Legal Aid of Southeastern PA and Neighborhood Legal Services Association in Pittsburgh Receive Grants to Improve Pro Bono Assistance for Low-Income Pennsylvanians

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that Legal Aid of Southeastern PA (LASP) will receive a $399,999 Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant and Neighborhood Legal Services Association (NLS) in Pittsburgh will receive a $302,799 grant. LSC’s Pro Bono Innovation Fund is intended to encourage and expand pro bono efforts and partnerships to serve more low-income individuals with civil legal issues. 

LASP will use the grant to develop a regional approach to pro bono work to better meet the legal needs of low-income people. The organization will analyze its current pro bono program and identify successful pro bono projects to replicate. The project’s goal is to improve the entire pro bono program by providing more effective volunteer training and resources. 

LASP will also work to strengthen collaborations with law schools, law firms and corporate legal departments to engage more volunteers in pro bono work on evictions, abuse protection and expungement.

NLS will use its grant to expand the organization’s capacity to engage pro bono volunteers in the complex eviction prevention system in Pittsburgh. Working with the community-wide Evictions and Affordable Housing Work Group, NLS will build relationships with pro bono stakeholders and housing advocates for the eviction prevention pro bono program. The organization will also develop the needed infrastructure to facilitate intake, referral and case placement with pro bono attorneys. 

The goal is to create a replicable pro bono program to prevent evictions and reduce homelessness. The project will adopt best practices for developing and supporting volunteer resources and training (in-person and online) with video tutorials, intake and case referral, reporting and mentoring.

Members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation congratulated LASP and NLS on receiving the grant.

Sen. Bob Casey: “Legal Aid of Southeastern PA and the Neighborhood Legal Services Association provide essential legal assistance—from preventing evictions to protecting against abuse—to those who need it the most. This funding is an important step to create equitable solutions in the legal system, where many low-income Americans often face disproportionate challenges to seeing justice. I will continue to advocate for funding for the Legal Services Corporation to support legal aid organizations and the legal needs of all Pennsylvanians.”

Rep. Mike Doyle (PA-8): “This grant will help NLS tackle eviction and homelessness and, simply put, keep families in their homes. The Neighborhood Legal Services Association has provided pro-bono legal aid for over 55 years in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and the work has never been more important than right now as we continue to feel the effects of the pandemic. Housing is essential for economic stability and wellness, and I look forward to seeing the impact of this funding for years to come.”

Rep. Madeleine Dean (PA-4): “Legal Aid of Southeastern PA is well-deserving of this grant. This funding will help grow their resources and their commitment to fair and accessible representation in our region – I am grateful for their transformative work with our constituents, and excited to continue to partner with them as they serve those most in need.”

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-1): “I am thrilled to hear that Legal Aid of Southeastern PA is a recipient of the well-deserved Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant. The legal aid programs provided by Legal Services Corporation and Legal Aid of Southeastern PA are essential to obtaining legal justice for countless Americans across the country – including here in Pennsylvania. I am confident that this grant will go a long way in ensuring that the legal needs of low-income Americans in our community are met.”

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-5): “The imperative that we provide access to justice for low-income Americans is not just for those who live in major cities, so I am thrilled that Legal Aid of Southeastern PA (LASP) is receiving a Pro Bono Innovation Fund grant to develop a regional approach to pro bono work. By strengthening relationships with local partners and providing more effective training and resources, LASP will be able to engage more lawyers and non-legal professionals in pro bono service that can become part of the solution to persistent legal challenges in our region such as evictions, protection from abuse, and expungement. I commend LSC for promoting innovative ways to work with the private bar to address unmet legal needs in our community, and I look forward to seeing the results of LASP’s utilization of the PBIF grant.”

LASP and NLS are two of 12 legal aid organizations this year receiving Pro Bono Innovation Fund grants totaling $4,611,052.97. LSC awards these grants from its $4.75 million Pro Bono Innovation Fund included in its FY 2021 congressional appropriation. 

The fund was recommended by LSC’s Pro Bono Task Force in 2012. Since its creation in 2014, the Pro Bono Innovation Fund has invested $28 million in 94 pro bono projects around the country.

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