Hey everyone, I know it's been a little while since you've heard from us directly on the blog. First, thank you for following us on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. We re-post a lot of great content there from sources that we follow all around the internet relevant to our mission. Secondly, I thought I'd take this opportunity to ansswer some frequently asked questions and update everyone on the state of the non-profit!
How is the company shaping up?
Pretty good so far! We've managed to file our articles of incorporation, so we're officially a non-profit corporation. We also recently added a board member, an attorney local to the Bloomington area with 10+ years of experience both in the areas of law we cover, and in supervising interns and students. She's going to bring a wealth of expertise to the company and help with guidance and ethics issues moving forward. Look forward to a new post from her soon to officially introduce herself. We're still trying to raise enough money to file our 1023EZ application which will give us official status with the IRS and make your donations tax-deductible, as well as give us access to a lot of non-profit specific resources.
What's been done to prepare for opening?
We're slowly starting communications with local partners like Middle Way House, Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, and Indiana University to gather resources we'll be able to point clients to, as well as share in training exercises for our staff and have strong sources of referrals going in and out. We're also in the middle of the process of getting certified to take student interns from the law school and from Indiana University in general, both for credit and as part of the work-study program. In addition, we've been hard at work drafting legal document templates, intake forms, volunteer manuals, and basic "how-to" legal training to make available to those we help.
When are you opening?
We're really hoping against hope that we'll be able to open in mid to late spring, somewhere between February and April. We've got a big fundraiser concert/gala in late January or early February that we're still making arrangements for in terms of booking bands, getting prizes, and nailing down a specific date with the venue. Hopefully if we're able to raise enough money over the holidays and through that event, we'd like to begin operating as early as next year, potentially with a staff attorney, potentially relying strictly on volunteers.
What happened to Georgia?
Still going to happen! After discussing with a lot of local professionals, staff at the law school, and deliberating on it as a board, we decided to start small and agile and "test" the concept here in Bloomington. We felt that incorporating and getting our non-profit status as well as building some experience under our belt and good local partnerships, it would make it easier to raise funds and see if our model is viable. We're still planning on opening a branch in Georgia eventually, and looking forward to that sunny climate, especially in winter! Ideally, if everything works out, over the next year or two we'll build a small solid office in Bloomington that can keep running alongside the Georgia office, expanding access to justice even further.
What can I do to help?
Make sure to follow and share us on all your social media, helping to build an audience for the educational materials that we're preparing to release and so that you can be the first to hear about new opportunities and events as we start planning some pretty sweet local shindigs. Please consider making an end of year donation to our current fundraiser. Now that we've incorporated, if we are awarded 501(c)(3) status by the IRS your donations will retroactively be tax-deductible! And if you know any writers interested in talking about police/community issues, legal issues, or women's issues, point them our way, we'd love to give them a chance to publish!
Otherwise, stay tuned, and stay safe out there.