Miller Johnson's 'Project Giveback' will provide community aid

GRAND RAPIDS– Miller Johnson has launched Project Giveback, a pro bono service providing access, resources, and solutions to those historically underserved by the legal system. The program includes attorneys from multiple practices with wide-ranging support for personal, business, protective, and financial needs of individuals.

“Project Giveback is intended to serve as part of the firm’s response to the numerous cultural and political events that we have witnessed and participated in throughout 2020 and into 2021,” said Stephen J. van Stempvoort, co-chair of the Pro Bono Committee. “Miller Johnson has played a key role in our communities’ response to the COVID crisis and many firm clients have commented on the excellent and valuable work that arose out of the team-based initiatives that Miller Johnson rolled out in response to the pandemic. Project Giveback is intended to build upon those experiences and leverage Miller Johnson’s resources in a way that will enable us to continue to serve our communities.”

In 2021, Project Giveback will provide pro bono services through these partnerships:

• YWCA West Central Michigan – Miller Johnson is dedicating attorneys to perform 1200 pro bono hours for YWCA clients who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The attorneys and YWCA Victim Advocates will work together to provide comprehensive support and ensure a survivor's legal and other goals align. Victims’ legal needs are diverse and intense (personal safety, child custody, housing, employment/ harassment, and more). Attorneys have participated in a YWCA-led training focused on understanding the impact of domestic violence and how to respond in ways that best support the safety and healing of a client.

According to statistics from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey conducted by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

o Nearly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men have endured severe physical violence by an intimate partner

o In Michigan, 301,000 women reported that their intimate partner had stalked or been physically or sexually violent with them within the past 12 months

For more information on the YWCA program, contact Charles Campbell at ccampbell@ywcawcmi.org (616) 459-4681.

• Rende Progress Capital– Miller Johnson is committing attorneys to perform 1200 pro bono hours for customers that seek legal services as they execute business planning and work through various phases of growth. Attorneys will provide support on corporate, tax, real estate and environmental, employment, and litigation matters, including COVID-related legal issues and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan issues.

Rende Progress Capital is a racial equity loan fund and emerging Community Development Financial Institution focused on eliminating the racial wealth gap through providing small business loans and technical assistance services to Excluded Entrepreneurs — business owners of diverse ethnic backgrounds who have been excluded from traditional lending and investing opportunities for a variety of socio-economic reasons and bias. Rende Progress Capital uses their innovative racial equity system in lending decisions.

o The lending and investment areas are in Grand Rapids / West Michigan, with other markets to follow at a future date.  The areas have been affirmed by data and insight from Excluded Entrepreneurs

o Excluded Entrepreneurs are African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American and Immigrants persevering through the combination of racial exclusion in some traditional lending

For more information contact Kevin Davis, kdavis@rendeprogresscapital.com.


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