July 5, 2012 – The Wisconsin Law Foundation (WLF) recently awarded $24,080 in grants to law-related programs in Wisconsin. Grants include educating the public on health care reform, providing estate planning services to Native Americans, smoothing the way through bankruptcy issues for pro se litigants, helping Spanish-speaking residents understand family court issues, expanding teen court programs, and supporting the State Bar-sponsored Mock Trial Program and the translation of a popular publication What You Should Know About Wisconsin Law into Spanish.
“The Wisconsin Law Foundation is honored to award grants to these truly deserving organizations,” says Grants Committee Chair Mark A. Pennow. “We wholeheartedly support these programs as they strive to fulfill the mission of this Foundation – to promote the public understanding of the law and to improve the administration of justice. The Foundation commends and thanks for their great work.”
Law student interns working with ABC for Health during the early stages of the HealthCheck CheckMarks project (standing) Scott, Sydney, Alyssa, and Jess. Seated: Ali (left) and Elizabeth.
Julie Short manages the Easter Seals Wisconsin Aging & Disability Services Program.
Centro Legal staff attorneys (standing, from left): Centro Legal Executive Director Heather Ramirez, coordinators Samantha Levihn and Jessica Marquez Murphy. (Seated) Teachers Jason Mishelow and Michelle Velasquez.
Mediation Center of Greater Green Bay Inc. volunteers. Standing from left: John DeWane, volunteer mediator; Eric Pelnar, board member; Lori Cotter, volunteer mediator; Laura Smythe, executive director; Adolfo Garcia, volunteer mediator; and Rex Cordt, volunteer mediator.
The Xavier team prepares to present its case before the Wisconsin Supreme Court during the Wisconsin High School Mock Trial state finals competition last March.
ABC for Health
ABC for Health received $1,955 to develop a series of education workshops called “HealthCheck CheckMarks.” The Wisconsin HealthCheck program is derived from a federal law that mandates Medicaid coverage for any service a child needs that is determined to be medically necessary, even if the state health plan does not cover that service. Unfortunately this federal statute is not well-known to Wisconsin families, attorneys, or medical service providers. ABC for Health hopes to change this be offering a series of educational workshops on the legal and administrative hurdles to health care coverage for children seeking medically necessary services. The workshops will be offered in Milwaukee, Marathon, and Winnebago counties.
ABC for Health, Inc. is a Wisconsin-based, nonprofit public interest law firm with offices in Madison, Balsam Lake, and Milwaukee. ABC is dedicated to using legal education tools to ensure health care access for children and families, particularly those with special needs or who are at risk.
Easter Seals Wisconsin Disability and Aging Services Program
Easter Seals Wisconsin (ESW) received $1,500 for its Disability and Aging Services Program. Through partnership with Wisconsin Judicare and the U.W. Law School, ESW expands its pro bono estate planning services to Native Americans. U.W. Law School students receive training and conduct client interviews drafting core estate planning documents including wills, advance directives, and powers of attorney.
The ESW Aging and Disability Services program was created to meet the needs of individuals over age 60 and individuals with disabilities residing in low-income households. Wisconsin Judicare, based in Wausau, is a nonprofit law firm that provides services to low-income individuals in Wisconsin’s northern counties and to Native Americans statewide.
Eastern District of Wisconsin Bankruptcy Help Desk
Eastern District of Wisconsin Bankruptcy Help Desk received $2,000 to continue its Pro Se Help Desk program. Since its inception several years ago, this project has had the enthusiastic support of the four members of the Eastern District bankruptcy bench. The need for this service has increased dramatically after the passage of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, which increased the procedural difficulty for unrepresented people who want to file bankruptcy.
The number of consumer bankruptcy filings continues to climb. In 2011, the help desk served approximately 1,000 visitors who needed legal assistance and were unable to afford legal representation.
Centro Legal received $2,000 to support Family Law Outreach Classes, which educate individuals about the family court system. The classes educate participants about the processes and procedures of family court, offer a basic understanding of family law issues and terminology, explain the types of remedies available and not available through litigation, break down pervasive myths and misconceptions about family court, and educate participants about courthouse resources.
In 2011, Centro Legal opened 519 new client cases, an increase of 46 cases from 2010, and continued representation in 291 cases carried over from prior years. Centro Legal also served nearly 1,000 individuals through free consultations and family law information classes.
Centro Legal, located on the south side of Milwaukee, serves a diverse group of clients in family law and criminal misdemeanor defense cases. Centro Legal also provides services for victims of domestic abuse and serves as guardians ad litem for minors in family and paternity court.
Crawford and Grant Counties Teen Court Programs
Crawford and Grant counties each received grants to further enhance, expand, and sustain their teen court programs. Crawford County Teen Court and the Grant County Teen Court Task Force each received $1,750.
Teen court programs typically hear the cases of juveniles between the ages of 12 and 17 who have committed their first nonviolent offenses or who are minor repeat offenders. The goals are restitution to the community and victims and giving youth an opportunity to become accountable for their behavior and develop as responsible citizens.
Mediation Center of Greater Green Bay Inc.
Mediation Center of Greater Green Bay Inc. received $1,125 to expand its services to include Brown County Circuit Court non-threatening temporary restraining orders.
Established in 1998, this center mediates approximately 700 disputes annually, with an 85 percent resolution rate through the involvement of 25 professionally trained volunteers. Since 2002, the center has contracted with Brown County to mediate small claims cases. Approximately 95 percent of the center’s cases are referred from the Brown County Circuit Court.
State Bar Law-related Education Programs
State Bar Law-related Education programs received $12,000 to support the High School Mock Trial Tournament and the translation of the 44-page booklet, What You Should Know About Wisconsin Law, into Spanish.
- The High School Mock Trial Tournament familiarizes students with the American legal system with students participating in a trial simulation as lawyers and witnesses.
- What You Should Know About Wisconsin Law is an expansion of the popular publication On Being 18. A large segment of Spanish-speaking Wisconsin residents currently find access to the legal system very difficult because they do not understand English well enough.
The State Bar of Wisconsin’s Law-related Education programs promote awareness of the law and citizenship through interactive educational experiences.
About Foundation Grants
Grant requests must involve charitable or educational programs that promote public understanding of the law, improvement of the administration of justice, or another law-related public service project. The WLF reviews grant applications each spring. Requests for grants up to $2,000 for fiscal year 2013-14 must submitted by April 5, 2013. Download grant application guidelines, or more information contact org bdrake wisbar Beth Drake at (800) 444-9404, ext. 6171.
About the Foundation
The WLF is a charitable and educational organization that serves to promote public understanding of the law and improve the administration of justice and other law-related public service through funding of innovative and creative programs that improve the vision of the American justice system. Foundation membership is open to all Wisconsin-licensed lawyers. General membership begins with a $50 donation.