The Equal Justice Works Community Lawyering Program, inaugurated in 1993, places dedicated lawyers in two-year assignments at nonprofit justice organizations where they implement innovative projects that address unmet community needs. Today, there are 109 Equal Justice Works lawyers working throughout the nation in 50 communities in 25 states, including 11 in the San Francisco Bay Area that will be supported, in part, by this grant from the San Francisco Foundation.
Substandard housing, air and water pollution, domestic violence, and increasingly rationed access to health care are just some of the social challenges faced by communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Additional resources are increasingly required to address these problems and bring justice to the Bay Area's most vulnerable members - including children and youth, people with disabilities, gays and lesbians, the homeless, and racial and ethnic minorities. "We regularly see our clients living in apartments with rats, roaches, mold on the walls and windows, peeling paint, holes in the walls, flooding, broken windows, broken stoves, and no heat or hot water," said Jeff Selbin, Executive Director of the East Bay Community Law Center. "We currently do not have the resources to tackle this problem in a comprehensive manner, including education, direct services, affirmative lawsuits, and policy advocacy and reform."
The Equal Justice Works community lawyering project, which began in September 2003 at the East Bay Community Law Center, directly addresses this unmet need.
Major funding for the Equal Justice Works community lawyering program is provided by a multi-million dollar, multi-year challenge grant from the Open Society Institute (OSI).
The San Francisco Foundation ranks second in grant-making and fifth in assets among the nation's community foundations. Together with a family of donors in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Foundation gives millions of dollars each year to build on community assets, respond to community needs, and elevate public awareness. For more information, visit www.sff.org.