When the Indianapolis Bar Foundation revamped its grant-making activity in 2011, a single word drove the effort from beginning to end: impact. Leaders envisioned a single high-dollar grant that would do more than just fund an organization’s daily activities—they envisioned giving life to a project or initiative that would have a dynamic effect on the community and its residents.
Impact has certainly been achieved through the 2014 Impact Fund recipient, the Joseph Maley Foundation. Through the grant, the foundation was able to expand and enhance a new program that has already touched the lives of families throughout the city.
The Joseph Maley Foundation was created in 2008 by former IndyBar and Indianapolis Bar Foundation president John Maley and his wife, Vivian, with the mission of serving children of all abilities. The foundation, named in their late son’s honor, has served thousands of children in its seven-year history through disability awareness programs, adaptive athletics, service and youth leadership.
One new service that was getting started in 2013-14 was the Joseph Maley Family Advocacy Program, with a focus on serving children with individual education programs (IEPs) in school. There are thousands of students with special education needs in central Indiana, and unfortunately many do not receive the full services they are entitled to by federal and state law. And, there are few attorneys in the area that specialize in providing guidance to families on this important issue, and most families cannot afford counsel.
The Joseph Maley Foundation applied for and was awarded the 2013-14 IBF Impact Grant to enhance and grow this Family Advocacy program. The funding allowed hiring of part-time staff to assist in development and implementation of the program, and the results have been extraordinary.
Joseph Maley Family Advocacy has four primary components: (1) education for area attorneys on special education law through quarterly CLE offerings; (2) periodic parent information sessions for families with students in need of and/or already receiving special education services; (3) periodic programming for teachers; and (4) one-on-one advice and counseling for families.
The program has already trained 35 area attorneys on special education and IEP laws, rights, and responsibilities, with more CLE sessions with varying degrees of specialization planned long-term. Dozens of families have received services through information sessions and one-on-one counseling. Educators, therapists, and medical providers are joining the effort to provide comprehensive guidance to families.