KENTUCKY EQUAL JUSTICE CENTER
201 W Short St Ste 310
Lexington KY 40507-1220
Contact Information
Nonprofit KENTUCKY EQUAL JUSTICE CENTER
Address 201 W Short St Ste 310
Lexington, KY 40507 1220
Phone (859) 233-3057
Fax 859 233-0007
Contact Name Richard Seckel
Web and Social Media
Staff and volunteers celebrate new citizens at our Around the World reception for Maxwell Street Legal Clinic.
At A Glance
IRS Ruling Year 1977
Former Names
Office of Kentucky Legal Services Programs, Inc.
Other ways to donate, support, or volunteer
To donate by mail, please send contributions to:
 
Kentucky Equal Justice Center
201 W. Short Street, Suite 310
Lexington, KY  40507
 
Feel free to designate your contribution to Maxwell Street Legal Clinic, Poverty Law Advocacy or wherever needed.  Thanks!
 
Financial Summary
 
 
Statements
Mission Statement
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. 
Background Statement
Kentucky Equal Justice Center’s roots are in the civil legal services community, but our future is to serve a broad community of Kentuckians.  We were formed 40 years ago to work with all the civil legal services programs in Kentucky on things best done cooperatively, from staff training to advocacy in Frankfort. 

Those roots matter. They mean we serve as a watchdog and advocate for a wide range of low income Kentuckians—from children to elders in long term care—and keep in touch with a network of poverty law offices where people bring real life problems. 
 
We also staff inter-program task forces of attorneys, paralegals and community partners in key areas of poverty law:  consumer, family, housing, health care (and public benefits) and workers' rights.

In 2006, Congress cut off all federal funding for legal services “state support” offices like ours. At first a crisis, change became opportunity.  Freed from the multiple restrictions on poverty law practice that Congress imposed, we could advocate as any non-profit could, in Frankfort and in the courts. 
 
Our new role in the legal services and wider community: a center for “impact advocacy” for low income people. 

While fighting the good fight—and often winning public interest battles—Kentucky Equal Justice Center also gradually transformed itself, building its Board to include new and diverse community members and its staff to include a litigation specialist and new attorneys and paralegals focusing on health care, immigration law, citizenship assistance and workers rights. 
 
Today, we are a creative, knowledgeable and responsive public interest advocacy nonprofit, sticking up for low income people and working with a multitude of community partners. 
 
Our track record is strong:  from the lawsuit that successfully challenged nursing home cutoffs in 2003, to legislative successes on human trafficking and mortgage lending, to innovative litigation to collect wages due workers, to ever growing partnerships with public interest allies. 
Impact Statement

In January 2014, Consumer Reports recognized us with its Excellence in Consumer Advocacy Award at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The award is given once every several years to a single small nonprofit nationwide. 

Continuing the good work, in the last year we:

1. Helped promote Kentucky’s successful implementation of health reform with an innovative "Boots on the Ground" outreach campaign through Kentucky’s legal services offices that:

· offered clear, down-to-earth information about coverage

· reached 8,486 people face-to-face through events across the state

· resulted in successful suggestions to improve new online benefits system “benefind”

2. Helped victims of human trafficking through innovative teamwork between our Employment Law and Immigration Attorneys, including help to file applications for T visas and to recover wrongly unpaid wages.

3. Helped over 150 “Dreamer” youth qualify for temporary protection from deportation—and for authorization to work—through our immigration law project at Maxwell Street Legal Clinic.

We also earned our Consumer Reports award all over again: In our watchdog role in the General Assembly, in 2017 we successfully raised concerns about a bill that would have allowed “non-judicial” mortgage foreclosure. The bill was defeated.

In the coming year, we plan to:

1. Help at least 500 people and their families navigate the complex process of legal immigration, including the wonderful step of becoming U.S. citizens, through Maxwell Street Legal Clinic.

2. Work with the Kentucky Coalition for Responsible Lending and faith-based partners to win new protections from the "debt trap" of payday loans.

3. Continue our innovative advocacy to protect health reform and make it work for working families and vulnerable Kentuckians in a changing health care landscape.

