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
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.
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
to view a complete listing of the 2010-11 IOLTA grant