This has been a whirlwind autumn and it’s hard to believe it’s already 2015! I hope everyone had a safe and happy new year.
The SC Access to Justice Commission has undergone a recent overhaul. On October 20, 2014, the Chief Justice issued a new Administrative Order for the Commission. The changes ensure that Commissioners represent a broader scope of judges and attorneys, while imposing term limits so that we don’t overstay our welcome with our Commissioners, who already volunteer their time and talent.
In keeping with a new order, we have new Commissioners. Click here for a list.
Stay tuned for updates on our initiatives.
Many thanks to all of you who support access to justice!
Nominations will remain open until November 12, 2014.
The award winner will be decided by a joint awards committee of the South Carolina Bar Foundation and the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission. The award will be jointly presented at the South Carolina Bar Foundation Gala, to be held on Saturday, January 24, 2015.
Bright and early Saturday morning, 77 people were driving into downtown Columbia to attend the SC Access to Justice Commission’s LEP Work Group “Law School for Interpreters.”
Meanwhile, the sponsors were all busy opening the facility and readying the room and registration tables for each of these interpreters.
At 8:45 a.m., seats filled and the LEP Work Group provided an overview of the day and the program began.
Registration and Breakfast 8:00 a.m.
Welcome & Overview 8:45 a.m.
Pretest 9:00 a.m.
“Oh the Places You Can Go and the People You Can Meet” (Overview of the SC Judicial System) 9:15 a.m.
South Carolina State Court Interpreter Certification Program 9:45 a.m.
Circuit Court 10:30 a.m.
Family Court 11:15 a.m.
Magistrates Court 12:00 noon
Court Process 1:45 p.m.
Panel Discussion & Q&A: Reality Check 3:15 p.m.
Post-test, Wrap-Up, & Evaluation 4:45 p.m.
The excitement in the room was palpable. Interpreters greeted one another with hugs, and sometimes questions of “which language do you speak?” And the excitement was not limited to interpreters and translators. Many of the event sponsors were thrilled with the turn-out, especially on a Saturday. Languages represented included Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Chinese, French, and Urdu as well as a few others.
And we’re all excited about the prospect of an additional pool of qualified and certified interpreters and translators in the South Carolina Court System.
Thanks again to our sponsors, speakers, and participants!
Historically, legal service organizations have not been a large beneficiary of grants from community foundations. At the last South Carolina Access to Justice Commission meeting, Tom Keith from Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina (Sisters of Charity) and Mac Bennett from United Way of the Midlands (UWay) provided insight into this practice as well as information to change it.
One obstacle for many legal service providers is geography. Sisters of Charity is the only statewide community foundation in South Carolina. Most community foundations in South Carolina limit the grant award to specific geographic regions. This presents a problem for entities that provide statewide legal services.
Another reason for the lack of funding from community foundations is the failure to ask. According to Tom Keith, in the last 10 years, Sisters of Charity has received only 10 requests from legal service organizations.
Despite the prohibitions for statewide legal service providers, the need for legal services is currently on the rise.
Mac Bennett reported that United Way of the Midlands recently interviewed approximately 1500 people in a local Bi-Lo parking lot to learn how the economy was affecting them and what they were struggling with the most. The 3rd highest indicator of need with people earning less than $25,000 a year was the need for legal services. This survey reflects a need for legal service organizations to more effectively communicate to community foundations when seeking grants.
Here are the FIVE TIPS from Tom and Mac:
Educate the foundation throughout the year. Do not wait until it is time to ask for funding to notify the foundation about who you are. Send the foundation newsletters, brochures, links to websites—anything that will introduce your organization to the foundation before the funding request is due. Foster a relationship with the foundation PRIOR to your request.
State measurable outcomes in your request. Community foundations want to know that their money will make a tangible difference in the life of your organization and those you serve. The more numbers you can track and report, the better.
Clearly state the need. Be specific about the need(s) the grant will address. Clearly state who you are going to serve and the impact their dollars will make.
Make requests geared towards a specific program or project. Community foundations are often hesitant to fund salaries and/or operational costs because they do not want an organization to become dependent on their funding from year to year just to keep their doors open. They prefer to fund projects and programs that will have a specific impact on the community.
Make sure your mission matches the mission of the foundation. Community foundations are mission driven. Be clear about how the mission of your organization is in line with the mission of the foundation. Pay attention to the funding priorities of the organization so you don’t waste your time or theirs.