4. Complete the first successful test case of the new "wage theft" protection in Kentucky’s 2013 human trafficking law—a provision we helped to write—to recover wages for victims of labor trafficking.

And more!



Needs Statement

Kentucky Equal Justice Center has grown.  Now we are focused on sustaining our efforts. 

 New CLINIC Fellow:  Maxwell Street Legal Clinic is one of twelve programs across the South awarded a new Fellowship for immigration law by Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC).  Salary is partially covered by the Fellowship program, but donors can help pay fringe and operating cost.  Help launch and sustain a public interest career!

Citizenship help at Maxwell Street Legal Clinic: 
The Citizenship Project helps legal immigrants get ready for the citizenship exam and assemble their application.  Each case costs about $200 and makes a profound difference in someone’s life. You can sponsor a case.

Website upgrade:  The KEJC website is a homespun wikispace. It works well for meeting announcements and materials but lacks modern design features. Cost of a redesign:  $5,000 to $13,000.

Language line:  KEJC and Maxwell Street serve new Kentuckians from all over the world. Our staff is bilingual in Spanish. We use telephone interpretation for other languages, from Nepali to French to Swahili. The monthly "language line" bill: about $150.   

Phone system upgrade:  Maxwell Street Legal Clinic receives and makes over 500 calls per month.  Soon, we hope to upgrade our phone system to better handle this "211 for immigrants" function.  Cost:  $1,500 to $3,000.

CEO/Executive Director Statement
I've had the privilege of working for 38 years with community members and colleagues who care about low-income Kentuckians.  I've learned a lot from my mentors and friends, not least of which is to be patient, constructive and persistent—and to speak clearly about policy choices.
 
The values that underlie our work keep me going.  They aren't complicated:  a fair deal, education, opportunity and equal access to justice. 
 
Some of the my proudest accomplishments relate to those values:  policies that support low income parents seeking higher education; our work to help people navigate the complex immigration system all the way to citizenship; and, occasionally, blowing the whistle on special interests.
 
As a public interest watchdog, Kentucky Equal Justice Center works to correct imbalances of power.  We've helped pass laws on human trafficking and domestic violence. 
 
I consider myself lucky to come to this kind of work each day.
Service Categories
Secondary Organization Category Human Services / Ethnic/Immigrant Services
Tertiary Organization Category Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy / Alliances & Advocacy
Geographic Areas Served
Areas
Kentucky
Our advocacy efforts are often focused on statewide polices made in Frankfort. From payday loans to health reform, we seek to ensure that laws and programs promote opportunity, protect low income families and ensure fairness. 
 
Our unique immigration law and citizenship services at Maxwell Street Legal Clinic serve new Kentuckians and their families who live an area radiating out from Lexington around the state—particularly to east and south central Kentucky.
Impact Questions
GoalsHelpWhat is the organization aiming to accomplish? This is the organization's ultimate goal for intended impact.
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 partners
  • Act 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.

StrategiesHelpWhat are the organization's strategies for its stated long-term goals?
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
CapabilitiesHelpWhat are the organization’s capabilities for doing this? What resources, capacities, and connections support its progress towards long-term goals?
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. 
IndicatorsHelpHow will the organization know if it is making progress? What are the key qualitative and quantitative indicators against which the organization assesses its progress toward its intended impact?
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.
ProgressHelpWhat has and hasn’t been accomplished so far?
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.
Board Chair
Board Chair Prof. Christopher W. Frost
Company Affiliation UK College of Law
Term Apr 2016 to July 2017
Board Members
NameAffiliationStatus
Mr. Robert J. Brown Wyatt, Tarrant and CombsVoting
Ms. Brenda Combs Legal Aid of the BluegrassVoting
Mr. Joshua Crabtree Legal Aid of the BluegrassVoting
Prof. Christopher W. Frost UK College of LawVoting
Mr. Robert Johns Appalachian Research and Defense FundVoting
Ms. Rosa Martin RetiredVoting
Ms. Sandra Martinez StudentVoting
Ms. Mary O'Doherty Kentucky Domestic Violence AssociationVoting
Ms. Neva-Marie Polley Louisville Legal Aid SocietyVoting
Mr. John M. Rosenberg RetiredVoting
Ms. Dianet Valencia Community VolunteerVoting
Ms. Amanda Young Kentucky Legal AidVoting
Ms. Angela Zeek Legal Aid of the BluegrassVoting
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 10
Hispanic/Latino 3
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 3 members are immigrants
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 6
Female 7
Unspecified 0
Governance
Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 69%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 83%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 67%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Standing Committees
Audit
Nominating
Investment
Comments
CEO Comments
Our board began with our founders: the directors, staff and clients of Kentucky's civil legal services programs.  As we grew, we saw the need to include community partners. 
 
