Bay Area Legal Services Awarded $286,426 Pro Bono Innovation Fund Grant

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Bay Area Legal Services in Florida will receive a $286,426 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant. LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income clients.

“Pro bono assistance enables Bay Area Legal Services to leverage its limited government-funded staff resources with privately contributed services,” said LSC President Ronald S. Flagg. “This grant will promote this leverage and help Bay Area Legal Services to assist many more people in need.”

Bay Area Legal Services will use the grant to support its Tampa Bay Disaster Relief Pro Bono Initiative. The project will increase access to pro bono disaster relief legal aid for 200 low-income disaster survivors residing in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco Counties. It will work to engage 65 pro bono volunteers in disaster relief legal assistance by employing disaster-related legal training and improved technologies. The project’s goal is to deliver high-quality client legal services in the event of a disaster.

“Considering the disaster-prone region in which we serve clients, we’ve long been concerned with the unique challenges associated with disaster relief related legal issues and the pronounced impact on vulnerable populations,” said Bay Area Legal Services President/CEO Richard C. Woltmann. “With this new funding, we are now equipped to effectively serve clientele suffering from a wide range of these issues. We are truly excited about the opportunity of expanding our ability to better assist disaster victims and anticipate a significant positive impact on the community as a whole.”

Members of the Florida congressional delegation congratulated Bay Area Legal Services on the grant.

“It’s great news that Bay Area Legal Services was awarded this Pro Bono Innovation Grant, which will help increase access to pro bono legal aid for low-income disaster survivors,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio said. “Underserved and low-income communities have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and I will continue to do everything I can to ensure an equitable recovery for these communities.”

“Bay Area Legal Services does a tremendous job providing legal representation and advice to economically disadvantaged constituents. I was pleased to support inclusion of this grant program in a recent appropriations package, as there has been an increased demand for this type of resource in light of the pandemic-related economic conditions.  I am thrilled to see expanded availability of these critical services within our community,” said Congressman Gus Bilirakis (FL-12). 

 “Communities across the Sunshine State know how difficult it is to bounce back from natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding, but relief is even more difficult to come by for our low-income neighbors,” said Congressman Charlie Crist (FL-13). “This grant will secure access to legal aid for hundreds who call Pinellas home and is essential in helping survivors get back on their feet. From securing temporary housing, to filing insurance claims, to navigating complicated legal situations, and more, this funding will go a long way in helping those in need in the Tampa Bay Area.”

Bay Area Legal Services is one of 19 legal aid organizations this year receiving Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants totaling $4,347,185. Eleven legal aid organizations are receiving new grants to significantly expand their pro bono efforts and eight current Pro Bono Innovation Fund grantees are receiving supplemental funding to continue their efforts to transform pro bono delivery in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

LSC awarded this grant from its $4.5 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund included in its FY 2020 congressional appropriation. The creation of the fund was recommended by LSC’s Pro Bono Task Force in 2012. This is the seventh year LSC has received a designated appropriation to award pro bono grants. In all, LSC has awarded 102 grants totaling more than $27.8 million.