Lawyers Journal

MBF awards emergency funding to bring AmeriCorps members to Mass. Legal Services

The MBF was delighted to learn that the Corporation for National and Community Service selected the Southeastern Mass. Legal Assistance Corporation (SMLAC) to receive funding to bring 25 AmeriCorps volunteers (members) to 15 legal aid agencies across the state annually for the next three years. Through the AmeriCorps State Competitive Grants, SMLAC will receive $310,000 per year to administer this initiative.

The application process to bring this national-level funding to Massachusetts was long and involved. SMLAC worked with numerous state legal assistance providers, many of whom are also MBF grantees, to prepare the successful proposal. Given the funding shortages and budgetary limitations many public assistance agencies face daily, the AmeriCorps program offers an opportunity to bring highly skilled volunteers Ñ typically recent college graduates with an interest in public law Ñ to assist at a relatively low cost to each agency.

In September 2005, just as the grant was about to begin, SMLAC contacted the MBF for assistance. In order to place all 25 members and take full advantage of the CNCS grant, additional monies were needed to meet the host agency matching funds requirement.

Given that this program represents an outstanding statewide effort of legal aid providers and will undoubtedly expand the capacity of all 15 participating agencies, as well as the Foundation's belief in fostering careers in public interest law, the MBF trustees voted enthusiastically to provide a grant of $47,500 to SMLAC, enabling them to utilize the entire allocation of funding and volunteers.

"The MBF went above and beyond in making this program possible, and we are very appreciative," said SMLAC Executive Director Michael Alexander.

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