Equal Justice Works Blog

Sarah Mateja, 2013 AmeriCorps JD Member: Helping Veterans Re-Enter Civilian Life

January 15, 2015

Sarah Mateja is a member of the 2013 Equal Justice WorksAmeriCorps JD class. Currently, she is serving Veterans struggling with substance abuse issues at the Allegheny County Veterans Treatment Court.  Sarah, a law student at Duquesne University School of Law, manages the clinical aspect of the court, which divert qualified Veterans from jail to treatment programs. Equal Justice Works interviewed Sarah to learn more about her experiences

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3 Student Loan Repayment Plans You Need to Know About

January 14, 2015

A recent Washington Post article discussing the student debt plight of Wayne Tibak demonstrates the fundamental strengths and weaknesses of income-driven repayment plans. An Income-Based Repayment reduced Wayne's monthly payments on his federal student loans from $976 a month to $105, helping him make his monthly payments and avoid default. However, his private loans aren't covered by these federal repayment options and, since he is paying less each month, he will be paying off his loans for longer and pay more in interest than he would in a ten-year repayment plan.

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Submit Your Photo for the Equal Justice Works Baby Bib Campaign Today!

January 8, 2015

You may recall that last October, Equal Justice Works launched its Baby Bib Campaign – an effort that promotes the Equal Justice Works’ mission by posting photos of “Future Fellows” wearing a branded baby bib. We received a number of submissions for the campaign but are always looking for more great photos and encourage Fellows, alumni, and partners to submit a picture, which will be featured in the online photo album below.  Check out our submissions so far:

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Eight Lessons We Learned About Student Debt from the Class of 2013

January 7, 2015

In November 2014, The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS) released Student Debt and the Class of 2013, its annual report on the student loan debt of four-year college graduates. So what is the current state of student debt? Here are the eight key lessons that can be gleaned from this informative report:

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Fellow Friday: Alumna Antoinette Balta (’12) Transforms the Life of a Veteran

January 2, 2015

Antoinette Balta is a 2012 Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow alumna.  At Public Law Center, she focused on addressing the civil legal needs of veterans in Santa Ana, CA. During her Fellowship, she co-developed the Operation Veterans Re-Entry project. Among her previous clients is U.S. Army veteran, Patrick, who served in the 82nd Airborne branch for 10 years. Watch the video below to see how Antoinette successfully acquired housing and employment for Patrick, and helped him retrieve his belongings that his landlord had illegally confiscated.

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5 Essential Provisions for the Higher Education Act to Alleviate Student Debt Today

December 22, 2014

Ericka Davis of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas recently noted that "[o]ver the past decade, student debt has skyrocketed and delinquency rates have nearly doubled to levels much higher than for other consumer lending products." The impact of this debt and delinquency has been felt the most by young student loan borrowers, who now face lower credit scores and rates of home ownership that are the lowest since 1982, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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Fellow Friday: Illinois Foreclosure Fellow Tracy Walsh Ensures That Struggling Borrowers Retain Their Homes in Chicago

December 19, 2014

2012 Equal Justice Works Illinois Foreclosure Fellow Tracy Walsh currently works at the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation. As part of her Fellowship, Tracy advocates for homeowners undergoing foreclosures. Equal Justice Works recently caught up with Tracy to learn more about her efforts to help struggling borrowers retain their homes in Chicago, IL.

What motivated you to pursue the Fellowship with Equal Justice Works?

There were more than 80,000 foreclosure cases pending in Cook County when I was working as a neutral officer of the circuit court in 2012. The court rooms were packed with distressed homeowners and tenants, who time after time lost their homes, as the majority of all decisions was foreclosure.  Despite a common acknowledgement of the errors in our financial system that led to the 2008 collapse, years later, those admissions still weren’t translating into homeowners garnering relief on the foreclosure front. With my Fellowship, I meet the needs of homeowners struggling to overcome both complex legal proceedings inside of court and elusive servicer practices outside of court. 

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Attention Law Students: Gain Valuable Career Experience with AmeriCorps JD!

December 16, 2014

Attention law students: gain valuable career experience by providing legal services to those who need it most!

AmeriCorps JD, an Equal Justice Works program funded by AmeriCorps, provides law students with the opportunity to work with seasoned attorneys around important issues and earn an education award of $1,212 for serving as a Fellow for a qualified nonprofit, state/local government agency, or academic institution. AmeriCorps is now accepting applications for new Fellowships within the program until February 6, 2014.

What impact can you make as an AmeriCorps JD Member? 2013 Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow, Jennifer Aronson, can tell you firsthand how her pro bono work made a significant difference, particularly in the lives of veterans.

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9 Facts About How to Manage Your Student Debt

December 16, 2014

Whether you are still deciding on college, taking out your first loans or are already in repayment, there is a lot to know about borrowing and repaying student loans.

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New Education Guidelines Reflect Recommendations Made by Alumna Katherine Burdick (’12), Juvenile Law Center

December 15, 2014

Equal Justice Works Fellow Katherine Burdick (’12), sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, is expanding equal access to high quality education to all youth through her tireless work at the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, Pa on behalf of youth placed in foster care or juvenile justice system institutions. 

Currently, youth in juvenile justice facilities are chronically behind in school, and more than half eventually drop out. Throughout her Fellowship, Katherine and her colleagues organized meetings with experts nationwide to develop recommendations around providing high quality education to youth in juvenile justice facilities, which she ultimately presented to federal agencies last year.

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