Today, new and diverse community members serve us in many ways, from acting as Treasurer to helping us with grant diplomacy to finding resources in the private bar to help with our cases.
 
For the first time, our Chair is not a director of a legal services program.  It's a change that shows a high level of trust among our members. 
 
CEO/Executive Director
Executive Director Mr. Richard J. Seckel
Term Start Jan 1996
Email richseckel@kyequaljustice.org
Experience
Rich Seckel joined us in 1979 and became director in 1996.  Rich earned a BA from Oberlin College and an MSW from West Virginia University.  He was trained in community organizing as a volunteer with the United Farm Workers, AFL-CIO, in Cleveland, OH.
 
Rich has tackled many tasks.  Athough not a lawyer, he learned about legal cases by summarizing almost two hundred of them for our newsletter.  He served as staff for our statewide task forces in health and welfare, family, consumer and housing law and as an advocate on related issues in Frankfort.
 
Rich’s policy successes include protection of child care benefits for low income parents in post-secondary education; helping make human trafficking a crime in Kentucky; and defeat of a proposal to double the ceiling on payday loans from $500 to $1000.
 
Rich was one of four lead consumer advocates who called on the Attorney General to challenge the “conversion” of Kentucky Blue Cross.  A mediated settlement led to formation of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.  He also wrote the proposal that brought Maxwell Street Legal Clinic its first full time immigration law attorney.
Staff
Full Time Staff 6
Part Time Staff 3
Volunteers 15
Contractors 0
Retention Rate 80%
Management Reports to Board? Yes
Staff Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 7
Hispanic/Latino 2
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Staff Demographics - Gender
Male 1
Female 8
Unspecified 0
Former CEOs
NameTerm
John Paul Kemp Sept -
Anthony G. Martin - Dec 1995
Senior Staff
Title Senior Staff Attorney
Experience/Biography

Senior Staff Attorney Anne Marie Regan is an experienced litigator.  She worked as a staff attorney for the Louisville Legal Aid Society for twenty years and as staff attorney to a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge for a year before joining KEJC in 2002. She has handled a variety of complex cases, including a successful federal class action that challenged Kentucky Medicaid long term care cutoffs.  A recognized expert in consumer law, Ms. Regan often has testified on consumer loan proposals in the General Assembly. Ms. Regan graduated from Case Western
Reserve University and received her law degree from Catholic University in Washington, DC.


Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency N/A
NonManagement Formal Evaluation Yes
Non Management Formal Evaluation Frequency N/A
Comments
CEO Comments
For its first twenty years, KEJC received federal funding.  Along with the dollars came a comprehensive set of policies prescribed by the national Legal Services Corporation--and related good practices. 
 
Today, we operate as a regular nonprofit, without federal funds.  We have maintained the good practices and are gradually replacing the old prescribed policies with new ones adopted by our Board.
Description
Maxwell Street Legal Clinic helps low-income immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members navigate process of legal immigration—including the inspiring step of becoming a U.S. citizen.

The Clinic grew from conversations among local clergy, who challenged the legal community to respond to unmet legal needs of new immigrant neighbors. 

In October 1999, with support from a local church, Maxwell Street Legal Clinic opened its doors.  It soon became a trusted community resource.  Today, a small professional staff and dedicated volunteers help:
 
  • Refugees admitted by the U.S. who seek permanent residence
  • Immigrant victims of crime, domestic violence and human trafficking
  • Immigrant juveniles including childhood arrivals eligible for new "deferred action" status and youths in the child protection system

 

Maxwell Street also operates a vibrant Citizenship Project.  About 80 "graduates" each year take the oath to become U.S. citizens—a key step toward the American Dream.

