Current Grant Recipients
In 2021, Vermont Bar Foundation approved 16 grants to local and statewide projects that provide civil legal services to disadvantaged Vermonters or education to the general public about the courts and legal matters.
The Hon. John A. Dooley Competitive Grants
Addison County Bar Association — Carry-OverAddison County Prenatal Legal Support Project
This pilot program will provide legal advice to pregnant women and their partners who are facing child welfare investigations and potential interventions from the Vermont Department for Children and Families on account of their pregnancies. Providing legal advice to families in this limited, critical 30-day time frame can help parents form a safety plan, access services and treatment to help keep children in the home. The project plans to partner with more agencies to expand knowledge of the program. Funding will support program expenses.
The AALV is based in Burlington. They provide pro-bono immigration legal services, including representation for asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking, and domestic violence in their applications for immigration relief. Funding will support pro bono immigration legal services.
NewStory Center — $5,000Legal Assistance Project
NewStory Center is a non-profit human service agency dedicated to assisting survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Their focus includes outreach, education, advocacy, and crisis services to the communities of Rutland County with the goal of protecting those who are victims of abuse, while working to prevent and decrease instances of further abuse. Funding will support representation by local attorneys, on a reduced-fee basis, as needed for issues such as divorce and child custody.
The Orleans County Restorative Justice Center provides conflict resolution services, community engagement and conversation projects, and extensive services to re-entering offenders. They currently hold a monthly pro bono clinic for residents of Orleans County. They will also build in a specialty clinic for employment-related and expungement issues. Funding will assist with support staff for the clinics.
Pride Center of Vermont — $4,000Legal Advocacy Program
The Pride Center of Vermont’s programs and services strive to meet the distinct socio-economic, health, and safety needs of the LGBTQ community. The legal advocacy program works to create equity among Transgender community members in housing, employment, and health care by building a guide and creating systems that improve access to name and gender marker changes to legal documents by Transgender Vermonters. Funding will support attorney’s work with the Program.
Steps to End Domestic Violence — $8,697Legal Clinic
The mission of Steps is to assist in the transition to a safe, independent life for all those who have been affected physically, sexually, emotionally, or economically by partner violence, and to promote a culture that fosters justice and safety. Steps has expanded their clinic to accommodate the increasing volume of survivors. Grant funding will continue to support the expanded weekly clinic and abbreviated twice-monthly legal clinic, and will add a weekly educational clinic available to low-income survivors of dating and domestic violence residing in Chittenden County.
The Community Restorative Justice Center, Inc. provides opportunities for people to change the way they treat each other in order to maintain communities as safe and enjoyable places to live, work and play. The Legal Program includes a monthly Legal Clinic that provides one-time legal advice and assistance at no cost to residents of Caledonia and Essex counties. Grant funding will help support the Legal Program Coordinator.
Vermont Bar Association — Carry-OverLow Bono County Projects
The Vermont Bar Association’s Low Bono projects provide low-income Vermonters with legal representation in the areas of landlord/tenant, collections defense, and child-support contempt defense. The VBA Low Bono Project covers all 14 counties. Carry –over funds will cover legal representation on a reduced-fee basis.
Vermont Care Network — $4,250Vermont Care Partners
Vermont Care Partners (VCP) is a statewide network of 16 non-profit community-based agencies that provide mental health, substance use, and intellectual and developmental services and supports. Adults with Serious Mental Illness [SMI] served in Community Rehabilitation and Treatment [CRT] Programs at 10 of VCP’s agencies often struggle to maintain stable housing as a result of their mental illness. Funding will support a partnership with VLA to provide monthly consultations to CRT clients and case managers concerning their housing stability.
Vermont Law School — $12,500Veterans Legal Assistance Project
The Veterans Legal Assistance Project was established in 2014 to provide pro bono legal assistance to Vermont’s military veteran population. The project represents veterans with state civil law issues in Windsor and Orange counties, as well as on a statewide basis in matters concerning veterans’ law-specific issues, such as appeals from the denial of VA benefits and discharge upgrades. VLAP also assists veterans with debtor issues such as bankruptcy relief, foreclosure defense, and consumer protection. Through ongoing outreach to community partners, VLAP continues to develop awareness of veterans’ needs and advocate for adequate services. Funding will support the project director’s position.
Women’s Freedom Center — $5,000Legal Representation
The Women’s Freedom Center works toward ending men’s physical, sexual and emotional violence against women and their children. They are committed to offering support and advocacy to all survivors of violence, as well as prevention and educational activities to help create a community where violence is not tolerated. Funding will assist low income victims in Windham County and Southern Windsor County with access to legal representation on a reduced-fee basis.
WomenSafe — $6,000Legal Assistance Program
WomenSafe was founded in 1980 in Addison County and for the last forty-one years they have worked toward the elimination of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and stalking. Funding will cover legal representation, on a reduced-fee basis, for income-eligible survivors going through parentage, parental rights and responsibilities, divorce and/or post-judgement hearings in Addison County and Rochester.
Have Justice–Will Travel, Inc. — $20,000Legal Empowerment Assistance Program
Legal Empowerment Assistance Program (LEAP) is an integral part of the HJWT model and the organization's effort to end the generational cycle of abuse in rural families and assure that disadvantaged Vermonters have access to the legal system. LEAP allows HJWT to offer long term, on-going direct legal services to pro se litigants, women and men, in Vermont Family and Probate Court who are looking for legal assistance, specific legal advice and legal education throughout their case. Funding will support the LEAP Coordinator.
Vermont Bar Association — $22,000Legal Access Coordinator
The Legal Access Coordinator position was created to respond to the need for having a centralized system to encourage, coordinate, and track the delivery of pro bono services in Vermont. The Coordinator identifies and unifies pro bono efforts throughout the State, publicizes and promotes the work of pro bono attorneys, recruits and provides training for pro bono attorneys in areas of need, and coordinates with existing access to justice programs and projects. Funding will help support the Coordinator's salary and benefits.
The Legal Clinic provides a broad range of effective, free legal services to vulnerable, disadvantaged Vermont residents. Its primary goals are to provide high-quality legal services to low-income people and to help law students develop essential lawyering skills. Funding will help support the Children First! and the Vermont Immigrant Assistance Projects.
Vermont Legal Aid, Inc. — $705,000General Support
Vermont lawyers and judges founded Vermont Legal Aid in 1967. They are dedicated to ensuring that poor and disadvantaged Vermonters have access to legal services in every community in the state. They provide information, advice and representation in a wide range of civil legal areas including health care, housing, education, family law, public benefits, and consumer law. VLA’s Projects supported by this grant – Poverty Law Project, Senior Citizens Law Project, Disability Law Project and Victims of Crime Project.