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September 20, 2011

Giving to the Vermont Bar Foundation Now Possible Through VtSHARES

“If you are a government lawyer,” explains Vermont Bar Foundation Executive Director Deborah Bailey, “please donate to the VBF through payroll deductions and VtSHARES.”  Ms. Bailey just completed the process to add the VBF to the list of organizations that benefit from the philanthropic generosity of Vermont’s dedicated state employees.  Please contact email her with any questions.

In 1977, VtSHARES was established as the State Employees’ Combined Charitable Appeal (SECCA).  Since then, $7,733,667 has been raised for local, national and international organizations to help those in need.  VtSHARE’s 2011 campaign goal this year is simply to exceed last year’s $283,067.60 donation total.  For more information about VtSHARES, visit their website at


“The Vermont Bar Foundation, which celebrates its 30th year in 2012, supports access to justice in Vermont by obtaining and distributing funds to programs that provide legal services to disadvantaged Vermonters or that educate the general public about the courts and legal matters.  One of the principle funding mechanisms of the Foundation is its Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Program.  This has been a highly successful partnership between Vermont lawyers and the banking and credit union community, generating funds from the interest earned on lawyers’ trust accounts.  However, given the current economic climate, although interest rates on IOLTA accounts at IOLTA HONOR ROLL financial institutions remain above-market, revenue from IOLTA accounts has dropped dramatically, reducing the funding for the Foundation’s grants program,” explains VBF board member and chair of its fund-raising committee, Sophie Zdatny.

As funding has decreased, the demand for the grant programs has grown as more and more Vermonters have been affected by the economic downturn, the foreclosure crisis, and, more recently, Tropical Storm Irene.  In 2011, the Vermont Bar Foundation awarded grants to 16 local and statewide projects that provide civil legal services to disadvantaged Vermonters or that educate the general public about the courts and legal matters.  These include supporting programs for battered women, Burlington College’s Pro Se Legal Clinic, Disability Rights Vermont, Have Justice-Will Travel, Inc., pilot projects by the Orange, Rutland, Windham, and Windsor County bars, and Vermont Immigration and Asylum Advocates, as well as Vermont Legal Aid, Legal Service Law Line and Vermont Law School’s South Royalton Legal Clinic.

 “Attorneys in private practice are able to contribute to the Vermont Bar Foundation’s mission of promoting equal access to justice for all Vermonters through their IOLTA accounts, and all attorneys are able to donate time, either pro bono and low bono.  Government attorneys may make individual private donations, which are greatly appreciated, but they can now also designate the Vermont Bar Foundation to receive donations through the VtSHARES program.  Selecting the Foundation to receive a donation will assist the Vermont Bar Foundation to continue to fund much-needed programs to Vermonters across the State who currently have no access or only limited access to the judicial system,” explains Ms. Zdatny.

“As always, donations to the VBF can be made online at  Just press the “Donate” button to make your gift,” explains Sophie Zdatny, chair of the VBF fund-raising committee.  “And please visit our website to learn more about the work of VBF grantees.”

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