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Joanna Adler

2017, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Joanna Adler

Joanna Adler

Name of Host Organization: Public Counsel
City, State: Los Angeles, California
Issue area: Consumer Rights
Sponsors: Anonymous

The Project

Protect low-income student borrowers from predatory and abusive debt collection practices and effect systemic reform of the debt collection industry through innovative modes of advocacy.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
Americans owe over $1.3 trillion in student loan debt. One out of every four student borrowers are either currently in default on their loans, or struggling to make repayments. Low-income student borrowers bear the majority of the student debt burden and are more likely to default on their loans. Without legal assistance, low-income students who sought an education to create better lives for themselves and their families will be trapped in the cycle of poverty for generations to come.
The Right Person For This Project

Joanna is the right person for the project because she:
• Has experience providing direct legal services, advocating at administrative hearings, and engaging in policy advocacy on behalf of low-income individuals.
• Believes that economic opportunity is a key to social justice and is deeply committed to helping ensure that students have the opportunity to craft their own futures.

Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship

In the first six months, Joanna will:
• Reach out to and engage in discussions with students, schools, consumer organizations, and other key stakeholders to build an advocacy coalition.
• Create and distribute digital “know your rights” materials and develop content for online self-advocacy trainings.
• Establish partnerships with schools and public libraries for the traveling debt collection legal clinic.
• Draft training and best practices manuals for the traveling debt collection legal clinic and the virtual debt collection legal clinic.
• Establish a data tracking system for the legal clinics to capture client demographics, areas of high need, patterns of abuse, and to measure overall clinic effectiveness.