The State Bar of Michigan's Access to Justice (ATJ) Campaign raised nearly $1.3 million in new cash and pledges last year, making 2003 the most successful year to date in its short fundraising history. The ATJ Campaign raises funds to support nonprofit civil legal aid services for low-income families in Michigan.
The largest single donation in 2003 came from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, which gave a grant of more than $600,000. The money was designated to the Battle Creek office of Legal Services of South Central Michigan for an Education and Advocacy Program.
Large law firm support for the ATJ Fund continued to be a key factor in its success, with lead participation from Grand Rapids firms Warner, Norcross and Judd; Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt and Howlett; and Miller Johnson Snell and Cummiskey.
Leading the large firm contributions in the Detroit area were: Dykema Gossett; Miller Canfield, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn; Howard and Howard and Dickinson Wright. Other key contributors to the 2003 Campaign included General Motors Corporation and the Daimler Chrysler Corporation Fund. Also noteworthy are the sponsorships from the Dow Chemical Company and Masco Corporation for the Past Presidents' Dinner to Benefit Access to Justice.
Last year, the Michigan State Bar Foundation, which receives the contributions, distributed more than $600,000 to Access to Justice programs designated by donors. The Foundation, which also provides grants to improve access for all to the justice system, issued a third round of ATJ Fund grants totaling $35,000 for four innovative civil legal services projects.
To date, nearly $4.5 million has been raised in donations, pledges and planned gifts by the Campaign. More than $2 million of that has been directed to endowment funds to ensure that legal aid is supported in perpetuity.