Connecticut Appleseed is a statewide, non-partisan 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to develop solutions for the causes, rather than the symptoms, of our state’s social problems. We mobilize pro bono lawyers and other professionals in projects that improve access to education, healthcare and financial services for broad segments of the state’s population. Rather than assisting individuals, we meet the needs of underserved community members by devising systemic changes and structural solutions that improve social and economic justice in Connecticut.
A Collaborating Network
The Appleseed network, www.appleseednetwork.org, of which we are part fosters both multi-state collaborative projects that leverage both national and in-state pro bono legal resources and the sharing of successful ideas and innovative programs. For example, building on our 2008-2011 work on immigrant financial access (2009 Immigrant Survey Finding Summary), Connecticut Appleseed collaborated in 2015 with sister Centers in Nebraska, Texas, Kansas and Washington State to survey immigrant remittance use. Survey findings from Connecticut Appleseed’s in-state community partners in Stamford, Wallingford, and New Haven will be reflected in a published 2016 report on the implementation of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s 2013 remittance rule. Our report will also contain a broader analysis of immigrant finances based on focus groups from each state.
In 2010 Connecticut Appleseed collaborated with 4 other state-based Centers to produce “The Same Starting Line: How School Boards Erase the Opportunity Gap Between Poor and Middle-Class Children”. That report included an examination of whether a measurable difference in the quality of educational opportunities existed among elementary school students in Hamden, CT. Similarly, Connecticut Appleseed’s “Keep_Kids_in_School-Improving_School_Discipline 2011 Report” related in spirit – though not in detail – to analyses of school suspensions and expulsions data performed by our sister Centers in Texas and Georgia.
Projects Inspired by Board Members
Connecticut Appleseed also independently conducts projects addressing the passions of our Board members and the unique circumstances of our state. For example, in 2012 we issued a report
“Bullying: Helping School Districts to Accept Greater Responsibility” featuring Best Practices in preventing bullying to accelerate school district implementation of Connecticut’s school anti-bullying statute. Our 20-member pro bono team from Travelers’ Legal Department chronicled techniques to manage bullying found in 60 school interviews. Every school board member, school administrator and legislator in Connecticut received a copy.
Thanks to pro bono attorney assistance from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius’ Hartford office recruited and guided by Board member Michael D’Agostino, in late 2017 we began distributing copies of a sequel to our 2011 school discipline report entitled “Keep Kids in School: Improving School Discipline II” at the annual November convention of Connecticut school superintendents and school board members.
In 2014-2016 our transformative Connecticut Telehealth Workforce Partnership (CTWP) pioneered a revolution in cost-effective health care delivery while enhancing healthcare jobs, creating new ones and lifting wages. The CTWP is a skill/career development program integrating work-based and academic training to enable low-income Medical Assistants in community health centers to advance to new roles motivating and supporting patient self-management as certified “Health Coaches”. By applying new mobile technologies to monitor, coordinate and manage care, the CTWP increases patients’ ability to cost-effectively self-manage chronic diabetes and cardiovascular conditions, reducing health costs and moderating hospital readmissions.
Projects Powered by A Variety of Pro Bono Professionals
By leveraging the efforts of our well-connected Board, skilled volunteers, and tiny staff, Connecticut Appleseed operates very efficiently. An annual average of 1,000 hours of pro bono support – valued at roughly $250,000 each year – helps to drive our projects. Volunteer attorneys have been the indispensable linchpin of every one of our projects. But Connecticut Appleseed has expanded professional volunteerism far beyond pro bono attorneys. For example, members of our Board of Directors prompted the Connecticut State Dental Association in 2007 to undertake a series of pro bono initiatives which have subsequently provided thousands and thousands of children and adults with free dental care.
Our Board similarly spurred volunteer bankers from throughout the state to help launch “Bank On Connecticut”, a 2011 collaboration of financial institutions and community partners that connected unbanked and underbanked state residents with mainstream financial services – including affordable checking, savings, and credit opportunities. Pro bono bankers helped their respective participating banks learn how to improve their outreach and expand the products and services that they offer to those who are unbanked or underbanked, strengthening Connecticut’s economy while improving public safety.
PRO BONO WORK
Connecticut Appleseed has given its “Diana M. Kleefeld Memorial Pro Bono Award” eight times, to the following people and organizations:
- 2009 Day Pitney, LLP
- 2010 Bingham McCutchen (which subsequently merged into Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP)
- 2012 Travelers’ Legal Department
- 2013 Priya S. Morganstern, Hartford Program Director for the Pro Bono Partnership (above picture)
- 2014 McCarter & English, LLP
- 2018 The Hartford’s Law Department (above picture, right)
- 2019 Daniel E. Wenner (for partnering Day Pitney LLP with United Technologies Corporation’s Legal Department)
- 2019 Robinson & Cole LLP