2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Kelsey Ripper

Kelsey Ripper

Name of Host Organization: Lawyers Alliance for New York
City, State: New York, New York
Issue area: Community Economic Development/Microfinance and Related Transactional Legal Projects
Sponsors: Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP

The Project

Kelsey provided comprehensive legal services to enable disadvantaged New York City communities to develop urban agriculture as a source of affordable fresh food and a means for economic development.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Low-income New Yorkers, especially those in communities of color, face serious health and environmental problems. Three million New Yorkers lack access to affordable and nutritious food, prompting residents to purchase unhealthy alternatives, which compounds obesity and malnutrition. Urban farms help alleviate these problems by generating fresh, healthy food right where it is most needed. Groups throughout New York’s low-income communities express an urgent need to start developing such ventures as soon as possible. They are stymied by lack of affordable, sophisticated legal assistance. They need lawyers to obtain essential rooftop and land leases and permits; to negotiate financing; to navigate complex, multi-agency regulatory environments; and to structure legal entities appropriate for urban food production and cooperative distribution networks.
Fellowship Highlights: 
During her Fellowship, Kelsey has:
• Counseled 24 nonprofit organizational clients that are addressing hunger and food access through urban agriculture, emergency food services, and food justice advocacy
• Provided brief legal advice and information to approximately 150 organizations, attorneys, and other individuals on issues of nonprofit law
• Recruited and co-counseled matters with 61 volunteer attorneys on projects such as incorporation, tax exemption, nonprofit governance, volunteer policies, leases, employee handbooks, employment contracts, and intellectual property
• Presented 16 workshops on how to become a nonprofit, seven of which were specifically focused on urban farms and gardens
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Kelsey continues working in community economic development and provides legal services to low-income communities in New York City as Project Director at Volunteers of Legal Services.

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