AUSTIN – The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) has announced grants, totaling more than $426,000, to 11 nonprofit organizations that will help fund legal aid services for Texas veterans.
With these grants, public interest and pro bono lawyers will be able to provide legal representation to veterans with civil legal problems such as denial of benefits or disability, family law matters arising from deployment, and other issues that may arise due to a veteran’s absence from home during military service. Last year, TAJF grantees helped more than 8,800 veterans obtain access to the justice system.
“With Texas having the second-highest population of veterans, it is essential that we provide legal services for those who have sacrificed so much for our country,” Richard L. Tate, chair of the board of directors of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, said. “Whether it’s through legal clinics, a staff attorney or help from a pro bono lawyer, these organizations will provide the representation they need and deserve.”
The Jefferson County Bar Foundation is among the programs to receive a grant. It was awarded $22,000. The JCBF has hosted several veterans' programs this year, with events in February, May and August held in Beaumont, Orange and Lumberton.
The Texas Access to Justice Commission—through its Champions of Justice Gala—raised more than $350,000 in 2013 from law firms and corporate sponsors. Now in its fifth year, the Champions of Justice Gala has raised more than $1.75 million for veterans’ legal services since its inception. Along with funds from the Gala, additional support from the TAJF supports the grants to the selected nonprofit organizations.
The organizations receiving grant awards are:
Baylor University School of Law, Waco: $22,000
Cathedral Justice Project, Houston: $22,000
Community Justice Program, San Antonio: $22,00
Fort Bend Lawyers Care, Richmond: $22,000
Houston Bar Foundation, Houston (includes surrounding area): $60,000
Jefferson County Bar Foundation, Beaumont: $22,000
Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, Fort Worth (also includes Dallas, North Texas, Panhandle and West Texas): $50,000
Lone Star Legal Aid, Houston (includes Gulf Coast and East Texas): $64,000
Oficina Legal del Pueblo Unido Inc. (Texas Civil Rights Project), Statewide: $50,000
Tarrant County Bar Foundation, Fort Worth: $22,000
Texas Legal Services Center, Austin (statewide): $70,713
TAJF has awarded more than $410 million in its 30 years of existence. The organization collects and administers several funds, including Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA), Basic Civil Legal Services (filing fees, fees assessed to out-of-state attorneys practicing in Texas, and other public funding), crime victims’ funds and private donations.
Today, there are more than 5.8 million Texans who qualify for civil legal aid. Due to a lack of resources, only about 20 percent of the civil legal needs of low-income and poor Texans are being met. To be eligible for civil legal aid, an individual must earn no more than $14,588 a year. For a family of four, the annual household income cannot exceed $29,813.
The Texas Access to Justice Foundation, created by the Supreme Court of Texas in 1984, is the largest state-based funding source for the provision of civil legal aid in Texas. The organization is committed to the vision that all Texans will have equal access to justice, regardless of their income. The Foundation administers a variety of funding sources, which are earmarked to assist nonprofit organizations in providing legal aid to approximately 100,000 Texas families each year. For more information, please visit: www.teajf.org.