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Broward Legal Aid wins NBCUniversal grant.

Legal Aid Service of Broward County has been awarded a grant from NBCUniversal Foundation's 21st Century Solutions for the "MISSION UNITED Veterans Pro Bono Project" (VPBP).

The project is a collaborative partnership with the United Way of Broward County and provides free, civil legal representation to eligible service members, veterans, and their families to address their particular legal needs.

Among the 1,800 United Way organizations worldwide, MISSION UNITED was the winner of the 2014 Common Good Award for Mobilizing Community Resources. Key focus areas include employment readiness, education, health, legal assistance, emergency financial aid, and housing. Florida is home to the third largest population of veterans in the nation.

VPBP recruits, trains, and mentors volunteer attorneys to represent veterans in need of legal representation in Broward County. This approach allows an increasing number of veterans to receive assistance and representation to overcome obstacles in more than 14 civil legal areas.

Since its inception in February 2013, the project has served more than 1,000 veterans. VPBP is managed by one full-time staff attorney and paralegal, who work with more than 320 volunteer attorneys who have committed to provide free legal representation through VPBP. As of December 2014, these volunteer attorneys had performed in excess of 1,050 hours of pro bono civil legal representation.

The NBCUniversal Foundation grant will enable Broward Legal Aid to hire an additional staff attorney to serve more veterans in the legal area with the highest demand--family law. An additional staff attorney, whose sole practice is family law, is expected to reduce the current wait list and enable VPBP to serve an additional 150 veterans.

"Family law issues can impact a veteran's ability to secure benefits, obtain housing, and retain employment," said Andrea Macatangay, supervising attorney for the VPBP. "The stress of not being able to afford an attorney to represent them in legal matters that impact their lives and/or their children can have a detrimental effect on their ability to transition successfully from military to civilian life."

The NBCUniversal Foundation works with local NBC stations to promote the grant and create a community panel to review and select the final grant recipients.

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Title Annotation:On the Move; NBCUniversal Foundation's 21st Century Solutions for the "MISSION UNITED Veterans Pro Bono Project
Publication:Florida Bar News
Date:Mar 1, 2015
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