This, from SJI, speaks for itself — and speaks well.
Self-Represented Litigation in the State Courts
SJI is accepting concept papers to address self-represented litigation in the state courts – one of SJI’s new Priority Investment Areas. SJI is seeking to fund project(s) that are innovative and national or statewide in scope, and will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the state courts in addressing this critical issue. Some examples include (but are not limited to) unique approaches to maximizing court self-help centers and court-based volunteer attorney programs, and application of technology solutions to improve access for self-represented litigants and the state courts.
Concept papers will be reviewed and the SJI Board will decide which potential project(s) merit further exploration and possible funding. Concept papers must adhere to the guidelines below and address issues of content specified in this request. In addition, SJI may have additional requirements should the project(s) be funded. SJI’s Grant Guideline will govern any award(s). The project(s) will be funded as a Strategic Initiatives Grant (SIG).
Concept papers are due to SJI via mail by February 15, 2012. Submit one original and two hard copies. The Board will make final decisions on award(s) by the end of April 2012.
If you have questions regarding this solicitation, please email email@example.com or call 571-313-8843.
Here is what the website says about the Strategic Initiatives grants.
The Strategic Initiatives Grants (SIG) program provides SJI the flexibility to address national court issues as they occur, and develop solutions to those problems. SJI uses its expertise and the expertise and knowledge of its grantees to address key issues facing state courts across the United States.
The funding is used for grants or contractual services, and any remaining balance not used for Strategic Initiatives Grants will become available for SJI’s other grant programs. The program is handled at the discretion of the SJI Board of Directors and Staff outside the normal grant application process (i.e. SJI will initiate the project), and there is no cash match requirement. (emphasis added.)
SJI requested $1.5 million for this overall Strategic Initiative Grants program in their 2012 FY budget request (at page 14.) This would have been an increase of $250,000 from the prior year. The final SJI budget approved by Congress and the President for FY 2012 was the same as for the prior year. It might be inferred that the Strategic Initiative budget will be $1.25 million for FY 2o12 — although, of course, self-represented issues is not the only such Initiative at SJI.
Obviously the request is a great idea, and a great sign. That the concept papers are to be two pages long makes the process much simpler and more efficient. I’ll be following up with more thoughts later, but I’d encourage folks to start brainstorming. The more transformative ideas we get in, the better the case for expanding funding in this area, not just from SJI, but from other potential funders. Let’s blow them away!
Any court interested in using online forms that are SRL friendly to serve their service areas, please let me know. I can also share some ideas on how in some states online forms are being combined with web chat options to improve access. http://www.probono.net/library/item.318146-Online_Document_Assembly