Here is the Pro Bono Innovation Fund 2014 Notice of Funds Availability. The applications, which must be filed by an LSC grantee, are due June 30, 2014. It is important to emphasize that LSC welcomes grants that include extensive participation, including potentially expenditures, by non-LSC grantee entities.
The program is modelled extensively upon the TIG program, and would surely have not been funding by Congress without the recognized success of TIG. The goals are described as follows:
Address gaps in the delivery of legal services to low-income people.
Engage more lawyers and other volunteers in pro bono service.
Develop and implement new, innovative, and replicable strategies that address persistent challenges in pro bono delivery systems.
The grant criteria are very broad within the pro bono context:
In the pilot year of the Pro Bono Innovation Fund, LSC will welcome applications in a wide variety of areas without targeting its FY 2014 grant making to specific areas of interest. Consistent with the key goals of the Pro Bono Innovation Fund, however, applicants are encouraged to consider developing project models that offer novel and replicable solutions to persistent challenges in their current pro bono delivery systems. Such challenges and solutions may include, but are not limited to:
- Addressing duplicative or fractured pro bono efforts by forming partnerships with pro bono and community stakeholders or adding new partners to existing collaborations (e.g., working with state and local pro bono committees, specialty and minority bar associations, aligning with state Access to Justice Commission initiatives, and complementing self-represented litigant efforts).
- Using technology to streamline the process of matching, supporting, and training pro bono volunteers.
- Developing strategies to bring pro bono services to the locations and communities where clients reside or are accessing services (e.g., medical-legal partnerships, mobile or remote services for rural populations, or adopting a neighborhood), particularly for hard to reach populations.
- Developing quality controls and setting goals for timely, effective pro bono work. This can include technology solutions and/or innovative ways to provide more mentoring, training, and support for volunteers (e.g., designating experienced volunteers to mentor newer pro bono attorneys, developing process improvements to share resources through common data portals, and sharing case updates and files with shared case management systems).
Here are some ideas:
- Replicating successful pro bono innovations such as self-help center based pro bono clinics, attorney of the day programs, and programs that focus pro bono resources on cases that are almost ready for resolution.
- Development of replication kits and technical support for such proven innovations. It might be that LSC would be particularly interested in grants that would provide results quickly, helping to make the case for additional ongoing innovation funding.
- Systems to promote corporate or other partner pro bono such as that highlighted recently at the White House.
- Better data collection on the extent and impact of pro bono.
- Systems to compare the effectiveness of different systems of pro bono administration, and identification of related best practices.
- Programs to gather data on, and analyze the impact of, changes in bar rules that encourage pro bono.
- Tools to measure attorney satisfaction with pro bono, and identify ways to improve matching clients with attorneys.
- Experiments in use of attorneys and others in online chat and phone systems that provide information and advice.
This is a huge opportunity to demonstrate to funders that community-based legal aid is an innovative and effective delivery system. It could also be the trigger for additional competitive innovation incentives in the future. Examples might be in triage, collaboration with courts generally, collaboration with the private sector, mixed model innovation, etc.
Important Additional Note:
I have confirmed from LSC that the “Pro Bono Innovation Fund project activities are not limited to those activities that meet the current substantive requirements of the PAI rule, 45 C.F.R § 1614. For example, a project that sought to engage law student volunteers would be fine. “
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