Similarly, our local legal Bar has distinguished itself with its service and its leadership. No fewer than nine Jacksonville lawyers have been elected as president of The Florida Bar and five have presided over The Florida Bar Foundation. In sum, we share a commitment to justice.
The Florida Bar Foundation, a 501(c)(3) public charity, turns the commitment to justice into action through its funding of programs that provide access to justice for Floridians. The Florida Bar Foundation's mission is founded on a simple belief: the justice system works best when it works for everyone — regardless of his or her economic status.
Locally, The Florida Bar Foundation is a vital funding source for Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, as well as Three Rivers Legal Services, whose service area includes Duval County. Through its Improvements in the Administration of Justice Grant Program, the foundation also helps fund special projects and initiatives across the state such as the Innocence Project of Florida, which has succeeded in exonerating 13 wrongfully imprisoned Floridians using DNA evidence since 2003, and the Florida Law Related Education Association, which teaches Florida students about demo-cracy and the American legal system.
If you visit the foundation's website, you will be impressed with the number and diversity of the grantees assisted by the foundation.
In recent years, due to the impact of extremely low bank interest rates on IOTA revenue (its primary source of funding), the foundation has had to drastically reduce its grants. Whereas in 2010, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid received a foundation general support grant of $1,193,455 to provide legal services, as well as a $82,400 foundation grant specifically for Children's Legal Services, in 2013 those grant amounts were $543,022 and $35,979, respectively. Overall, foundation funding is now about a quarter of overall legal aid funding statewide.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to learn more about The Florida Bar Foundation, an organization in which all of us can take tremendous pride; and one that brings critical resources back to our community. Collectively, we have made a difference. Together, we can continue. Please visit the foundation's website (floridabarfoundation.org) and educate yourself to the great work being done by champions like you. Thank you.
Jacksonville has a long and storied history as it relates to civil rights and equal justice. James Weldon Johnson, A. Philip Randolph, I.M. Sulzbacher and Clara White are but a few of the notable names who have led by example.