Expanding Access to Justice Act of 2017, which created the Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program, and the Access to Justice Grants Program, established by the Access to Justice Act of 2007. The two grant programs are managed by the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants, with the DC Bar Foundation as the designated administrator for both programs.

Under the Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program, the Foundation will award approximately $5 million strictly for eviction defense in Landlord-Tenant Court, where about 30,000 cases are filed annually. In this court, it is estimated that 90 percent of landlords are represented, but 90 percent of tenants are unrepresented. With the funding, the legal aid community hopes to reduce wrongful eviction and keep low-income tenants in their homes, preserving the small number of affordable units remaining in the District.

The remaining $2 million is available through the Access to Justice Grants Program. These funds will be awarded to legal aid organizations working on more broad housing issues, such as matters involving housing conditions, unlawful rent increases, the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), and the redevelopment of public housing, to name a few.

With the combination of these grant programs, the Foundation hopes to their leverage funds to create a coordinated effort among legal aid organizations to tackle one of the most pressing issues facing the District and its ability to be a thriving, diverse, and inclusive community.

The application to apply for funds will be released in late winter 2018 and will be due early spring 2018. The grant year will begin July 1, 2018. For more information and updates, please visit the DC Bar Foundation’s website at www.dcbarfoundation.org.

About the DC Bar Foundation: For DC residents in poverty, we make strategic investments to strengthen and expand our civil legal aid network, addressing critical needs and improving our community. As the largest funder of civil legal aid in the District, we are a steadfast community partner, committed to protecting access to justice in life’s most pivotal moments.

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MORE THAN $6.7 MILLION AWARDED FOR FREE LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN DC

Washington, DC – The DC Bar Foundation awarded more than $6.7 million to 27 DC legal aid organizations providing free legal assistance to low-income DC residents in a wide array of civil legal issues in 2018.

“The funding we provide to these legal aid organizations is vital to ensuring justice for all DC residents, regardless of income,” stated Paul Smith, Board President of the DC Bar Foundation. “A startling 90% of legal needs in DC go unmet, and a lawyer can mean the difference between keeping families together and breaking families apart or having a roof over your head and being homeless.”

A majority of these funds provide legal assistance to DC residents living in the poorest and most underserved areas of the city, specifically Wards 5, 7, and 8. The funds maintain community-based offices, which make legal services more accessible to those living in those wards, as well as projects that are heavily supported by pro bono attorneys, multiplying funds through volunteers.

The Foundation’s grants provide critical support to projects and organizations working in a spectrum of civil legal issues, including immigration, domestic violence, and public benefits and consumer, housing, employment, family, and health and disability law. The Foundation is proud to support innovative projects such as medical-legal partnerships, a shared legal interpreter bank, and projects serving vulnerable populations, such as youth involved in the justice system and people with disabilities.

The $6.7 million is comprised of three funding streams: (1) $3.6 million from the Access to Justice (ATJ) Grants Program, established by the Council of the District of Columbia through the Access to Justice Act of 2007; (2) $2.5 million from the Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program, a new program for eviction defense projects created under the leadership of Councilmembers Kenyan McDuffie and Charles Allen by the Expanding Access to Justice Act of 2017; and (3) $600,000 from the Private Grants Program, which has provided over $26 million in general operating support to DC legal aid organizations since 1978.

The ATJ Grants Program and the Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program are funded by a grant from the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants. The Private Grants Program is funded by private fundraising and revenue from the DC Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account Program, which is administered by the Foundation. All attorneys barred in the District must place eligible client funds—those that are nominal in amount or will be held for only a short period of time—in a DC IOLTA account offered by an approved financial institution. The interest generated on these accounts is pooled to help fund civil legal aid in DC.

To view a full list of grantees, please visit www.dcbarfoundation.org.

About the DC Bar Foundation: For DC residents in poverty, we make strategic investments to strengthen and expand our civil legal aid network, addressing critical needs and improving our community. As the largest funder of civil legal aid in the District, we are a steadfast community partner, committed to protecting access to justice in life’s most pivotal moments.

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DC Bar Foundation Seeks Nominations for 2018 Scoutt Prize

WASHINGTON, DC – The DC Bar Foundation is seeking nominations for the 2018 Jerrold Scoutt Prize, which is awarded annually to an exceptional legal services attorney in the District of Columbia. Nominations will be accepted until November 17, 2017.

The Scoutt Prize recognizes outstanding lawyers who work full time, or have spent much of their careers working full time, at DC nonprofits that provide direct, hands-on legal services to the poor or disadvantaged in our community. We encourage you to nominate attorneys who have not only demonstrated a high degree of skill in representing their clients, but who have also demonstrated a high degree of compassion.

Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger LLP established the Scoutt Prize in 1993 in honor of founding partner Jerrold Scoutt Jr. The firm continues to provide an award of $2,500 annually, and since its creation, 28 outstanding public interest attorneys have been recognized. In 2017, Rochanda Hiligh-Thomas, Executive Director at Advocates for Justice and Education, was honored for her career-long dedication and commitment to advocacy.

The 2017 Scoutt Prize will be presented during the DC Bar Judicial Reception in Spring 2018.

Nominations made for the 2016 and 2017 prize will be reconsidered without a formal resubmission. However, those who submitted nominations in those years are encouraged to update their nomination materials.

How to submit your nomination:

Nominations must include the nominee’s curriculum vitae. Supporting materials, like articles of interest or letters of support, are highly encouraged. Please send nominations and supporting materials by 5:00 p.m. on November 17, 2017 to: info@dcbarfoundation.org.

 

About the DC Bar Foundation: For DC residents in poverty, we make strategic investments to strengthen and expand our civil legal aid network, addressing critical needs and improving our community. As the largest funder of civil legal aid in the District, we are a steadfast community partner, committed to protecting access to justice in life’s most pivotal moments.

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Request for Proposals: More than $5 Million Available for Civil Legal Aid in the District of Columbia

The DC Bar Foundation (DCBF) is currently accepting applications from nonprofit organizations, located in the District, requesting funding for civil legal aid projects and general support. There is more than $4.5 million available for project-based funding through the Access to Justice (ATJ) Grants Program, and $600,000 available for general support funding through the Private Grants Program.

Funded by a grant from the District of Columbia Office of Victim Services Justice Grants, the ATJ Grants Program funds projects in three categories: (a) underserved areas; (b) housing-related matters; and (c) a shared legal interpreter bank. The Private Grants Program is funded by the support of firms and individuals, as well as the interest accrued on eligible client funds held in trust by attorneys in DC as part of the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts program.

The instructions, guidelines, and applications for the 2018 grant programs are available online, under the respective subpage here: https://dcbarfoundation.org/grants/. DCBF will hold an information session for all interested applicants from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm on Thursday, August 24, 2017. Please email grants@dcbarfoundation.org to RSVP for the information session.

Applications are due online by 3:00 pm on Thursday, September 28, 2017. Incomplete and late applications will not be accepted. Decisions will be announced mid-December 2017, and the grant year will begin January 1, 2018 and end December 31, 2018.

Contact Director of Programs Imoni Washington at washington@dcbarfoundation.org or 202-853-9023 for more information.

Over $900,000 Awarded to Prevent Foreclosures and Redevelop DC Communities

Washington, DC – The DC Bar Foundation announced the recipients of the third distribution of the Foreclosure Prevention and Community Redevelopment Legal Assistance Grants Program. A total of $939,000 was awarded to projects that will increase access to justice by:

  • Representing low-income and elderly residents in foreclosure cases at DC Superior Court;
  • Ensuring that affordable housing properties in DC transition to market rate in a way that avoids displacement of low-income DC tenants;
  • Combatting the causes of affordable housing loss due to significant rent increases, sale of properties, termination of government subsidies, and unsafe conditions; and,
  • Assisting tenant groups with the establishment and maintenance of their affordable housing limited equity cooperatives to prevent them from converting to market rate housing.

The Foundation has awarded over $2.2 million in the area of foreclosure prevention and community redevelopment in the past two years. Grantees are currently working with more than 16 affordable housing properties under redevelopment, primarily in Wards 1, 5, 7, and 8. Approximately 7,500 low-income DC residents have received free legal assistance and more than 80 foreclosures have been prevented so far. With the influx of an additional $939,000 over the next three years, the Foundation will help thousands more low-income DC residents and prevent hundreds more foreclosures.

These grants were funded by a 2014 settlement on mortgage-related litigation between the U.S. Department of Justice and Bank of America Corporation. The settlement provided that every Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program receive funds for legal aid organizations in its jurisdiction for foreclosure prevention legal assistance and community redevelopment legal assistance. IOLTA exists in every state, as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands. The DC Bar Foundation is the administrator of the DC IOLTA program.

The complete list of grantees and projects is below and available on the DC Bar Foundation’s website (https://dcbarfoundation.org/grants/our-grantees/).

