Crime, Legal Related

KENTUCKY EQUAL JUSTICE CENTER

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Lexington, KY

Mission

The mission of Kentucky Equal Justice Center is to promote equal justice for all residents of the Commonwealth by serving as an advocate for low income and other vulnerable members of society. 

Ruling Year

1977

Principal Officer

Mr. Richard J. Seckel

Main Address

201 W Short St Ste 310

Lexington, KY 40507 USA

Formerly Known As

Office of Kentucky Legal Services Programs, Inc.

Keywords

Kentucky Equal Justice Maxwell immigration legal

EIN

61-0909545

 Number

5276007109

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Legal Services (I80)

Ethnic/Immigrant Services (P84)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (R01)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Maxwell Street Legal Clinic

Health Law Team

Workers' Rights

Poverty Law Task Forces

Monitoring and Advocacy

Where we work

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

As director Rich Seckel told Consumer Reports, "At our best, and in some of our favorite work, we are creating opportunity." Kentucky Equal Justice Center is a watchdog and advocate for low income Kentuckians.   Our mission is to promote equal access to justice for all residents of the Commonwealth. 

Our founders sought to foster an effective statewide justice community.   To that end, we:

Foster partnerships among legal services programs and community partnersAct as vigorous and constructive advocates in the courts and policy making arenas

Fill the gaps in existing legal services

These longstanding roles come to life today in vibrant and responsive initiatives: Consumer Law:  We seek to protect the assets, earnings and homes of low income Kentuckians from unfair financial practices.



 Health Care:  We work to create access to quality, affordable care and to make public programs consumer-friendly.



 Immigration Law:  We are the administrative home of the primary nonprofit immigration law center in the Bluegrass Region, helping sustain Maxwell Street Clinic and build its staff and infrastructure.



 Workers’ Rights:   We educate low-wage and non-traditional workers about basic work place rights and remedies available if they go unpaid or underpaid in violation of the law.



 We also build capacity beyond our own doors. Director Rich Seckel was a founding board member of Kentucky Voices for Health. Senior Staff Attorney Anne Marie Regan has helped guide the Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending.
 


If the track record ahead is as strong as the one up to now, our work in the next five years could lead to:



New protections against the “debt trap” of payday loans New tools to help neighborhoods and cities redevelop vacant housing Health coverage for nearly all Kentuckians, with strong consumer protections
An ever more robust immigration law program at Maxwell Street



Family-friendly work place policies, fair treatment of low wage workers and an end to abusive practices



Our supportive board, energetic staff and dedicated volunteers are ready for the challenges.

Hallmarks of our work include creativity and responsiveness.   That means each initiative under the Kentucky Equal Justice “umbrella” may be unique in its approach.  But common elements include:

Recruiting, launching and supporting talented legal advocates with well-defined projects Building community partnerships necessary for successful advocacy


Tapping national sources of expertise as needed


Speaking clearly and knowledgeably to decision makers, the public and the media
Being a trusted source of help and information



Our rapid growth over the last several years means we must also address sustainability and infrastructure by developing:



An ever more diverse and robust funding base


Enhanced use of a variety of communications tools


"Next level" use of technology like our online legal case management software


New systems for back office support for our advocates



·       Enhanced staffing for administrative functions



We envision tackling all these things in a process of continuous improvement.  Near term projects and activities include:


Upgrades of tech systems at Maxwell Street Legal Clinic and "next level" use our legal case management software


A redesign of our website and movement to a more modern platform
Launch of a new internal team focused on development,  communications strategies and use of social media



In the advocacy realm, initiatives include:



Work in coalition with faith-based groups to address predatory lending
“Boots on the Ground” outreach through local legal services Health Advocacy Teams under a special grant initiative



A robust “211 for immigrants” intake system at Maxwell Street Legal Clinic

They say "the wheels of justice turn slowly."  Perhaps fittingly, we are more tortoise than hare.   We just don’t give up. With modest infrastructure and a small staff we’ve gotten enough done over the years to receive the Consumer Reports Excellence in Consumer Advocacy award. We are now as big as we ever were, even during early years of federal funding, long gone. We have four talented attorneys with varied expertise and a paralegal certified to handle immigration cases. We've launched new part-time staff focused on Health Outreach and social media communications.  We make creative use of AmeriCorps resources, benefit from the dedication of volunteers and have built many constructive partnerships.

Internal resources include:

 Respected advocacy staff:   From Senior Staff Attorney Anne Marie Regan to our newest project attorney and AmeriCorps member, KEJC attracts extraordinary talent. We believe both the mission and the track record attract able advocates.   In turn, they practice their advocacy diligently, knowledgeably and with distinction.

 An ability to launch projects:  During our recent period of growth we found we had the capacity to launch projects and people successfully—in part through a strong and conscious element of “meet and greet” with community partners.
 A diverse and creative board:   Our board members from legal services programs keep up us in touch with our roots.  New community members on the board bring diverse perspectives and ideas. The board’s engagement in strategic planning recently saw us through the most rapid and creative period of growth since our founding in 1976.

 External resources include: 
Partnerships and coalitions:   From health care to payday lending and now to workers’ rights, we have helped build coalitions big and small and have backed them up with the best possible legal and policy expertise.  Trust:  Perhaps part of our success is that we give credit as often as than we take it.   We are a trusted ally to many partners, across sectors from faith-based to labor.