 

Budget $216,313
Category Crime & Legal, General/Other Legal Services
Population Served Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees, International, Minorities
Program Short Term Success
In the coming year, the staff and volunteers of Maxwell Street Legal Clinic will help:
  • 400 to 500 individuals and families take a "next step" in the process of legal immigration
  • 80 to 100 people prepare for and pass their citizenship exam
  • 80 to 100 youths brought here undocumented as children apply for new Deferred Action status so they can remain here and go to school or work
We will also help dispel myths and promote understand of immigration law by offering community education sessions, including explanation of the new U.S. policies for immigrant youth.
 
Program Long term Success
Maxwell Street Legal Clinic affirms the American Dream by helping people proceed through the steps of the legal process of immigration. 
 
At the community level, success looks like this:  over the years, thousands of new arrivals will receive both welcome and help with the complex steps set out in immigration law.  And, ultimately, new citizens will become valued and productive members of the Bluegrass community. 
 
For families and individuals themselves, legal status brings the ability to work, study and achieve.  And, for those who left their homelands because of violence and threat, it brings a life without fear.
 
Finally, by engaging volunteers and dispelling myths about immigration, Maxwell Street Legal Clinic will promote understanding, giving community members a stake in the success of their new neighbors.
Program Success Monitored By
Maxwell Street Legal Clinic has implemented a state of the art online legal case management system called Legal Files.  The program enables us to track each case, each step of the way, from intake to case actions to outcomes. 
 
At any point in time, we can detemine how many people we are serving by type of case, like refugee adjustment of status or citizenship.  More important, we can retrieve outcomes like "citizenship test passed" or, for refugees, "lawful permanent residence granted."
 
Finally, we can produced aggregate demographic information of interest:  Where did our clients come from?  What lanuages do they speak?  (We already know that Maxwell Street has served people from close to 100 countries all over the world--who now live in over 60 Kentucky counties.)
Examples of Program Success
In the last year, Maxwell Street Legal Clinic provided "next steps" immigration law services in over 400 cases, helped over 50 people achieve U.S. citizenship and over 100 "Dreamer" youth apply for Deferred Action status and authorization to work.
 
Meanwhile, staff and volunteers have become expert resources for others.  Our immigration law attorney has helped train U.S. Department of Labor staff and local police agencies.  The topic:  U visas, a form of temporary legal status afforded victims of serious crimes who cooperate with law enforcement in investigations.
Description
Our Health Care Team acts as a watchdog and advocate for low income and working families. We keep a special eye on public benefit programs to make sure people don't get lost in a bureaucratic maze--and that they know their rights to appeal adverse decisions.
 
We've been leading advocates for Kentucky's successful roll out of the Affordable Care Act.
 
We address issues on a wide spectrum of care, across all ages, from KCHIP for kids to long term care choices for seniors and people with disabilities to new coverage under the Affordable Care Act for working families.
 
Our health advocacy team is anchored by our Health Law Fellow under matching grants from Interact for Health in Cincinnati and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, with support from our Senior Staff Attorney and Director.
 
Though we focus on policy change, like proper implementation of the Affordable Care Act, we also provide individual legal representation on cases that might test or expand rights and remedies--or simply help people achieve coverage or handle medical bills.
 
In 2014, we launched a Health Outreach Coordinator, with a mission to enroll children and a focus on Latino and immigrant communities.  We also have built a "Boots on the Ground" outreach partnership with Kentucky's legal services programs.
 
Budget $180,000
Category Crime & Legal, General/Other Legal Services
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years), Elderly and/or Disabled, Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees
Program Short Term Success
In the year ahead, we will work to make sure that health reform creates access to affordable, high quality care.  To achieve this, we will work in multiple forums:
  • commenting on plans and regulations to implement new laws
  • representing individuals denied service or coverage, in fair hearings or in court
  • researching and, if need be, filing litigation on issues like child mental health
  • providing enrollment services as Certified Application Counselors, with a special emphasis on enrolling children in Latino and immigrant communities
Equally important: health coverage should be "user friendly," whether it be Medicaid managed care or new coverage under the Affordable Act Act.   We often comment on state notices and forms.  If we make just one more readable, it can help thousands of people, even as many as half a million in Medicaid.

