Walk in their shoes

A tour-participant reads the stories inspired by real CASA cases in the “Walk in Their Shoes” exhibit as part of the Every Word Heard Tour held at the Athens County Courthouse on Friday.

Note: This story appears in the Friday, Dec. 6 newspaper on Page A1.

The Ohio State Bar Foundation is awarding $454,648 to 13 Ohio nonprofit organizations with unique projects across the state through its Fall Grants Cycle. Each project fulfills the OSBF’s mission of promoting the pursuit of justice and public understanding of the rule of law.

$15,000 of this funding will go to the Athens County Court Appointed Special Advocates Guardians Ad Litem Program (CASA/GAL) for the Every Word Heard project.

The CASA program operates as part of a larger network of related programs across the state and nation, but the Every Word Heard project is local to the county. The goal is to provide advocates for abused or neglected children and to help them move quickly and smoothly through the court process so they can end up in a safe, permanent home as soon as possible.

As the name suggests, advocates are there to ensure “every word” is heard in the court process, ensuring the childrens’ needs are taken care of and addressed in a timely, helpful manner.

The funding is intended to support staff and volunteer training to help youths and teens in foster care, as well as those recently emancipated, to help them understand their rights.

Other awards from this grant cycle include:

  • $100,000 to Ohio Legal Help for its Content Expansion and Continuous Improvement project, which will expand its website content.
  • $75,000 to the Law and Leadership Institute for its Diversity in Leadership Fellowship project. Aimed at first-year law students, this will help them explore diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and expand understanding of the issues impacting the recruitment and retention of diverse attorneys.

$50,000 to the Immigrant and Refugee Law Center for its Volunteer

  • Attorney Program. Through this program, the organization will provide hands-on immigration law education to law students and lawyers.
  • $50,000 to the Ohio Justice and Policy Center for development of its Digital Resources Center to create an online resource center to provide information on legal issues for incarcerated people, rights of prisoners, criminal justice-related activities, and changing laws for criminal-records mitigation.
  • $41,200 to the Ohio State Bar Association for its Rural Practice Clerkship Program to attract new lawyers to rural practice by connecting them with experienced practitioners.
  • $37,975 to the Ohio Alliance of YMCAs Foundation to expand its YMCA Youth & Government Program. Through this program, Ohio middle school and high school students are provided leadership training, civic engagement opportunities, and insights into national- and state-level government.
  • $22,200 to the Equality Ohio Education Fund for Phase II of Equality Ohio’s Legal Clinic to provide legal and quasi-legal services to LGBTQ Ohioans.
  • $21,773 to Ohio State Legal Services Association for the Carroll County Consumer Education and Outreach Project, which will provide legal help and education to people in Carroll County on the need and how to of responding to lawsuits by creditors in the secondary market.
  • $20,500 to Legal Aid Society of Columbus for its legal Help for Successful Community Reentry project. This project will help remove barriers to reentry and employment for soon-to-be-released inmates.
  • $11,000 to the University of Cincinnati, Clermont, for the Justice in Jeans Legal Clinic. This clinic will provide attorney-led informational sessions for students and community members in an accessible, non-intimidating environment.

CASA/GAL Athens is often seeking new volunteers. Interested individuals can apply online at athenscasa.org/apply.

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