Lawyers Journal

MBF awards $4.5 million in IOLTA grants for 2010-11

The trustees of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation recently awarded $4.5 million in IOLTA grant funding to nonprofits across the state that provide civil legal assistance to the most vulnerable citizens. More than 150 MBF Fellows volunteered their time to review grant applications and make funding recommendations to the trustees.

Grants will support civil legal service programs, including domestic violence programs, special education advocacy, consumer debt counseling and homelessness prevention projects. Grants will also support the administration of justice through such efforts as court-linked mediation and lawyer-of-the-day programs.

These grants are particularly critical today as the recession continues to impact grantee organizations that are facing cuts to both public and private funding sources, while at the same time dealing with an increased demand for legal assistance.
MBF trustees voted for a second year in a row to utilize the foundation's reserve funds to supplement declining IOLTA income, in an effort to mitigate the impact to grantees. Thus, the total award amount for this year is just 10 percent lower than last year, despite the precipitous decline in IOLTA revenue.

MBF President Joseph P. J. Vrabel acknowledged the dire impact the recession has had on individuals and families across the state who will increasingly rely on the legal aid programs provided by MBF grantees. "We knew it was absolutely essential that we do whatever we could to help keep these vital services available to those in need."

This year's MBF IOLTA grant awards will support 140 programs conducted by 97 nonprofit organizations throughout Massachusetts. Award amounts range from $4,480 to $98,000, with an average award of $32,000, and will run for one year, from Sept. 1, 2010, to Aug. 31, 2011.

Funds for these grants are provided by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's Interest on Lawyer's Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program. The Massachusetts Bar Foundation is one of three charitable entities in Massachusetts that distributes IOLTA funds.

Visit www.massbarfoundation.org to view a complete listing of the 2010-11 IOLTA grant recipients.

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