Potential outcome:  thousands of Kentuckians gain new health coverage, including at least 120 that we have enrolled, and hundreds more that have received accurate information from us.
 
Program Long term Success Success looks like this:  equal access to high quality, accessible and affordable care--including manageable ways to enroll in coverage.  And a healthier Kentucky. 
Program Success Monitored By
We see concrete evidence of policy change when state and federal agencies consider our comments and make changes in rules. The evidence of change is right there on paper: a revised regulation, form, policy or law.  
When policies change, we can use state data on program participation to see how many people might be affected.
With community partners, we also keep tabs on data about health care. Example: we helped launched research by Kentucky Voices for Health that showed county by county the number of people who would be newly eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Now, the kynect program itself is providing regular updates on enrollment data, including breakdowns by county, age and demography.
 
Successes in court often produce tangible outcomes: in our successful challenge to nursing home "cutoffs," we received state data that showed all cutoffs were reviewed under new standards and 97 percent of people restored to care.
 
Finally, our legal case management system enables us to track outcomes for people we serve, including health coverage achieved or bills either forgiven or brought into affordable payment plans.
 
Examples of Program Success

In the last year, we:

  • Brought advocacy and community groups together with Kentucky's Medicaid Commissioner to discuss Medicaid expansion and helped generate over 50 organizational letters in support in a two week period.
  • Worked with staff of Kentucky's new Health Benefit Exchange to allow real life consumers to view, test and comment on proposed screens for online shopping for coverage.
  • Contacted legislators to draw attention to delays in public benefits hearing decisions and won agreement from the state agency to overhaul the process and eliminate the backlog.
  • In one case alone, won forgiveness of over $100,000 in medical bills for a patient with cancer who should have been screened for indigent care coverage.

In an important earlier success, Senior Staff Attorney Anne Marie Regan successfully challenged denial or termination of long term care to about 400 nursing home residents and almost 3000 receiving care in their homes and communities.

Description
The story begins with workers themselves.  When our partnership with Maxwell Street Legal Clinic began, they came to our doors—and opened our eyes. 
 
Families seeking help with immigration law often brought up workplace problems:  unpaid wages, refusal of workers comp, denial of prevailing wage. 
 
We responded, meeting with state officials, filing wage claims, helping write and pass a state human trafficking law, getting health care for injured immigrant workers through workers comp. 

Today, our Employment Law Attorney helps low-income Kentucky workers get fair treatment under wage and hour laws through selected cases, policy advocacy, community education and a monthly self-help wage claim clinic.
 
The project was launched with support from Public Welfare Foundation. We also have won approval for our AmeriCorps members to focus on financial literacy, including community education in English and Spanish on workers' rights.

 

Budget $89,000
Category Crime & Legal, General/Other Legal Services
Population Served Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees, Migrant Workers, Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short Term Success
Our Employment Law Attorney works in four areas:  community education, policy advocacy, litigation and networking.  Success in the coming year looks like this:
 
Community education:  Together with our AmeriCorps VISTA member, our attorney will address at least 200 people on basic work place rights, with emphasis on immigrant and minority workers and self-help for wage claims.
 
Policy advocacy: Kentucky agencies cooperate with each other in enforcement of rules on "misclassification" of workers as independent contractors and workers and their advocates will pursue newly enacted remedies for "wage theft" accomplished by forced labor.
 
Litigation: We will successfully test legal remedies like Kentucky's unique employee lien statute, which protects workers owed wages when businesses face financial difficulty.

Networking:  Three to four times a year, our new Workers' Rights Task Force wlll bring together community partners who care about workplace issues, including faith-based, labor and neighborhood groups.
Program Long term Success
Long term success looks like this:  employers treat people fairly according to law and workers themselves know their rights and can exercise them without fear. 
 
