The Austin Community Law Center was recently awarded a grant of $15,000 by the Texas Bar Foundation. This generous grant will allow us to continue and expand our Family Security Legal Clinic program. “We are grateful to the Texas Bar Foundation for helping us expand this important program,” said Brian McGiverin, ACLC’s Executive Director.
Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $20 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation's largest charitably-funded bar foundation.
We began our clinics in 2017 to help low-income clients create vitally necessary legal documents at no cost. We’ve been able to do this work thanks to a $5,000 grant from the Austin Bar Foundation, the partnership of Austin Voices for Education and Youth, and an amazing network of dedicated volunteers who have provided free legal and interpretation services.
Local attorney Selena Alveranga, one of our dedicated legal volunteers, explains why she chooses to donate her time to our clinics, “It’s heart-breaking to see families that are involuntarily separated and that don’t have a plan for how to address the care of the children that are left behind. The segment of the community that the clinics target doesn’t normally have access to legal services that will help them put in place a plan. That is why being able to provide that service is so necessary and so rewarding.”
We chose to focus initially on helping AISD families with wills, powers of attorney, and advance designations of guardianship, because we know how crucial those documents are to every family. As Jose Carrasco, Lead Community School Coordinator/Director of Dobie MS Family Resource Center, puts it, “The best thing about hosting the clinics at schools is that people can be scared to deal with legal issues. Schools are a safe environment where parents feel welcome. They’re a safe space to talk about these issues. If you need a power of attorney because you’re worried about what will happen to your kids or your property if you’re deported, it can be stressful and scary to discuss this. But at the schools, families know it’s a safe space where they can be honest, and not worry that someone’s going to take advantage of their situation.”
Earlier this year, we expanded our outreach by bringing on Grassroots Leadership/ICE Out of Austin as a new partner. Their work complements our own, as many of our clients have immigration statuses that render them vulnerable to detention and deportation. With our new grant, which is three times larger than our previous grant, we will be able to expand the types of legal services we offer, the number of clinics we hold, and the community organizations we partner with.