Justice Center’s New Educational Equity Project Addresses Educational Barriers
The University of Texas School of Law and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) are proud to announce the creation of the Educational Equity Project (EEP). The project will address the significant issue of educational barriers for low-income and minority students across Austin.
The project is an expansion of a two-year partnership between the DDCE and Texas Law’s William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law that focused on the School-to-Prison Pipeline. “We are very pleased to join with the DDCE to broaden the scope of this project and work to improve educational equity in Austin,” said Eden Harrington, director of the Justice Center.
Graduate Meg Clifford, ’12, helped start the project as a fellow and said the major achievements in the first two years included institutionalizing the law school’s Youth Court at Webb Middle School; developing expertise and resources to assist students in school disciplinary, misdemeanor ticketing and truancy hearings; and developing the Texas Law Pro Bono Program’s Expunction Project, a clinic model that engages volunteer law students and lawyers to help individuals expunge their criminal records, mitigating future harms stemming from low-level offenses. Additionally, the Justice Center and DDCE will soon publish a manual for the Youth Court program and make it available to law schools and universities around the country.
“We feel strongly that the Youth Court program is a viable model for helping to eradicate the School-to-Prison Pipeline that is prevalent in so many communities, and look forward to continuing our partnership with the William Wayne Justice Center to educate others about Youth Court,” said Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement at The University of Texas at Austin. “By extending our partnership, we can make real progress helping underserved youth in our community address legal concerns that often hinder their educational attainment.”
Clifford, who is now the attorney for EEP, will continue to work on Youth Court as well as consult with other schools interested in implementing diversionary programs. She will also develop legal and advocacy programs to further educational equity on other fronts, and work with community organizations and legal service providers to develop pro bono opportunities for law students that focus on unmet legal needs of low-income youth related to educational equity and collateral issues.
In addition to support from the Texas Law and the DDCE, the EEP is supported by a generous gift from the Janet Newberger Scholarship Fund of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation. “We are grateful for the expanded support of the Janet Newberger Scholarship Fund and the Newberger family, and for DDCE’s continuing partnership with us in this effort,” Harrington said.
For more information, contact: Meg Clifford, William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law, 512-232-1472, firstname.lastname@example.org.