Advancing Education's Promise, DLA Piper's national pro bono signature project, brings together the firm's collective education work with Promise Neighborhoods, Head Start programs, special education, and family, child, and nonprofit support under a single program. The firm has worked with Promise Neighborhoods since 2010 in Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, East Palo Alto, New York and Washington, DC.
Achieving the DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative's (DCPNI) goals requires that it be a strong organization on solid legal ground. To that end, DLA Piper provides pro bono legal services to DCPNI. The firm represents DCPNI as an organization in areas such as corporate, intellectual property, real estate and employment.
DLA Piper is also committed to working in partnership with DCPNI to support its efforts to ensure that each and every child in the Kenilworth-Parkside neighborhood of Washington, DC successfully completes their educational experience, and is prepared for success in college, career and as a civically engaged citizen. Part of removing the roadblocks to these achievements is addressing the civil legal needs of DCPNI residents that interfere with them fulfilling their potential. To that end, DLA Piper is sponsoring an Equal Justice Works Fellow hosted by Bread for the City and working with the Fellow to conduct a legal needs assessment of the community. The firm will then create a legal services clinic to meet those needs through information sessions, brief advice and referral, and direct representation, likely on issues such as domestic violence, landlord/tenant, consumer, and family law among other issues.
DLA Piper will work in conjunction with DCPNI and the Equal Justice Works (EJW) Fellow at Bread for the City to implement the following action plan for the Legal Services Clinic:
From approximately September 2012 to March 2013, DLA Piper will assess the community's needs, become familiar with the DCPNI footprint, participate in school-based and community activities, and meet key school personnel, social workers, and partners in the area. The firm will define the parameters of the DCPNI Legal Services Clinics by identifying areas for direct representation and develop a referral network of providers who can meet the needs that fall outside the clinic's work. Specific goals will be set for intake and provision of legal services. Lawyers will be recruited to participate in the clinic. A practice manual will be created and training will be provided to volunteer lawyers. The Legal Services Clinic will be advertised and launched within the community, including a community education component about the need for, and benefit of, legal services.
From April 2013 through August 2014, Bread for the City and DLA Piper volunteer lawyers will provide legal services ranging from Know Your Rights sessions to brief advice and referral to direct representation. Data will be gathered continuously and will be analyzed regularly to ensure all goals are being met. The clinic's operations will be adjusted as areas of need are identified through the data analysis. The firm will also explore partnering with the pro bono programs at other law firms that also are committed to improving the provision of legal services in DC.
The Department of Education's Promise Neighborhood program is part of President Obama's Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, which aims to improve distressed neighborhoods by attacking education, safety, health and other problem-areas in a coordinated fashion. The Promise Neighborhoods program aims to significantly improve the educational and development outcomes of children through place-based, data-driven initiatives that provide wraparound educational, social, and health services for children and young adults from cradle to college while engaging their parents with the schools and with their own educational improvement and job training.
The vision of the DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative (DCPNI) is that each child and parent in the Ward 7 community of Kenilworth-Parkside will receive the 'Five Promises', which includes: caring adults; physical and emotional safety wherever they are; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others. DCPNI's mission is to "increase the number of children who complete their education from cradle to college, and enter adulthood as productive participants in the 21st Century economy and in the civic life of their communities."
The wraparound services provided within a promise neighborhood deliver a holistic approach of taking care of a community from early stage education through family support at all levels to ensure those within the community are given an opportunity to lead healthy, vibrant and productive lives. Part of DLA Piper's contribution to the Promise Neighborhoods is to provide legal services to the residents of the community, which will enable them to focus on and provide stability to their families.