The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley received a much appreciated infusion of funding over the holidays, a $3.4 million gift from philanthropist and Amazon shareholder MacKenzie Scott.
“We’re incredibly grateful to Ms. Scott,” said Chief Executive Officer of the Law Foundation Alison Brunner in a press release. “The gift is a testament to the Law Foundation’s nearly 100 attorneys, advocates, social workers and coordinating staff working hard to advance justice and equity in our community. And it honors our clients and their families who trust us to serve and advocate alongside them.”
While the Law Foundation doesn’t receive a lot of recognition for what it does in the Silicon Valley – it’s often the nonprofit helping other nonprofits behind the scenes – it does aid some of the South Bay’s most vulnerable residents. Since 1974, the Law Foundation has offered free legal services to ensure residents have access to quality education, safe and stable housing, improved health outcomes, freedom from discrimination and financial security.
In December, the foundation’s work took over a Santa Clara sidewalk as dozens of older residents of two San Jose affordable housing complexes protested outside the headquarters of ROEM Corporation. They demanded that property management address public safety issues and better deal with the language barrier between management and residents. Many of the tenants speak Vietnamese or Spanish but only receive notices in English, leading to miscommunication.
“Renters need a good lawyer. And the good news is that the Law Foundation has been there when we’ve needed to refer clients who are facing eviction or have a court date,” said Bernard. “We’re not lawyers, and so we rely on them to be that partner agency for the clients who truly do need a good lawyer [who] understands the local, the city, the county, the state, the federal ordinances and laws about renters’ rights and also know how to negotiate with lawyers for landlords.”
Bernard says it’s helpful to have a partner who’s so connected to the community and speaks the language of the people they are helping.
“They understand the cultural nuances on all sides,” said Bernard. “Our case managers know that the Law Foundation will be there to respond and advocate at the courthouse, which is a very scary place to be…you’re facing eviction, perhaps you don’t speak in fluent English and this is your home that you’re going to about to lose. So, it’s good to know that they will be able to support them in that courthouse hearing.”
The Law Foundation serves more than 10,000 children and adults each year and the demand continues to grow.
“This gift will help us continue and deepen our commitment to serving children, low-income individuals and families and communities of color in Silicon Valley,” said Brunner.