Kat Grant

The Project

Kat’s (they/them/theirs) project will work to improve the legal landscape for LGBTQIA+ people in the United States through focused effort on advocacy based on the free exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment.

In the United States, an estimated 8 million adults and 2 million minors identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. They are significantly more likely to be placed in situations where the separation of church and state is critical to protecting their health, safety, and well-being. The intrusion of religion on government programs impacts LGBTQIA+ youth, adults, families, and individuals at every imaginable level. Each time rights for LGBTQIA+ people expand, there are efforts to roll those rights back under the guise of religious freedom. First amendment advocacy is a critical part of continuing to build and protect LGBTQIA+ communities.

Kat’s passion for advocacy started with their experiences as an openly queer student. They remain committed to making the world a safer, more equitable place for all members of LGBTQIA+ communities.

Fellowship Plans

During their Fellowship, Kat will work on litigation through representation and amicus briefs as LGBTQIA+ rights cases make their way through the court system. They will also work on public educational materials such as know your rights resources and webinars. Additionally,they will participate in legislative advocacy efforts.

Media

New Legal Fellows Join FFRF, Including One on a Prestigious Fellowship

As a queer person who grew up in a conservative religious community, I know first-hand how important the separation of church and state is to ensure the safety and dignity of LGBTQIA+ individuals and communities.

Kat Grant /
2022 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Kaitlin promoted housing and educational stability for children negatively impacted by eviction and housing insecurity through free legal aid provided in school-based and virtual clinic settings, as well as through direct representation and policy advocacy.

Studies show that eviction is a cause of poverty, not a condition. Families who experience eviction have higher rates of residential mobility and often experience prolonged homelessness. Students with high rates of residential instability and homeless students perform worse on standardized tests, have lower school achievement and delayed literacy skills, are more likely to be truant, and are more likely to drop out, compared with their peers. Increased residential mobility has also been linked to higher rates of adolescent violence and children’s health risks. Eviction disparately impacts communities of color, where high eviction rates result in lower community investment and difficulty maintaining social capital. In Chicago, landlords filed for evictions at substantially higher rates in majority Black community areas. Chicago landlords are represented in almost 80% of eviction cases filed, while only 11% of tenants have attorneys, demonstrating an unmet legal need.

Before attending law school, Katie worked with Teach For America in the West Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago where she spent three years there teaching children ages 8-18 everything from math to social studies. Through this experience, she gained an intimate understanding of how critical housing is to a child’s educational success. Katie eventually left the classroom to positively impact the lives of low-income families, like those of her former students, on a higher level.

Fellowship Highlights

During her two-year Fellowship, Kaitlin:

  • Established in-person school clinic operations at the George Leland Elementary School in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago in February and March of 2020
  • Utilized a virtual clinic model to continue school clinic operations after Chicago Public School closures in March of 2020 in response to the pandemic
  • Conducted numerous community outreach events to inform tenants of recent COVID-19 related changes to the eviction process and other areas of housing law
  • Provided brief legal advice and direct representation to over 90 clients facing eviction and other housing needs
  • Helped to pass housing legislation in Illinois, in collaboration with other advocacy groups, which provided for codification of a statewide rental assistance program and mandatory sealing of eviction cases filed during the COVID-19 pandemic

Next Steps

Kaitlin plans to continue working with her host organization Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, providing free legal aid to tenants and their families.

The Project

Emma helped address the legal needs of survivors of human trafficking, including immigration petitions, civil lawsuits, and victim advocacy with law enforcement as well as in criminal cases. She helped to address the gap in legal resources and support services for survivors of labor trafficking in Indiana by conducting outreach to vulnerable populations, leading training to community partners, and providing legal services to survivors. 

Emma attended law school to become a competent advocate for immigrant rights and soon became interested in public interest law. A great deal of her studies and work have centered on immigrant populations and English language learners. Her previous employment with a refugee resettlement organization and later as an attorney at an immigration firm increased her understanding that an effective advocate for immigrants must not only be organized and attentive but also extremely compassionate. Emma feels these attributes are also necessary when representing survivors of human trafficking. 

Media

ILS files labor-trafficking suit for migrant workers

The Inspiration

The Project

David provided foreclosure legal defense for homeowners as well as assistance to members of the housing counseling community to create a level playing field between banks and homeowners facing the prospect of losing their home.

The Project

Katherine worked to ensure that income and work support benefits were delivered to eligible low-income individuals and families in a timely, efficient, and rule-based manner by providing direct legal services and investigating systemic issues that may be the cause of a decline in the number of eligible beneficiaries receiving Ohio Works First cash benefits.

In Ohio, the Department of Job and Family Services (JFS) administers public benefits such as Ohio Works First (OWF) case benefits, SNAP, Medicaid, and subsidized child care.  Each county has its own JFS office.  With the high volume of new SNAP recipients in Ohio and the significant cuts to the funding of JFS, many counties have experienced significant backlogs and delays in processing applications, higher than normal incidences of lost paperwork, improper recertification processes, and general misapplication of eligibility rules.  Individual applicants need legal representation to ensure they receive the benefits for which they are eligible and advocacy to address systemic issues that hinder the timely and accurate processing of applications.

Fellowship Highlights

During her Fellowship, Katherine:

  • Provided legal assistance to over 100 clients with public benefit issues
  • Represented AmeriCorps VISTA participants whose publicly funded child care benefits were terminated by JFS and received a favorable administrative decision regarding a more inclusive definition of what constitutes “work activity”
  • Worked with the Bureau of State Hearings to create a uniform policy for late appearances to state hearings
  • Worked with local JFS offices to create a uniform assessment for hardship and good cause extensions for OWF recipients

What’s Next

Katherine works as a staff attorney in the Public Benefits Project at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri.  She is passionate about alleviating food insecurity and works with state and national partners to increase access to SNAP benefits in Missouri.

Media

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri has three Advocates selected as 2021 National Race Equity Fellows for Racial Justice Institute

Food stamp applicants struggle to get through Missouri call center line

Messenger: In need of food stamps for first time, family struggles to navigate Missouri system

Food stamp need soars in Missouri as job losses mount during pandemic

The drop in children from Medicaid has raised alarms. What about other social programs?

The Project

Fostering family security and community education through the delivery of high-quality legal services to underserved or low-income immigrant families.

The project addresses and handles immigration matters with a focus on helping local families obtain or improve their immigration status. Also, provides high-quality legal services including community outreach and education, legal screening, brief advice, full-scope representation, and pro bono placement.