Inside Track: Wisconsin Law Foundation grants $18K-plus to educational law-related consumer programs, application deadline for 2012 grants is April 6:

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    Wisconsin Law Foundation grants $18K-plus to educational law-related consumer programs, application deadline for 2012 grants is April 6

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    Apply for a 2012 grant; Application deadline is April 6

    Grants 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. Grant awards, up to $2,000 will be granted in late spring.

    For more information

    Jan. 18, 2012 – The Wisconsin Law Foundation (WLF) awarded $18,621 in grants to law-related programs in Wisconsin in 2011. Grants include educating the public on health care reform, smoothing the way through bankruptcy issues for pro se litigants, helping Spanish-speaking residents understand family court issues, starting up two new teen court programs, and supporting the State Bar-sponsored Mock Trial Program and Our Courts, a new State Bar-sponsored program in the development stages.

    “The Wisconsin Law Foundation is proud to bestow grants to these programs, which truly epitomize the basis upon which the foundation is built – to promote the public’s understanding of the law and to improve the administration of justice,” says Grants Committee Chair Mark A. Pennow. “We commend these organizations for their efforts.”

    2011 grants

    Grants for 2011 were awarded to the following programs.

    ABC For Health received $1,973 to develop and publish a consumer publication that will help consumers understand the programs, policies, and rules being implemented in Wisconsin because of the Affordable Care Act. ABC plans to integrate elements of The Consumer’s Companion: A Legal Guide to Health Care Reform in Wisconsin, which will be updated annually, into newsletter articles for publication in The BadgerCare Bulletin. ABC also will post video clips to its website that reinforce some of the commonly asked questions on health reform in Wisconsin, especially elements of public benefits applications and troubleshooting, private insurance rights, responsibilities, appeals, and transparency.

    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.

    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 unanimous and 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 2010, the help desk served approximately 1,000 visitors who needed legal assistance and were unable to afford legal representation.

    CentroLegal received $2,000 to support Family Law Outreach Classes, which educate individuals about the family court system to help them make informed decisions about their legal situations and needs. 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 the resources available at the courthouse. In 2010, Centro Legal opened 473 new client cases and served nearly 1,000 individuals through free consultations and family law information classes. These offerings have become an essential part of Centro Legal’s programming as it strives to reach more individuals who would otherwise face the legal system uninformed.

    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. The staff provides representation in English and Spanish.

    Crawford and Grant counties each received grants to establish teen court programs using the peer jury model. Crawford County Teen Court received $1,695, and the Grant County Teen Court Task Force received $1,953.

    Teen court programs typically hear the cases of juveniles between the ages of 12 and 17 who have committed their first non-violent 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.

    State Bar Law-related Education programs received $9,000 to support the High School Mock Trial Tournament and Our Courts, a new program currently being developed by the Public Education Committee.

    • The High School Mock Trial Tournament familiarizes students with the American legal system with students participating in a trial simulation as lawyers and witnesses.

    • Our Courts will provide nonpartisan information programs to adult audiences statewide to further public knowledge and understanding of the state and federal courts. Modeled after Colorado’s Our Courts program, presentations will address the role of fair and impartial courts in applying and preserving the rule of law. All programs are free of charge.

    About the Foundation

    The Wisconsin Law Foundation is the charitable arm of the State Bar of Wisconsin and is dedicated to enhancing the law through education and service. Foundation membership is open to all Wisconsin-licensed lawyers. General membership begins with a $50 donation. Gifts for less than $50 qualify you as Friend of the Wisconsin Law Foundation.