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Informed Citizens

are Better Citizens

The New Jersey State Bar Foundation (NJSBF) has awarded $100,000 in emergency grant funding to 21 nonprofit organizations in New Jersey that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Foundation’s Emergency Community Law Grants support nonprofit agencies as they assist New Jersey residents to better understand the laws that affect them every day.

“For more than 25 years, it has been the Foundation’s mission to serve the public by providing free, law-related education. The Foundation couldn’t be prouder to carry out this important mission during this unprecedented time when the legal community and nonprofits are also being impacted by this pandemic,” said Norberto A. Garcia, president of the NJSBF, the charitable and educational wing of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

Darren M. Maloney, director of legal services at Catholic Family & Community Services in Paterson, said the $4,005 grant it received was “absolutely a lifesaver for us.”

He said the pandemic dealt a tough blow to the nonprofit, which was already facing budget cuts. Maloney said his clients are largely poor immigrants from Central America facing challenging situations.

“When we notified clients we had this lifesaving grant from the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, we had people nearly crying on the other end of the line,” Maloney said.

“We were able to use this grant money to defray the cost for some very needy cases, including a Venezuelan family’s asylum application. The parents and their two children fled the country and left everything behind after the husband received death threats for his labor union protest activities. They were just scraping by, and when the pandemic hit they were really in dire straits,” he said.

Rania Mustafa, executive director of the Palestinian American Community Center in Clifton, said it used the Foundation’s $5,000 grant to help defray the cost to contract with an attorney, accountant and social services specialist. The professionals provided consultations and a three-part series of webinars on social media that addressed benefits and government services available under emergency COVID-19 laws, such as stimulus checks and the Paycheck Protection Program, and on unemployment issues, tenants’ and homeowners’ rights.

Mustafa said the grant was helpful because it helped the center expand a community check-in program it started when the pandemic struck. The grant “came at the right time. A lot of people were struggling with a lot of these issues and they didn’t know who to turn to,” she said.

The webinars reached over 15,000 people on social media and inspired the center to continue the program, Mustafa said.

The 2020 Emergency Community Law Grant recipients are:

Arc of New Jersey
Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey
CAIR New Jersey
Camden County Bar Association
Catholic Family & Community Services
Disability Rights New Jersey
Eastern Service Workers Association
Education Law Center
Ironbound Community Corporation
Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Legal Aid Society of Monmouth County
Make the Road NJ
Morris County Organization for Hispanic Affairs
OASIS—A Haven for Women and Children
Palestinian American Community Center
Partnership for Maternal and Child Health of Northern New Jersey
Pushcart Players
SPAN Parent Advocacy Network
Volunteer Lawyers for Justice

The NJSBF believes that informed citizens are better citizens. In addition to the emergency grants, the NJSBF created a COVID-19 information page addressing many law-related topics of interest to New Jersey communities.