To get there, we help with wage claims and offer a vigorous program of community outreach and education.  We also seek policy change, including:
  • Better enforcement to prevent "misclassification" of workers as independent contractors, so that they don't lose work place benefits and protections
  • New policies that afford immigrant workers protection when they complain about unfair treatment, including use of special visas for workers who assist in investigating crimes like human trafficking
  • Stronger protections against "wage theft," including extra penalties for nonpayment accompanied by forced labor or coercion--the key elements of human trafficking.
Kentucky Equal Justice Center helped write and pass Kentucky's 2007 law making human trafficking a crime and the 2013 "next steps" bill, which included a strong provision on wage theft.  We know that policy change is not just "pie in the sky."
Program Success Monitored By
Measurement of success in employment law combines down-to-earth countable results with evidence of policy change:
 
Wages collected:  Our legal case management system enables us to track the results of cases, including a useful measure:  how much did we collect in unpaid wages due?  
 
Community education:  We use a spreadsheet to keep track.  Our AmeriCorps member records locations, the number of attendees, and the languages spoken for each presentation. 
 
Networks fostered:  Attendance at our Workers' Rights Task Force is one key measure.  How many people came, from what sectors?  As well, we see signs that people now are working together.  We can count new "constellations" of advocates among our achievments.
 
Policy change:  Here, we look to paper:  language in a bill; court holdings that set precedent; new protocols for state agency conduct; and more.  
Examples of Program Success

We have worthy results:

Since the start of the project, we collected over $98,000 in wages due.  As well, we filed innovative litigation to test Kentucky's little used "employee lien" statute.

In a recent 12 month period, we made presentations to a total of 883 workers in 13 Kentucky cities, in both English and Spanish.
Our language on "wage theft" was included in Kentucky's 2013 bill on human trafficking.  It calls for repayment three times over where wages were improperly unpaid and a judge found that "forced or coerced labor" occurred.
Description
Our statewide poverty law task force meetings provide information and collegial support for legal services practitioners and community partners. They help members stay abreast of new laws and cases. They help identify emerging issues.
 
We provide staff support for task force meetings in multiple areas of law— consumer (and housing), family law, health (and public benefits) and workers' rights—and information about immigration law as needed in each.  We expect over 200 attendees a year.
 
Task Force meetings bring together staff from the four federally-funded civil legal services programs in Kentucky:
 
  • Appalred (Eastern Kentucky)
  • Kentucky Legal Aid  (Western Kentucky)
  • Legal Aid of the Bluegrass (Lexington and Northeast Kentucky)
  • Legal Aid Society (Louisville and nearby counties)

One of our founders has said our task forces provide the "glue" for civil legal aid, promoting good legal work, staff morale and linkages with other community partners who serve low income people. 
 
Budget $12,000
Category Crime & Legal, General/Other Legal Services
Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent, Families, Elderly and/or Disabled
Program Short Term Success
Short term success looks like this.  We will:
  • hold 2-4 meetings in each of 4 areas of law
  • reach over 200 attendees
  • bring together legal services staff from multiple programs statewide
  • cultivate new leaders by recruiting task force chairs and co-chairs
  • link legal services staff with key community partners
  • provide up-to-date information on law and practice
  • spot emerging issues
 
Program Long term Success
Our task forces are one of our longest standing services.  They promote collegial interaction among legal services staff statewide and provide contact with community partners who serve low income people. 
 
Task force meetings promote high quality legal representation through sharing of information and staff morale through personal contact.  Just as important, they allow us to spot emerging problems affecting low income people and to consider solutions.
 
Success is measured in part by participation.  We host 2-4 task meetings each area of poverty law listed above.  Total attendance generally exceeds 200 participants per year.
 
Success is also measure by results.  Task forces help heighten the impact of the public interest legal community.  They often spin off advocacy teams to work on special issues.  Example:  one team worked with state officials to make dozens of public benefits notices more readable.
 
Program Success Monitored By
Participation counts.  We keep sign in sheets for each poverty law task force meeting, showing who attended.  Success can be measured by:
  • the number of legal services staff participants from programs around the state
  • the number of participants from community partners in each group
Perhaps less tangible, but equally important, is impact.  Here the questions are:
  • whether we identified emerging issues during the year
  • whether meetings promoted new partnerships and strategies to address them
 
Examples of Program Success
Over the years, our Task Forces have offered a forum for collegial support for hundreds of staff of civil legal services programs in Kentucky.
 
They have identified emerging issues like long term care cutoffs, payday loan costs, bankruptcy due to medical bills, property tax lien foreclosures and even bed bugs in housing. 
 