The DC Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1977, is the largest funder of civil legal services in the District. The Foundation’s mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of the poor, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged in the District of Columbia, and it is committed to the vision that residents of the District have equal access to justice, regardless of income. The Foundation provides grants, training, and technical assistance to local non-profit legal services organizations and awards loans to DC poverty lawyers to help with their educational debts.

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THE RECIPIENTS OF THE THIRD ROUND OF FORECLOSURE
PREVENTION AND COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT GRANTS

 

FORECLOSURE PREVENTION LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROJECTS

LAS Foreclosure Prevention Project ($200,000)

Legal Aid Society of DC provides same-day representation to low-income DC residents in foreclosure cases at DC Superior Court. Their attorneys are present in court every week for the call of the judicial foreclosure calendar to provide information and legal assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure.

LCE Foreclosure Prevention Project ($224,000)

Legal Counsel for the Elderly’s (LCE) Foreclosure Prevention Project attorneys staff the judicial foreclosure calendar at DC Superior Court every week. LCE attorneys provide information, legal assistance and full representation to low-income DC homeowners facing foreclosure, with a particular focus on elderly homeowners.

 

COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROJECTS

Affordable Housing Initiative ($150,000)

Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless represents tenant associations through the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act and zoning processes in order to preserve affordable housing and ensure that the zoning process leads to maximum number of truly affordable units for low-income residents. The attorneys also represent individual tenants in housing conditions-related cases.

Community Preservation Project ($215,000)

Through their Community Preservation Project, Bread for the City and Legal Aid Society of DC combat the causes of affordable housing loss due to significant rent increases, termination of government subsidies, sale of properties, conversion to condominiums, and unsafe conditions. The two organizations are able to work in tandem with one property: while one organization represents the property’s tenant association, the other organization represents individual tenants in other landlord-tenant issues such as housing conditions and wrongful evictions.

Housing Cooperative Preservation Initiative ($150,000)

Through its Housing Cooperative Preservation Initiative Project, Neighborhood Legal Services Program preserves tenant-owned limited equity cooperatives (LECs). The project’s attorneys assist tenant groups develop and maintain their LEC’s administrative infrastructure and governance, advise on regulatory compliance, and provide on-going education and legal advice to LEC board of directors. The project’s goal is to prevent problems that may cause these affordable housing cooperatives to convert to market rate housing.

YOUNG LAWYERS NETWORK LEADERSHIP COUNCIL CALLS FOR APPLICATIONS

Washington, DC – The Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council (YLN LC) offers younger attorneys an opportunity to further the goal of access to justice in our community by working with the DC Bar Foundation—the leading private funder of civil legal aid for the District’s poor and underserved. Members of the YLN LC serve as ambassadors who promote the Foundation’s mission and programs by engaging in regular meetings, grantee site visits, and quarterly networking dinners. The group is also actively involved in the organization’s fundraising efforts, through hosting an annual event that provides critical support to low-income DC residents in need of legal representation.

The DC Bar Foundation will add several new Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council members for a two-year term expiring September 30, 2019. Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. on August 8, 2017.

To qualify for consideration, individuals must be members of the District of Columbia Bar in good standing, under the age of 40 at the start of their term, either live or work in the District of Columbia, and commit to carrying out the responsibilities of the YLN LC. Staff of LRAP-eligible employers, or of organizations eligible to receive funding from the DC Bar Foundation, are ineligible for membership.

Interested applicants should submit a completed application form, résumé, letter of interest, and up to two letters of support that speak to their commitment to advance the District’s civil legal services network. Please send all materials to David Stone, Development Officer, at stone@dcbarfoundation.org. It is also important to include “Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council, [Your Full Name]” in the subject line of the email. Additional information about the YLN LC is available on the Foundation’s website at www.dcbarfoundation.org.

Click here to download application materials.

The DC Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1977, is the largest funder of civil legal aid in the District of Columbia. Its mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of the poor, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged in DC, and is committed to the vision that residents have equal access to justice, regardless of income. The Foundation provides grants and training and technical assistance to local nonprofit legal services organizations and awards loans to public interest attorneys to help with their educational debt.

More than $4.5 Million Awarded to Increase Access to Justice in the District of Columbia

Washington, DC – The DC Bar Foundation announced the 2017 recipients of the Access to Justice (ATJ) Grants Program, which awards grants to DC-based legal aid organizations that provide free legal help to low-income DC residents. A total of $4,552,000 was awarded to 33 projects throughout the District.

“The DC Bar Foundation is proud to be a community partner in the pursuit of access to justice for the citizens of the District of Columbia. Whether an individual needs help recovering wages or assistance with a wrongful eviction, our grants help to ensure that the income one earns does not dictate the outcome of a civil legal issue,” stated Vonya McCann, Senior Vice President Government Affairs at Sprint Corporation. Ms. McCann is a member of the DC Bar Foundation’s Board of Directors and Chair of the Grants and Technical Assistance Committee.

Funded by a grant from the District of Columbia Office of Victim Services Justice Grants, the ATJ Grants Program funds projects in three categories: (a) underserved areas; (b) housing-related matters; and (c) a shared legal interpreter bank. DCBF awarded 28 grants in the underserved areas category, totaling $3,083,000; four grants in the housing-related matters category, totaling $1,149,500; and one $319,500 grant to a shared legal interpreter bank.

Now in its tenth year, the ATJ Grants Program has been instrumental in increasing access to justice for low-income DC residents, in every ward of the District, by providing free legal assistance on array of civil legal issues. One of the ATJ Grants Program’s main goals is to place attorneys in the poorest and most underserved areas of the District in order to ensure that every resident, regardless of income, has access to legal assistance. Of the nearly 23,000 DC residents served through the grants program last year, 52 percent were residents of Wards 7 and 8, the two poorest wards of the city.

Through the ATJ Grants Program, the DC Bar Foundation also seeks to increase the availability of critical legal assistance for legal matters that create significant challenges in the lives of low-income DC residents. For example, one new project will assist low-income residents of Wards 1 and 7 who are suffering from debt collection practices that may have disastrous consequences on their employment, housing and financial stability. Another new project will add more lawyers in the effort to preserve affordable housing in diverse communities in DC.

The complete list of 2017 ATJ Grants Program grantees and projects is attached and available on the DC Bar Foundation’s website (https://dcbarfoundation.org/grants/our-grantees/).

The DC Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1977, is the largest funder of civil legal services in the District. The Foundation’s mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of the poor, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged in the District of Columbia, and it is committed to the vision that residents of the District have equal access to justice, regardless of income. The Foundation provides grants, training, and technical assistance to local non-profit legal services organizations and awards loans to DC poverty lawyers to help with their educational debts.

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Rochanda Hiligh-Thomas of Advocates for Justice and Education to Receive Annual Scoutt Prize

Washington, DC – The District of Columbia Bar Foundation (DCBF) has selected Rochanda Hiligh-Thomas as the recipient of the 2017 Jerrold Scoutt Prize. Ms. Hiligh-Thomas is the Interim Executive Director at Advocates for Justice and Education (AJE).

The Scoutt Prize is awarded annually to an attorney who has worked for a significant portion of his or her career at a nonprofit organization providing direct, hands-on legal services to poor or disadvantaged persons in the District of Columbia, has demonstrated compassionate concern for his or her clients, and has exhibited a high degree of skill on their behalf.

During her tenure as Legal Services Director at AJE, Ms. Hiligh-Thomas worked to bring justice and education to low-income clients. In his nomination, Timothy Riveria, a former staff attorney with AJE, said of Rochanda: “Since the start of her career, Rochanda’s service to DC has led to the preservation of educational opportunities for thousands of children.” Mr. Riveria also referred to Ms. Hiligh-Thomas as “a pillar of the public interest community and a pioneer in education law in DC.”

Ms. Hiligh-Thomas has worked in DC’s legal aid community for over 20 years. Prior to her 12 years with AJE, Ms. Hiligh-Thomas worked with Neighborhood Legal Services Program for eight years, serving as Assistant Director of Legal Operations from 2002 to 2004. She is a graduate of Tuskegee University and the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law.

The Scoutt Prize, endowed by the Washington, DC firm of Zuckert, Scoutt, & Rasenberger LLP, is named in honor of Jerrold Scoutt, Jr., a founding partner of the firm, in recognition of Mr. Scoutt’s and the firm’s long-term support of legal services. The DC Bar Foundation’s Scoutt Prize Committee is chaired by DCBF Advisory Committee member Seth A. Rosenthal of Venable LLP. The DC Bar Foundation will present the 2017 Jerrold Scoutt Prize during the DC Bar’s Judicial Reception on Friday, April 7, 2017.

The DC Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization established in 1977, is the largest funder of civil legal services in the District. The Foundation’s mission is to fund, support, and improve legal representation of the poor, vulnerable, and otherwise disadvantaged in the District of Columbia, and it is committed to the vision that residents of the District have equal access to justice, regardless of income. The Foundation provides grants, training, and technical assistance to local non-profit legal services organizations and awards loans to DC poverty lawyers to help with their educational debts.

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