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Innovative Legal Program to Provide Access to Justice for More Texans

AUSTIN⎯Disability Rights Texas (DRTx), Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas (LANWT), Lone Star Legal Aid (LSLA), Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC), and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) are the proud recipients of the Texas Access to Justice Foundation Moonshot Grant Award. The funding will kickstart an initiative to expand essential legal services to underserved Texas communities, ensuring justice reaches every part of the state.

In 2022, Legal Services Corporation (LSC) found that low-income Americans receive little to no legal help for 92% of the problems that substantially impacted their lives in the past year. Similarly, the State Bar of Texas reported many of the state’s rural areas have little to no access to lawyers, disproportionately impacting people with disabilities.

The lack of legal resources is stark, with only five lawyers or less spread across sixty-seven counties. This includes 17 counties with just one lawyer and six counties with no lawyer, increasing the urgent need for this type of educational program.

The Moonshot Grant funding will help launch a Community Justice Workers (CJW) Program to expand access to legal services for low-income Texans using trained lay advocates to provide limited-scope civil legal services. DRTx is the lead grantee, with LANWT, LSLA, TLSC, and TRLA as subgrantees. The five groups will work closely to recruit, educate, and mentor the lay advocates.

The CJW Program will address unmet legal needs in areas such as:

  • Consumer debt

  • Credit repair

  • Estate planning

  • Housing

  • Public benefits

  • Special education

These focus areas may change after the completion of a community-involved planning process.


“It’s becoming more difficult for the funding that we use to assist low-income Texans with their legal issues to keep up with the rapidly growing need in our state, so we knew it was time to think outside the box,” said Sean Jackson, Executive Director at DRTx. “Thanks to this funding from TAJF, we’re embarking on a new era of collaboration with legal services in Texas. Working together, our organizations will be able to train the Community Justice Workers to provide services in a wider variety of issue areas, which will help more people with their most pressing legal problems.”

"Receiving the Moonshot Grant will transform access to justice in Texas. As part of collaboration with our partners, we will create an online training system for Community Justice Workers statewide to provide legal services to underserved areas. As the driving force behind, we’re ready to use technology to make legal help more accessible. This grant helps us continue our legacy of innovation and foster a fairer and more equitable legal system for all,” says Karen Miller, Executive Director of Texas Legal Services Center.

As the driving force behind, we’re ready to use technology to make legal help more accessible. Karen Miller, Executive Direct of Texas Legal Services Center

The Moonshot Grant will fund the project for three years. An essential phase of the initiative is creating a sustainability plan to allow services to continue beyond the grant timeline.


Texas Access to Justice Foundation Logo

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF) is the leading funder of civil legal aid to the poor in Texas. Created in 1984 by the Supreme Court of Texas, TAJF support for civil legal aid benefits hundreds of thousands of low-income Texans including victims of crime, abused and neglected children, veterans, the elderly and the homeless.

Disability Rights Texas Logo

Disability Rights Texas is the federally designated legal protection and advocacy agency (P&A) for people with disabilities in Texas established in 1977. Its mission is to help people with disabilities understand and exercise their rights under the law, ensuring their full and equal participation in society.

Texas Legal Services Center logo

Texas Legal Services Center is a statewide nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide high-quality legal representation, advice, advocacy, and education at no cost to underserved people across the state. With more than a dozen practice areas, our work touches almost every aspect of civil law that impacts low-income Texans.

Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas Logo

Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas is a nonprofit organization that strives to meet the civil legal needs of more than 1.5 million eligible clients in its 114-county service area covering the Panhandle and North and West Texas. The fifth-largest Legal Aid program in the United States, LANWT provides a wide variety of broad-based legal services to low-income clients including family law, wills and estates, disaster assistance, landlord/tenant matters, public benefits, real property, foreclosure prevention, and community revitalization matters.

Lone Star Legal Aid logo

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm providing free legal education, advice, and representation to low-income and underserved populations. Serving millions in 72 Texas counties and 4 Southwest Arkansas counties, LSLA focuses on economic stability, housing preservation, child welfare, family safety, and supporting vulnerable populations, including the disabled, elderly, crime survivors, and the LGBTQIA+ community.

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid logo

Texas RioGrande Legal Aid provides free legal services to people who cannot afford an attorney in 68 southwestern counties, including the entire Texas-Mexico border. TRLA attorneys specialize in more than 45 areas of law, including disaster assistance, family, employment, landlord-tenant, housing, education, immigration, farmworker, and civil rights. Our hotline is open from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (CST) Monday - Friday: (956)-996-TRLA (8752) or toll-free at (833) 329-TRLA (8752).


For media inquiries, please contact:

Edie Surtees Disability Rights Texas  512-407-2739,

Shelby Jean Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas 817-339-5384, 

Clarissa Ayala Lone Star Legal Aid 832-627-8404,

Staci Maloney Texas Legal Services Center


Sam Rucobo Texas RioGrande Legal Aid 915-241-6923,


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