American College of Bankruptcy Announces 2022 Pro Bono Grantees

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

The American College of Bankruptcy and the American College of Bankruptcy Foundation announced today that they have awarded 45 pro bono grants, totaling $436,587, to legal services organizations located in 20 states, plus the District of Columbia. As part of their missions, the College and the Foundation, through the Foundation's Pro Bono Committee, award grants to organizations providing assistance to individuals and groups in need of bankruptcy-related legal representation, training and/or education.


The grantees include organizations in large metropolitan areas such as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, and San Diego, as well as in smaller cities such as Baltimore, Burlington VT, Cincinnati, Denver, Flint MI, Mobile, Nashville, Salt Lake City, and Tucson. The awards include grants to six new grantees that have not previously received a grant from the Foundation. The grantees will use our funds to assist with volunteer trainings, pro se clinics, self-help desks, and technology or equipment, often to assist in remote and in-person communications with clients and volunteers. Many of the grantees have partnered with local bar associations or volunteer bankruptcy professionals to leverage their resources and maximize their reach. Since 2012, the College and Foundation have awarded over $4.3 million in grants to these worthy programs


The Foundation awarded its Michael L. Cook Extraordinary Grant to Innovation for Justice, based out of the University of Arizona and the University of Utah. Innovation for Justice is a social justice innovation lab housed at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law and the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business, and has partnered with AAA Fair Credit in a two-year pilot that will train nonlawyer medical debt legal advocates (MDLAs) to provide free, limited scope legal advice to people experiencing medical debt. This is the first pilot in the U.S. to incorporate nonlawyer limited-scope, medical-debt-related legal advice into social services. During the pilot phase, the MDLA will be qualified to provide limited-scope legal advice to medical debt defendants upon completing an MDLA curriculum and passing an exam within that curriculum. Defendants in medical debt collection actions will be notified of the availability of MDLA services at the time they receive a 10-day summons. The MDLA curriculum also includes extensive training on bankruptcy law: the MDLA will be able to provide limited-scope legal advice to clients considering declaring bankruptcy due to their medical debt and help clients determine whether referral to a bankruptcy lawyer would be helpful.


The Michael L. Cook Extraordinary Grant was created in Mr. Cook's honor in 2016. It is awarded to a legal services organization that offers an innovative and exemplary approach to a previously under-served area of need. A Fellow since 1997, Michael Cook served as Chair and President of the College and Chair of its Board of Regents from 2010-2016, and as Chair of the Pro Bono Committee from 2008-2010.


The Foundation’s Pro Bono Committee will be expanding its role in 2023 and will be reviewing grant requests for DEI initiatives, and approved a $7,500 grant to the Federal Bar Association for the Eastern District of Michigan (FBA). The FBA has made it a part of its mission to work with the community to build a pipeline of diverse talent in the legal profession. In furtherance of that goal, the Bankruptcy Committee of the FBA created a program offering internships with bankruptcy courts within the district and with the Clerk of Court’s office. The Bankruptcy Committee will use the Foundation’s grant to fund (i) two law clerk internships (for diverse law students) with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and (ii) one internship (for a diverse undergraduate student) with the Clerk of Court’s office. 


At the most recent meeting of the College Board of Directors, Melissa Kibler, Chair of the Board, expressed her thanks to the leadership of the Foundation and the Pro Bono Committee, and her appreciation to the members of the Committee for having reviewed and analyzed countless grant applications and selected such worthy recipients. She also praised the Fellows of the College for their generous donations, saying it was heartwarming that Fellows continually help fund public service organizations that are doing such important work for those in need.

The College and the Foundation awarded grants to the following organizations this year:

Access Justice Brooklyn

Brooklyn, NY


Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A

Brooklyn, NY


California Western Community Law Project

San Diego, CA


Campbell University's Pro Bono Clinic

Buis Creek, NC


City Bar Justice Center

New York, NY


Conejo Free Clinic

Thousand Oaks, CA


Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project

Philadelphia, PA


Dade Legal Aid - Put Something Back

Miami, FL


DC Bar Pro Bono Center

Washington, DC


Denver Bar Association's Metro Volunteer Lawyers

Denver, CO


Emergency Legal Responders

New Orleans, LA


Financial Protection Law Center

Wilmington, NC


Her Justice, Inc.

New York, NY


Inner Banks Legal Services

Washington, NC


Legal Access Alameda

Oakland, CA


Legal Aid Association of California

Oakland, CA


Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH


Legal Aid Society of San Diego

San Diego, CA


Legal Assistance of Western New York

Geneva, NY


Legal Services NYC

New York, NY


Legal Services of Eastern Michigan

Flint, MI


Legal Services Vermont

Burlington, VT


Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service

Baltimore, MD


Mid-Shore Pro Bono

Easton, MD


Nashville Conflict Resolution Center

Nashville, TN


Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County

Los Angeles, CA


Ohio State Legal Services Association

Columbus, OH


People's Legal Aid - Utah

Salt Lake City, UT


Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland

Baltimore, MD


Public Counsel

Los Angeles, CA


Public Law Center

Santa Ana, CA


Public Service Law Corporation dba Riverside Legal Aid

Riverside, CA


Rutgers University Law School Pro Bono

Camden, NJ


S.J. Quinney College of Law

Salt Lake City, UT


South Alabama Volunteer Lawyers Program

Mobile, AL


Step Up to Justice

Tucson, AZ


Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association

Tampa, FL


The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

Cleveland, OH


The Pro Bono Project

New Orleans, LA


Utah Legal Services

Salt Lake City, UT


Veterans Legal Services

Boston, MA


Volunteer Lawyers for Justice

Newark, NJ


Volunteer Lawyers Network

Minneapolis, MN


Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Boston Bar Association

Boston, MA