Equal Justice Works Receives a Grant from OVC

Grant Will Support Organization’s Work to Mobilize Lawyers to Provide Legal Aid to Victims of Crime in Underserved Communities.

Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today announced that it has been awarded a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, to launch the Crime Victims Advocacy Program (CVAP), a two-year legal Fellowship program.

In 2020, almost 17 million Americans were victims of crime, including more than 4.5 million violent crimes and more than 12 million property crimes. Additionally, crime victimization disproportionately impacts racial minority groups. Crime survivors often face complex legal issues, which can be overwhelming to navigate without legal representation. Victimization can create a myriad of civil legal problems and intensify pre-existing challenges faced by victims and their families. Studies uniformly show that individuals represented by lawyers receive better outcomes than unrepresented or self-represented individuals.

The Crime Victims Advocacy Program at Equal Justice Works will place 21 attorney Fellows at legal services organizations across the country to provide civil legal services for victims of crime in underserved communities, specifically communities of color, and to enforce their rights. In addition to mobilizing attorney Fellows, CVAP will also include a cohort of 21 summer law student Fellows who will support the work of attorney Fellows and help build a pipeline of victims’ rights attorneys who have sustained careers in this field.

“It is essential for crime victims to have access to legal aid to enforce their rights and address many legal issues they may face after the victimization,” noted Verna Williams, CEO at Equal Justice Works. “We are incredibly grateful to the Office of Victims of Crime’s support of this program to provide critical legal services and strengthen community responses for crime victims in underserved areas.”

Fellows in the Crime Victims Advocacy Program will represent crime victims to enforce their rights and pursue available legal remedies for their clients. They will also engage with the community at large through outreach, community education, and partnership-building activities to increase underserved communities’ capacity to effectively support victims.

The Crime Victims Advocacy Program will be implemented in collaboration with the training and technical assistance (TTA) provider, the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI). As the national expert on victim law and legal training, NCVLI will provide intensive and multi-faceted TTA to the Fellows throughout the program to develop their knowledge and skills on relevant legal issues and best practices and to create opportunities for peer learning.

Equal Justice Works plans to start the host organization selection process and open applications to become a CVAP Fellow in the winter of 2022/2023, and Fellows are expected to begin work during the summer of 2023.

For more information about the Crime Victims Advocacy Program, please contact [email protected].

This program is supported by an award under 15POVC-22-GK-01116-NONF, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this document are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.