KyMara Guidry

The Project

KyMara expands legal representation available to Georgia youth with disabilities, primarily Black and Brown boys, to keep them in schools free from segregation on the basis of their identity.

Of the 14,000 children in Georgia’s foster care system, only 11% graduate from high school. Georgia’s foster youth are navigating the traumatic experience of being removed from their home, and these children face harsh consequences at school when their experiences impact their behavior and conduct.  School disciplinary incidents make foster youth more susceptible to suspensions and expulsions. While children are entitled to legal representation in school disciplinary hearings or tribunals, over 95% of Georgia students appear in tribunals without representation. 

KyMara was inspired to use the law to impact the lives of vulnerable youth through her experiences as a high school English teacher in rural South Louisiana, where she witnessed the systemic barriers her students faced and the lasting impact of those barriers. She hopes that by advocating for foster youth, she will decrease the number of students impacted by exclusionary discipline.   

Fellowship Plans

KyMara will ensure that more students with disabilities in Georgia schools receive an equitable education where they are not funneled into segregated schools through the special education process. She provides special education advocacy and direct legal representation to children recommended for segregated school placement; raises awareness and engages in community outreach regarding segregated schools and its connection to school segregation; and advocates for policy reforms that will improve the lives of children in foster care, specifically those who identify as LGBTQIA+ and/or have a disability.

I believe that education can be liberating when schools are a safe space for all our youth, especially those that are most vulnerable.

KyMara Guidry /
2020 Equal Justice Works Fellow

The Project

Mississippi Volunteer Lawyers Project (MVLP) is a joint venture of the Mississippi Bar and Legal Service entities in Mississippi. MVLP recruits, supervises and assists volunteer attorneys in their provision of pro bono legal services. MVLP assists indigent Mississippians through various legal clinics, a free advice hotline and direct legal representation. During my second year as an AmeriCorps Fellow, I intend to continue assisting MVLP in their capacity-building efforts.

The Inspiration

The Project

As an AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, I am involved in a number of activities aimed at eliminating the justice gap. Through direct representation regarding a variety of matters, such as adoption and divorce, and clinical activities, underserved populations receive vital services. An equally important component of my work is recruiting attorneys and law students to provide services for low-income Mississippians. By illustrating that pro bono activities benefit clients and volunteers, I hope to facilitate the rendition of justice.

The Inspiration

The Project

I am working on encouraging schools in the Jackson Public School district to consider alternative discipline methods to suspension and expulsion so that fewer children will be out of school as a result of discipline issues. Also, as a second part of the project, I am working with those same community partners to establish a model to train attorneys, parents and other advocates to represent students at suspension or explusion hearings.

Media

The Project

In addition to representing clients concerning a variety of domestic issues, I conduct clinics on various issues including wills, intestate succession, advance directives and guardianships. As legal needs change, clinics are tailored to meet the needs of the targeted communities. An equally important aspect of my role is to recruit attorneys and law students to the capacity of the organization. By informing prospective volunteers that their participation can have a dramatic impact, I hope to decrease the justice gap.

The Inspiration

The Inspiration

The Project

Kyra’s Fellowship focused on expungement and employment re-entry services for ex-offenders throughout the state of Mississippi.

The Project

Brittany filled a justice gap in Memphis by providing civil legal services to low-income immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, and educating them about their civil rights.

Despite its large low-income immigrant population, Memphis previously had no programs offering low-cost civil legal services to immigrants. Language needs, lack of awareness of non-citizen’s Constitutional right to access the justice system, and predators who take advantage of immigrants’ fears further blocked meaningful access to the courts. This project helped alleviate those hurdles with direct representation for low-income immigrants on their civil matters and educational workshops on immigrants’ civil legal rights.

Fellowship Highlights

Brittany’s project provided representation to over 135 clients in their civil legal matters including divorces, adoptions, guardianships, conservatorships, name changes, landlord/tenant matters, and consumer disputes. She provided nearly 60 additional individuals with legal advice or referrals. During the Fellowship, Brittany prepared and conducted 14 workshops, outreach events, and educational videos, which reached more than 2,000 people. To expand the reach and impact of her project, Brittany built partnerships and collaborated with nine other nonprofit organizations in the Memphis community. Brittany also facilitated a legal clinic in which volunteer International Paper attorneys and paralegals assisted immigrant clients by preparing documents for their uncontested divorces.

Next Steps

Following her Fellowship, Brittany has stayed on with Community Legal Center as a staff attorney in its Immigrant Justice Program.

Media

CityCURRENT Radio Show: Community Legal Center

Equal Justice Works Fellowship Will Provide Civil Legal Services for Memphis Immigrants

Want a Divorce? It Could Be Easier Than You Think - And It Could Be Free

Basic Rights and Responsibilities of Renters

Immigrants Are Being Targeted in Housing Scams: What to Watch Out For