LSC Awards Disaster Relief Funds to SMRLS

June 9, 2021

WASHINGTON – The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) announced today that three legal aid organizations will receive grants totaling $1 million to help low-income communities respond to the impact of COVID-19. LSC’s Midwest Legal Disaster Coordination Project funds efforts to address crucial disaster-related legal needs by establishing partnerships among legal services providers, volunteer attorneys and disaster response organizations. This funding will support the work of LSC grantees in Minnesota, Missouri and Montana and supplements prior efforts to help low-income communities in the Midwest region prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

Legal aid is essential in helping survivors get back on their feet. When a disaster strikes, the vulnerabilities of low-income people are heightened, and the need for legal assistance becomes even more critical. COVID-19 has caused a surge in demand for legal services, as the pandemic continues to disrupt the lives and financial security of people across the country. Survivors need experts who understand the legal issues involved and who can help them file insurance claims, apply for benefits, negotiate with landlords and more.  

Southern Minnesota Regional Services will use its $333,333 grant to expand and enhance outreach services for its Education Law Advocacy Project. The project seeks to address the impact remote learning has had on students’ educational progress, which disproportionately affects low-income  and  Limited  English Proficiency  students  due  to  the increased  likelihood   that strong internet connectivity and digital proficiency will be lacking.

Legal Aid of Western Missouri’s $333,333 grant will allow it to hire additional staff, including two  full-time  attorneys, to  meet  the  growing  need  for  unemployment compensation assistance and stimulus assistance brought on by COVID-19. 

Montana Legal Services Association’s $333,334 grant will support its existing Disaster Legal Services program by allowing it to hire an additional full-time disaster recovery attorney to help clients navigate legal problems related to COVID-19. The organization will also launch the Tribal Advocate Incubator Initiative to train and mentor new attorneys living in rural Montana to provide advice and full representation either pro-bono, or at a reduced rate, to Tribal members.

The Midwest Legal Disaster Coordination Project is made possible by funding from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.

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