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from Crain’s: Legal Aid creates fund at Cleveland Foundation using MacKenzie Scott gift

Posted July 8, 2024
5:00 pm

by Paige Bennett

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland has created an organizational fund at the Cleveland Foundation seeded with philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s $2.5 million gift to the organization late last year.

The organization says the Extend Justice Fund will help Legal Aid grow and advance its mission of helping people with low incomes obtain justice and equity through legal representation and advocacy for systemic change.

In a joint news release issued Monday, July 8, with the Cleveland Foundation, Legal Aid said its board of directors saw the creation of the fund as the best use of the one-time gift and worked carefully to identify an application that would leave the largest long-term footprint. The move will enable Legal Aid “to amplify the impact of this original investment and draw on this generosity well into the future.”

In December 2023, Scott made a $2.5 million donation to the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland through her charitable organization, Yield Giving. It was the largest one-time gift in Legal Aid’s history.

This new fund will support work that aligns with Legal Aid’s current strategic plan, which includes goals of making systems better for clients, building staff skills and capacity, and leveraging community resources to increase impact, the news release says.

Legal Aid served more than 24,000 individuals last year through cases handled and thousands more through legal education and advocacy, the organization says.

The Cleveland Foundation and Legal Aid have had a “longstanding" partnership, which has been critical to Legal Aid’s expansion of the Cleveland’s Right to Counsel program.

The fund extends the partnership between Legal Aid and the Cleveland Foundation, the news release states, and will allow Legal Aid to “achieve new heights” in its work to address the greatest needs in Northeast Ohio.

"As a long-time partner with the Cleveland Foundation, it is special for Legal Aid to deepen our collaboration with the Extend Justice Fund,” said Melanie Shakarian, director of development and communications at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. “Together, we can leverage our legacies to enhance the lives of more residents – now and for generations to come.”

Legal Aid aims to improve accountability and accessibility of the justice system, promote economic security and education, increase the availability of affordable housing and improve health and safety.

Scott previously gave $20 million to the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and $6.8 million to Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio.

Source: Crain's Cleveland Business - Legal Aid creates fund at Cleveland Foundation with MacKenzie Scott gift

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