The Massachusetts Bar Foundation (MBF) recently awarded $2,984,450 in grants through its annual Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Grants Program. This amount is the highest payout ever for the MBF in an individual grant cycle and will fund 126 grants to 89 nonprofit organizations throughout Massachusetts.
The grants provide critical financial support to law-related projects that either provide civil legal services to the state's low-income population or improve the administration of justice in the commonwealth. Grants to improve the administration of justice include such efforts as premier court-linked alternative dispute resolution projects and Lawyer-of-the-Day programs. Award amounts ranged from $3,037 to $175,000, and will run from Sept. 1, 2003, to Aug. 31, 2004.
The competition for this year's IOLTA funds was very strong. The MBF received more than 160 applications requesting more than $4.9 million. The magnitude of these requests indicates the extent of unmet legal needs of low-income citizens of the commonwealth.
"The ability of the foundation to review more than 160 applications and make awards to 126 programs would not be possible without the help of over 130 of our Fellows, the Trustees and, of course, our dedicated staff," said MBF President Steve Wollman. "The awards this year will help to ensure a more level playing field for those in need when they seek help to access the civil justice system."
Last year, more than 65,000 residents of the commonwealth benefited from programs supported by the MBF.
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's IOLTA Program provides funds for these grants. The MBF is one of three charitable entities in Massachusetts that distributes IOLTA funds.
Additional information about the Massachusetts Bar Foundation and its IOLTA Grants Program, as well a complete listing of the 2003/2004 IOLTA grant recipients, is available online at www.MassBarFoundation.org.