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from Crain’s Cleveland Business: Ohio State Bar Foundation grant supports United Way of Greater Cleveland’s right-to-counsel educational campaign

Posted May 21, 2020
3:17 pm

Written by Jeremy Nobile in Crain's Cleveland Business on 05/21/2020

A $50,000 donation by the Ohio State Bar Foundation to the United Way of Greater Cleveland will support the group's campaign for spreading awareness about a right to counsel in the city for low-income tenants with children who face eviction — something made possible by the efforts of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland's Housing Justice Alliance (HJA), which spurred the passage of right-to-counsel legislation last year.

You can read more about the history of right to counsel in the United States and how efforts coalesced locally to establish that right legislatively in this Crain's feature from last July.

Cleveland legal aid established the HJA to promote legal representation for tenants facing eviction with initial funding and support from the Sisters of Charity Foundation, eventually forming an advisory committee for the initiative featuring Cleveland City Council president Kevin Kelley and Ward 12 councilman Anthony Brancatelli. Those efforts culminated in the passage of legislation signed by Mayor Frank Jackson on Oct. 1. That legislation, which takes effect June 30, mandates that legal counsel be provided to tenants at and below 100% of the federal poverty guidelines who have at least one child in the household.

The United Way of Greater Cleveland will work with city council to lead the program. The United Way contracts with Cleveland legal aid to provide the legal services. The OSBF donation will be applied to the United Way's Right to Counsel–Cleveland Community Education and Awareness Campaign. The United Way announced in April it was committing at least $3 million over three years for its right-to-counsel program.

It's a progressive move: Cleveland is just the fourth city in the country to establish a right to counsel.

The United Way grant is part of $320,000 in grants awarded to Ohio nonprofits by the OSBF in its spring grant cycle.

"The Ohio State Bar Foundation is dedicated to helping Ohio nonprofits through its important grantmaking initiative," said OSBF president Mark Kitrick in a statement. "While we grant more than $800,000 every year, this spring our work is all the more important as everyone navigates through the COVID-19 pandemic. With this grant money, these organizations will be able to continue their crucial work, which aligns with our foundation's mission to educate people about our justice system so that they better understand their legal rights."

Here are the other organizations receiving OSBF grants this spring cycle:

  • • $118,000 to the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE) in Columbus to further develop and expand its student programs, teacher professional development opportunities and outreach efforts. Students can access high-quality civics content and have an opportunity to practice responsible citizenship through the study of the U.S. Constitution, judicial system and the community impact of social issues. Educators learn valuable teaching strategies, create lesson plans and student activities, and share substantive knowledge through OCLRE professional development opportunities.
  • • $59,000 to the Legal Aid Society of Columbus for its Statewide Kinship Care Provider Education and Outreach program. The program assists kinship care families, caregivers for children whose parents are unable or unavailable to care for them. This initiative helps those caregivers have better access and increased understanding of the legal system through collaborations with Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center in Columbus and with the Cincinnati Bar Foundation and Ohio Federation of Health Equity and Social Justice statewide.
  • • $34,000 to Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, located in Dayton and Toledo, for Medicaid Developmental Disability Waivers and You. The program will provide legal information to individuals with developmental disabilities, their families and disability rights advocates on the three types of waivers available, their rights and eligibility, and the application and appeals process.
  • • $20,000 to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) Ohio, which is in Columbus, for Answering the Calls of Veterans in Crisis. With this grant, NAMI Ohio will hold a one-day conference for judges, law enforcement officers, mental health professionals and veteran outreach coordinators to encourage collaborative efforts for de-escalating veterans facing unique problems, such as traumatic brain injury, PTSD, substance abuse, depression and other mental, physical and emotional challenges.
  • • $10,000 to Ohio Voice to expand the Ohio Fair Courts Speakers Bureau, which conducts "Courts 101" presentations that engage and train new speakers and organizations in Dayton, Cincinnati, Akron and Cleveland.
  • • $10,000 to the Legal Aid Society of Columbus for Boss Up, which supports the development of legal education materials for aspiring entrepreneurs in historically underserved communities in Franklin County. The grant will help provide needed information on startup services for small businesses.
  • • $10,000 to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Ohio, located in Dublin and Cincinnati, for Know Your Rights Legal Fellow. The grant will support the development of "Know Your Rights" legal materials that will help educate the Ohio Muslim community on legal issues specific to them and other general legal topics.
  • • $9,000 to Ohio State Legal Services Association in Columbus for the Ohio Poverty Law Center's Advocacy Skills Training. Legal aid attorneys will have the opportunity to participate in a two-day advocacy training where they'll engage in group presentations, discussions and small group exercises to help them better understand the legislative process and increase their level of engagement in statewide policy.

Click here to read the full article in Crain's Cleveland Business. 

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