Advocacy teams have sprung up to identify legal strategies and remedies in multiple forums, from the courts to the General Assembly.  Noteworthy particulars:
 
When Kentucky began terminating long term care coverage to seniors and people with disabilities in 2003, our Welfare and Health Task Force became a key forum for advocates to consider individual cases and devise broader responses  Ultimately, we filed suit to challenge the cutoffs--and won.
 
Our Consumer Law task force has been a vibrant forum for sharing strategies on foreclosure--including special remedies under the law for high cost home loans offered in the subprime market. 
Description
Kentucky Equal Justice Center acts as a public interest watchdog.  We provide information on proposed and enacted laws and regulations that affect low income people—through our website, task forces and email list serve. 
 
We advocate in Frankfort on selected issues, in 2017 including new policies to allow guarantee that rental housing is habitable and that payday loan rules are strongly enforced.

Advocacy is the tip of an iceberg that starts with intensive monitoring.  We review all new Kentucky regulations each month.  During the General Assembly, we look online daily at all new bills and amendments.  We post a bill tracking chart on our website.
 
Monitoring helps make government more transparent.  It also promotes effective advocacy, under the rules for nonprofit lobbying.  Our comments on new regulations often provide a template for other groups.  We also act as a "whistle blower" on legislation that might make life more difficult for vulnerable Kentuckians.

As the saying goes, "Eternal vigilance is the cost of liberty."
 
Budget $20,000
Category Public, Society Benefit, General/Other Consumer Protection
Population Served Families, Unemployed, Underemployed, Dislocated, Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees
Program Short Term Success
In 2015, we worked on bills and regulations on payday loans, misclassification of workers as independent contractors, neighborhood redevelopment through landbanks, the foreclosure process and more—all to protect low income families, workers and consumers. 
 
We saw some success:  lawmakers declined to move the foreclosure process outside of the courts.   
 
Our Health Law Fellowship has allowed us to comment on Medicaid expansion and federal health reform, including suggestions for the online shopping experience through kynect, the new Kentucky "markeplace" for health insurance.
At times, as well, we are able to challenge a troubling practice in court.
Program Long term Success

Long term success "takes a village."  Our hope is that public policy will be just as responsive to low-income Kentuckians as to others—helping to protect their earnings, assets, health and safety and, just as important, fostering opportunity. 

Opportunity for low income Kentuckians can mean success for Kentucky as a whole, bringing key measures of our well-being closer to national averages, or exceeding them—from health to education to per capita income.  

Program Success Monitored By
To report to our Board, we use a simple metric for legislative monitoring and advocacy.  We list on a spreadsheet each bill on our Legislative Ethics Commission reports, rated it high or low and affirmative or defensive in impact. 
 
Of five high impact bills we addressed in 2015, we "won" on one.  But the remaining four were bills that would have helped low income that simply didn't pass . . .  yet.  Example:  payday loan protections. 
  
We also see policy change when government agencies consider our comments and make changes in regulations.  The evidence of change is there on paper and program statistics later can be used to assess impact. 

Of course, public policy is shaped by many actors and factors.

Meanwhile, success in court can produce both decisions on paper and tangible outcomes: in our successful challenge to nursing home "cutoffs," we received state data that showed all cutoffs were reviewed under new standards and 97 percent of people restored to care.

Examples of Program Success

We have:

Helped pass bills to:
  • Waive textbook rental fees for high school students receiving free lunches
  • Allow welfare parents to chose post-secondary education as their work activity
  • Protect homes from debt collectors, by raising the homestead exemption in bankruptcy
  • Make human trafficking a crime
Successfully opposed bills to:
  • Double the cap on payday loans from $500 to $1000
  • Make it harder for consumers to get a free copy of their medical records
Worked with state officials to:
  • Make public benefits notices easier to read
  • Improve forms used by hospitals to screen for free indigent care

Commented on agency regulations and plans and won changes to:

  • Require health insurers to meet new standards for spending dollars on health care itself
  • Better inform health care "shoppers" of their cost savings options  on "kynect," the new Kentucky health insurance marketplace
Filed suit to:
  • Stop Medicaid cutoffs of 400 people in nursing homes and 3000 in community care
  • Win over $100,000 in unpaid back wages for workers
Program Comments
CEO Comments
We are small but mighty.  With 7 full time and 2 part-time employees, one founding volunteer and, often, an AmeriCorps member, we tackle a wide range of poverty law problems in multiple forums.
 