 Constructive relations with officials:   While we don’t “pull our punches” on advocacy—we take positions that are well-founded in law and policy—KEJC advocates are respected for the thoughtful diligence of our advocacy.   We have built constructive relationships with officials, especially around health care and public benefits.

 Credibility:   Our approach to media is to earn it. Over the years we have become a trusted source on issues that affect real people and that touch on basic human values of fairness and opportunity—the public interest instead of special interests. We can speak clearly to policy choices and, very often, link reporters with real people.  The main challenge now is to build an administrative infrastructure commensurate with our new size. (In the video produced by Consumer Reports, our Health Law Fellow says, “Rich is our infrastructure.")    We would love to invest “capacity building” resources in ways that will sustain us beyond our 40th year in 2016. 

Each of our initiatives has deliverables and objectives. Most have a policy dimension. For policy impact, the measure is the creation of language in public discourse—and, ultimately, adoption of new language in statutes and rules. Ideally, policy change is followed by observation and data on real life consequences.  Along the way, we can often count deliverables like numbers of presentations and cases.   



Project by project



 Consumer advocacy:   Here the focus is the rules of the game.   How much interest can a lender charge?   What sorts of notices should consumers get?  Occasionally, we can assess the impact of practices. New data, for example, show that the average payday borrower takes out more than 9 loans a year, a true debt trap.   Policy wise, we want the rules changed—new language.  Impact wise, we want that number and the attendant cost lower.



 Health care access:   Policy advocacy took on a novel twist when we won changes not on paper but online, in the kynect system itself, with the redesign of key options on shopping screens.   In outreach and enrollment, our deliverables are easy to count:   presentations, attendees, enrollees.  Looking ahead, we want to protect new coverage and make it work for newly insured people.    Immigration law:  Maxwell Street Legal Clinic is our primary project offering individual legal services. The Clinic serves over 500 people each year.  Our legal case management system enables us to track case openings, closings, types and outcomes.  Our goals are to optimize the services we can provide with modest resources and to maintain a high percentage of successful case outcomes. We use caseload data from our legal case management system to manage case acceptance—for citizenship, “deferred action” for youth, help for immigrant victims of crime and more.



 Workers rights:   The policy measure is new language, including decisions in the courts. We are working to test remedies like the “wage theft” provision in Kentucky’s new human trafficking law and a little used employee lien statute.   Meanwhile, our efforts to educate and help wrongly unpaid workers have clear outcome measures:   we keep track of presentations made, attendees and, for our cases, wages recovered.  (From a recent grant report: we made community education presentations to 883 community members in a year, and distributed $2,104 in back wages, bringing our project total of recovered wages to $98,771.)


 We also gather poverty law practitioners and community partners for a number of topical task force meetings each year.  A rough measure of the vibrancy of the meetings is the attendance, including geographical spread and the mix of people in the room.

They say that “eternal vigilance is the cost of liberty.”  During the General Assembly, we are vividly reminded of the importance of our watchdog role. It is unlikely we will work ourselves out of a job.In that sense, the work is never done. The challenge is to fulfill our role as advocates with competence, creativity and care.

 We have a worthy track record. We see progress on policies. We see changes for people. Our capacity is growing.

 This section recaps some of the track record and some of the progress. It points to the fence on a few unresolved issues. And it envisions the growing, vibrant Kentucky Equal Justice Center of the future.

 The track record contains elements of both protection and empowerment. We have helped defeat proposals to double the cap on payday loans. We successfully challenged denials of long term care for several thousand Kentuckians. We helped write and pass Kentucky laws making human trafficking a crime.

 Turning to empowerment, we helped win new policies that let low income parents chose post-secondary education as their required “welfare to work” activity. Through Maxwell Street Legal Clinic, we have helped over 6,500 new neighbors take steps toward the American Dream.

The work continues with new initiatives around access to health care and workers’ rights.

 Along the way, we have grown. We have also helped create capacity outside our own doors. We have helped launch the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, Kentucky Voices for Health and the Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending—plus a new network of community partners concerned about low wage and non-traditional workers.

 Together with our partners, we may yet see stronger laws enacted on payday loans. We will keep working to ensure that Kentuckians have access to high quality, affordable health care—and are empowered to use it. We want to see hard work earn a living wage.

 For ourselves, we envision a strong infrastructure to sustain our progress, support our work and foster a culture of creative advocacy. That will likely mean a greater division of labor and new staffing for functions other than our advocacy: communications, development, technology, human resources and bookkeeping.

 We have grown from two advocates in 2002 to become a vibrant, multi-project advocacy center. Today, four attorneys and five other staff work on issues from immigration to consumer law to health care and workers’ rights.

 At Maxwell Street, our CLINIC Immigration Fellow helps deliver high quality help to new neighbors. Our AmeriCorps and VISTA members and newly full-time Outreach Coordinator help assure that community members know about help available to workers and families.

 It’s an overnight success years in the making. We have a winner here. We want to make investments that give it a solid foundation for the future.

External Reviews

Awards

Affiliations & Memberships

Kentucky Nonprofit Network 2019

United Way Member Agency 2019

Photos

Financials

KENTUCKY EQUAL JUSTICE CENTER

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2017, 2016 and 2015
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

See what's included

Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Not Applicable

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Not Applicable

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable