The Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation works with civil legal aid organizations in Wisconsin to increase access to justice. We oversee funds and invest in services and projects to help people resolve legal problems.

WisTAF awards $3.3 million in Civil Legal Aid grants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, November 8, 2021

CONTACT: Benson Gardner, communications and development manager, 608.620.0711, bgardner@wistaf.org

MADISON — The Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation, Inc. (WisTAF) today announced $3.3 million in civil legal aid grant awards that will be used by 19 nonprofit organizations in all regions of Wisconsin to protect people’s safety, livelihood, housing, and independence in the face of legal challenges. The funds will be distributed in 2022 and 2023.

“Think of grandparents raising their grandchild but needing official guardianship. Or, consider a victim of domestic violence who wants to protect herself and her family. Landlords and tenants often want to negotiate better solutions than eviction. These are cases handled regularly by Wisconsin civil legal aid providers. These organizations play a crucial role for our state,” said April Rockstead Barker, chairperson of the WisTAF Board of Directors.

The grants announced today are an example of civil legal aid, a strategy for addressing a longstanding hole in the justice system. While many people know of the Constitution’s guarantee of an attorney in criminal cases, there is typically no such guarantee outside of criminal law: an area broadly known as civil law.

However, civil law encompasses measures most people take for granted such as protecting their fundamental housing, employment, and medical care needs. A person who can’t afford a lawyer often struggles to navigate the legal system’s complexities. This struggle makes justice and stability elusive, and often creates costs for taxpayers in the form of courtroom inefficiency or the emergency services and public support needed when challenges fester.

Research shows low-income people’s civil legal needs typically go unmet, due to lack of resources or awareness. The COVID-19 pandemic has ballooned those needs, while decreasing funding from key sources.

Nonprofit law firms and others use WisTAF’s grants to offer advice, full legal representation, and access to online and in-person information to those who couldn’t otherwise afford a lawyer.

“So much thought has gone into passing legal protections that are supposed to be available to everyone. We should make sure people can in fact access those protections, especially when the stakes are high,” said Rebecca L. Murray, executive director of WisTAF.

WisTAF, a nonprofit organization established by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, is the state’s channel for general civil legal aid funding. In 2020, providers used WisTAF grants to assist more than 10,000 clients spread across every county in the state.

The grant awards announced today come from two of WisTAF’s civil legal aid grant programs:

• Direct Legal Services (DLS) allows providers flexibility to help low-income people address barriers to self-sufficiency. It is WisTAF’s oldest and largest grant program. In 2020, the most common types of cases were those related to housing (29 percent), family law (11 percent), and guardianship issues (9 percent).

• The Foreclosure Prevention/Community Redevelopment Legal Assistance (FP/CRLA) program catalyzes innovative practices to help low-income individuals and families stay in their homes and achieve financial stability. Simultaneously, providers in this program work at the community level to empower and stabilize groups facing disadvantage.

Seventeen organizations received DLS grants for 2022, while six organizations received FP/CRLA grants for both 2022 and 2023. Details are provided below.

WisTAF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works with civil legal aid organizations in the state to increase access to justice. WisTAF oversees funds and invests in services to help people resolve legal problems.

Following is a list of grantee organizations, their grant award(s), area served, and location(s) of office(s).

ABC for Health
$63,000 (DLS 2022)
Area served: Statewide
Office location(s): Madison

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee
$21,000 (DLS 2022)
Area served: Dodge, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, and Waukesha counties
Office location(s): Fond du Lac, Fontana, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Waukesha

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse
$15,000 (DLS 2022)
Area served: Adams, Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Marathon, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Portage, Richland, Trempealeau, Vernon, and Wood counties
Office location(s): Eau Claire, La Crosse, Loyal, Wausau

Center Against Sexual & Domestic Abuse (CASDA)
$25,800 (DLS 2022)
Area served: Ashland, Bayfield, and Douglas counties
Office location(s): Superior

Centro Legal
$35,000 (DLS 2022)
Area served: Milwaukee and Waukesha counties
Office location(s): Milwaukee

Community Justice, Inc.
$18,900 (DLS 2022)
$9,450 (FP/CRLA 2022)
$6,545 (FP/CRLA 2023)
Area served: Dane, Dodge, Crawford, Columbia, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Juneau, Lafayette, Marquette, Rock, Sauk, and Waushara counties
Office location(s): Madison

Disability Rights Wisconsin
$123,014 (DLS 2022)
Area served: Statewide
Office location(s): Green Bay, Madison, Menasha, Milwaukee, Rice Lake

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin
$15,750 (DLS 2022)
Area served: Statewide
Office location(s): Janesville, Madison

Kids Matter, Inc.
$44,000 (DLS 2022)
Area served: Milwaukee and Waukesha counties, limited services statewide
Office location(s): Milwaukee

Legal Action of Wisconsin, Inc.
$745,148 (DLS 2022)
$525,000 (FP/CRLA 2022)
$363,591 (FP/CRLA 2023)
Area served: 39 counties in southern Wisconsin
Office location(s): Green Bay, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Racine

Legal Aid Society of Door County
$11,000 (DLS 2022)
Area served: Door County
Office location(s): Sister Bay, Sturgeon Bay

Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, Inc.
$111,896 (DLS 2022)
$186,900 (FP/CRLA 2022)
$129,438 (FP/CRLA 2023)
Area served: Milwaukee County
Office location(s): Milwaukee, Wauwatosa

LOTUS Legal Clinic, Inc.
$20,000 (DLS 2022)
Area served: Statewide
Office location(s): Brookfield

Metro Milwaukee Mediation Services
$42,000 (FP/CRLA 2022)
$29,087 (FP/CRLA 2023)
Area served: Statewide

Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish DBA Catholic Multicultural Center
$10,500 (DLS 2022)
Area served: Columbia, Dane, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jefferson, LaFayette, Marquette, Rock, and Sauk counties
Office location(s): Madison

Portage County Legal Aid Society
$23,783 (DLS 2022)
Area served: Portage County
Office location(s): Stevens Point

Vivent Health
$25,000 (DLS 2022)
Area served: Statewide
Office location(s): Appleton, Beloit, Eau Claire, Green Bay, Kenosha, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, Superior, Wausau

Winnebago Conflict Resolution Center
$21,000 (FP/CRLA 2022)
$14,544 (FP/CRLA 2023)
Area served: Winnebago County
Office location(s): Oshkosh

Wisconsin Judicare
$192,209 (DLS 2022)
$262,500 (FP/CRLA 2022)
$181,795 (FP/CRLA 2023)
Area served: 33 counties in northern Wisconsin, and Native American clients statewide
Office location(s): Wausau

$1,501,000 (DLS 2022)
$1,046,850 (FP/CRLA 2022)
$725,000 (FP/CRLA 2023)

$2,547,850 (Total – grants announced today that will be distributed in 2022)

$3,272,850 (Total – all grants announced today)


January 13, 2023
Board & Staff Racial Justice Workgroup meeting
February 24, 2023
Executive Committee Teleconference
March 3, 2023
Board & Staff Racial Justice Workgroup meeting
March 10, 2023
WisTAF Board Meeting
May 9, 2023
Grants & Evaluation Committee Meeting
May 31, 2023
Executive Committee Teleconference
June 14, 2023
WisTAF Board Meeting
August 23, 2023
Finance Committee Meeting
September 12, 2023
Grants & Evaluation Committee Meeting
September 27, 2023
Executive Committee Teleconference
October 11, 2023
WisTAF Board Meeting
WisTAF announces $7.4 million in COVID-related grant awards
WisTAF disburses legal assistance for Afghan evacuees
Now Available: COVID-19 Civil Legal Services Grant Application materials
Now Available: WisTAF 2023 Direct Legal Services Grant Application materials
WisTAF awards $450,000 in Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Legal Assistance Grants



A Prime Partner since 2020, Bank of Sun Prairie goes above and beyond IOLTA participation requirements by paying additional interest on its clients' IOLTA accounts — helping to expand access to civil legal services in Wisconsin. Bank of Sun Prairie's participation reflects an admirable commitment to justice for all in Wisconsin.

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