We address that challenge by energetic work but also by setting priorities throught strategic planning.
Plans & Policies
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Date Strategic Plan Adopted Sept 2008
Management Succession Plan? Under Development
Organization Policy and Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy No
Collaborations
Our staff work together in several constellations as teams:
  • Our health advocacy team includes our Health Law Fellow, Senior Staff Attorney, Outreach and Health Communications Coordinators and Director
  • Our Employment Law Team includes our Employment Law Attorney, AmeriCorps or VISTA volunteer, Outreach Coordinator and Director
  • Our immigration law staff at Maxwell Street Legal Clinic includes our Program Director (an attorney), a part-time Legal Assistant and our CLINIC Immigration Fellow.

Maxwell Street founding volunteer Marilyn Daniel acts as a mentor for Maxwell Street staff and volunteers several hours a week helping with cases.

Supervision and evaluation are collegial and continuous.  Director Rich Seckel meets either weekly or biweekly with our Health Law Team, Employment Law Attorney and AmeriCorps member to make sure we deliver results on grants and projects. 
 
Senior Staff Attorney Anne Marie Regan supervises the legal work of our attorneys.
Awards
Awards
Award/RecognitionOrganizationYear
Certificate of Achievement for "Going the Extra Mile" award for Rich SeckelFoundation for a Health Kentucky2011
Excellence in Consumer AdvocacyConsumer Reports2014
Sohner Workers' Advocate AwardCentral Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice2014
Health AdvocacyKentucky Council of Churches2013
Distinguished Nonprofit LeadershipKentucky Nonprofit Network2016
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the Government? No
Fiscal Year
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2017
Projected Revenue $621,420.00
Projected Expenses $637,693.00
Endowment Value $16,469.58
Spending Policy N/A
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available). Revenue from foundations and corporations may be included in individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201520142013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
------
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Federal------
State------
Local------
Unspecified------
Individual Contributions$47,600$433,728$281,659
------
--$211,223$229,417
Investment Income, Net of Losses$154$106$205
Membership Dues------
Special Events----$1,615
Revenue In-Kind------
Other------
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$535,942$522,483$434,979
Administration Expense$58,822$56,907$49,165
Fundraising Expense$9,469$9,465$6,810
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.151.101.04
Program Expense/Total Expenses89%89%89%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue20%2%2%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$380,202$289,435$233,583
Current Assets$361,975$270,772$218,363
Long-Term Liabilities$32,495$30,053$21,215
Current Liabilities$335$411$9,599
Total Net Assets$347,372$258,971$202,769
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No
State Registration Yes
Comments
CEO Comments
KEJC grew rapidly under our Strategic Plan for 2009-2011, doubling our attorney staff by adding specialists in health care and employment law. 
 
Our successful growth means we are entering the world of "soft" money.  New programs are funded by an array of grants, earned income, client fees, donations and events, rather than guaranteed recurring sources.
 
In 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 we succeeded, ending the year "in the black" and building unrestricted reserves.  An award in 2014 of $25,000 from Consumer Reports for Excellence in Consumer Advocacy helped us improve our tech infrascture and our reserves.
 
In mid-2014, corporate-related Mason Foundation closed up shop and transferred its remaining assets to us, along with several individual donations, for the benefit of Maxwell Street Legal Clinic.  The total of $50,000 was given as a "quasi endowment," not permanently restricted but with an emphasis on use of interest and appreciation rather than principal. 
 
In the 2015 Good Giving Challenge, our strong showing among medium sized nonprofits won us two $5,000 contributions, resulting in a $10,000 endowment at Blue Grass Community Foundation.  In 2016, we won $5,000 additional. 
 
Address 201 W Short St Ste 310
Lexington, KY 405071220
Primary Phone 859 233-3057
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Richard J. Seckel
Board Chair Prof. Christopher W. Frost
Board Chair Company Affiliation UK College of Law