In December 2023, The Florida Bar Foundation changed its name to FFLA. Posts prior to this date contain our former name.
The Florida Bar Foundation Board of Directors held its quarterly board meeting on September 15, 2023, in Maitland, Florida. Murray Silverstein presided over the meeting and grantee presentations were given by Bethanie Barber, Executive Director, Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, and Jeff Harvey, Executive Director, Community Legal Services. The Foundation appreciates the work of its grantees and thanks Bethanie and Jeff for their insightful and interesting presentations.
The major actions of the board and reports received during the meeting included:
FY 23-24 Grant Allocation Approved
The Grants Allocation committee, chaired by Director Brian Currie, recommended, and the board approved, a total Grant Allocation of $40,071,130 for FY 23-24 as explained by Mr. Currie in accordance with the Grants Allocation Committee Report and Recommendation. This amount reflects 85% of FY 22-23 IOTA collections, realized investment income attributed to those collections, and an additional $1,000,000 received from other sources during the previous fiscal year.1
Mr. Currie explained the committee considered eight scenarios before arriving at its recommendation and concluded its ultimate recommendation: 1) Maximizes the amount of IOTA collections and monies for distribution to qualified grantee organizations (interest earned on 85% of IOTA collections are included in the allocated amount), 2) Increases the amount of less-restricted funding to $1,000,000 while preserving the Foundation’s pre-existing assets as much as possible. The primary reason for such is the pending determination of the methodology and resulting allocation of IOTA collections for reimbursing the Foundation for its operating expenses incurred in administering the IOTA program and performing the obligations imposed by the IOTA rule, and 3) Assumes that the Foundation will be able to pay the resulting deficit ($1,209,158) using IOTA collections designated as direct expenses under the rule and received in both FY 2021-22 and FY 2022-23. These funds remain separated and unspent to date.
FY 23-24 Grant Awards
Committee Chair Maria Gonzalez presented the Grants Committee’s Board Scenario Worksheet for FY 23-24 as reflected below:The total grant allocation amount for FY 23-24, based on current funds, was set at $40,071,130. Of this amount, $1,000,000 consists of non-IOTA funds earmarked for the Improvements in the Administration of Justice Grant Program ($900,000) and the Legal Aid Summer Fellowship Program ($100,000).
Of the remaining balance, $712,162 was allocated for payment of CY 2023 Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) loans, $800,900 for Children’s Legal Services, $218,000 for Law School Civil Legal Clinics, and $3,789,793 for Pro Bono Support & Enhancement Grants. The balance of all unspent IOTA collections received in FY 22-23 will be distributed to qualified grantee organizations on or before December 31, 2023, per the amended IOTA rule2.
The board also approved, subject to actual IOTA collections in FY 23-24, funding:
• $1 million for LRAP loans (200 loans at $5,000 each);
• $1.6 million for Children’s Legal Services Grants and Awards;
• $200,000 for Limited Matching Funds Grant Program;
• $200,000 for Training/Technology Initiative grants;
• $1 million for Law School Civil Legal Clinics;
• $4 million for Pro Bono Support & Enhancement Grants; and
• $2 million for Disaster Relief Grants.
Any awards using these funds are subject to eligibility requirements under the IOTA rule and the Foundation’s IOTA Work Plan.
IOTA Work Group Report
The IOTA Work Group, chaired by Immediate Past President Hon. Suzanne Van Wyk, reported on the Work Group’s significant activities. Namely, the Work Group:
1. Developed and recommended a funding plan for Pro Bono Support & Enhancement grants using IOTA collections. The plan was adopted by the Executive Committee on September 6.3
2. Reviewed and approved the sending of the Foundation’s First Report to the Florida Supreme Court regarding the 2021 amendments to the IOTA Rule. The Executive Committee on September 6 approved the Work Group’s recommendation and authorized Judge Van Wyk and Executive Director Donny MacKenzie to sign and send the report to Justice Couriel, the Court’s liaison to the Foundation. Judge Van Wyk reported that the report had been sent, and Donny MacKenzie announced that copies of it would be distributed to all board members and current grantees.
3. Recommended funding of certain Law School Civil Legal Clinics and Children’s Legal Services Grants using IOTA funds. While the Executive Committee initially approved this recommendation, Judge Van Wyk, on behalf of staff, asked that the decision to fund Law School Civil Legal Clinics with IOTA funds be withdrawn in an abundance of caution. After discussion, the Board voted to rescind the previous decision and authorized the Foundation to fund current Law School Civil Legal Clinics using pre-2021 reserves.
Lastly, Judge Van Wyk reported that work continues on developing and finalizing a Direct Expenses methodology. She also reported that a separate subcommittee was formed and is working on the creation of a Spending & Reserve Policy for IOTA collections. The Work Group will report back shortly after the subcommittee completes its work and presents its report and recommendation.
Report of the Development Committee
Director Ashley Sybesma reported that the Development Committee continues its extensive review of the committee’s purpose and the creation of a proposed Development Committee Charter. The Charter will focus on expectations of board members, committee responsibilities, meeting frequencies, membership and objectives. A full report and recommendation are expected by December.
Ms. Sybesma also reminded everyone present of the Foundation’s upcoming Housewarming event on December 7 from 4 to 6 p.m. and that sponsorship opportunities would be announced shortly.
Update regarding Board’s adoption of fictitious name
In connection with a report from the Overall Review Committee, the board voted in favor of a motion to modify its previous adoption of the fictitious name FFLA. Judge Scales moved to amend the previously adopted motion from the June 22, 2023, board meeting that approved the Foundation’s fictitious name “FFLA” subject to the approval of the Court and the Bar. Judge Scales’ amendment to the previously adopted motion eliminated “subject to the approval of the Court and the Bar.” After discussion, the motion passed unanimously.
In addition, the board ratified the Executive Committee’s previous decision to amend the Foundation’s Articles of Incorporation for three reasons:
1) Add the Foundation’s fictitious name;
2) Update the Foundation’s current address; and
3) Change the Foundation’s Registered Agent.
The board further authorized staff to proceed with the formal process of petitioning the Court for approval of such amendments.
The board’s next scheduled meeting will be on December 7-8, 2023, in Winter Park, Florida at Valencia College Winter Park Campus.
1 FY 22-23 IOTA collections were $45,547,390.93. 85% of that amount = $38,715,282. Adding $355,847 of realized investment income to this amount results in a total of 39,071,121. Finally, adding $1,000,000 results in a total allocation of $40,071,130.
2 For instance, the board subsequently decided not to use IOTA collections to fund $218,000 for Law School Civil Legal Clinics at this time. Instead, the Foundation will use its pre-2021 reserves to fund those grants pending possible reconsideration at a future date. Thus, this amount will be added to the December 2023 IOTA distribution pool.
3 The amount funded and approved by the board during the Grants Committee portion of the meeting was $3,789,793.