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Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No

Summary

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Mission StatementMORE »

The Women’s Bar Foundation advances social and economic justice by providing low-income women with access to legal representation and a means to be heard. The WBF recruits and trains volunteer attorneys to address legal issues that disproportionately affect low-income women and their children. Through its pro bono programs, the WBF educates the legal community about the positive impact that one attorney’s work can have on the life of a client at risk.

Mission Statement

The Women’s Bar Foundation advances social and economic justice by providing low-income women with access to legal representation and a means to be heard. The WBF recruits and trains volunteer attorneys to address legal issues that disproportionately affect low-income women and their children. Through its pro bono programs, the WBF educates the legal community about the positive impact that one attorney’s work can have on the life of a client at risk.


FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2013 to Dec 31, 2013
Projected Income $327,337.00
Projected Expense $317,232.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Elder Law Project
  • Family Law Project for Battered Women
  • Hampden County Housing Court Project
  • The Framingham Project
  • Women's Lunch Place Project

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Overview

Mission Statement

The Women’s Bar Foundation advances social and economic justice by providing low-income women with access to legal representation and a means to be heard. The WBF recruits and trains volunteer attorneys to address legal issues that disproportionately affect low-income women and their children. Through its pro bono programs, the WBF educates the legal community about the positive impact that one attorney’s work can have on the life of a client at risk.


Background Statement

Established as a 501(c)(3) organization in 1993 by the Women’s Bar Association, the WBF’s founding mission is to establish an equitable legal system, to promote social and economic equity for women, and to meet the legal needs of women and their children through an array of pro bono services. To date, the WBF has served thousands of indigent and low-income battered women, homeless women, incarcerated women, and elderly women and men.
 
In 1995, the Family Law Project (FLP) won the R.O.S.E. Fund's Distinguished Service Award, and in 2004 it was also given the Public Service Award from the National Conference of Women's Bar Associations. In addition, in 2003 the WBF received a Supreme Judicial Court Adams Pro Bono Publico Award for distinguished service and outstanding commitment.
 
The WBF relies on hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers and generous individuals, foundations and corporations to help low-income women and children improve their lives.
 
 

Impact Statement

Accomplishments:
1) The Family Law Project staff managed nearly 1,600 calls to the intake line and provided legal assistance to 360 clients including 124 referrals to pro bono attorneys.
2) The Elder Law Project implemented a new intake line which allows seniors to contact the Project directly. The staff provided information to 106 callers and referred 78 clients to pro bono attorneys.
3) The Hampden County Housing Court Project has been so successful in assisting homeless families facing eviction that it has expanded into Hampshire County.  
4) The Women's Lunch Place Project secured two volunteer coordinators to assist with legal questions from the guests of the shelter.
5) The Framingham Project for Incarcerated Women continues to serve women who are incarcerated or recently released from a correctional facility. 

Needs Statement

1. Volunteers- The WBF relies on volunteer attorneys to provide legal assistance to clients and to serve as mentors to other volunteer attorneys.
 
2. Funding- Increased financial support from grant providers, individual donors, law firms and corporate sponsors to help the WBF continue to provide free legal services.  
 
3. Technology upgrade- A better computer system to organize data, keep track of members and provide more efficient management of information.  

CEO Statement

The Women’s Bar Foundation of Massachusetts (WBF) recruits, trains and mentors volunteer attorneys to represent, on a pro bono basis, low-income victims of domestic violence, elders facing end-of-life decisions and families on the verge of homelessness.  The WBF’s volunteer attorneys also participate in educational seminars for women in prison and homeless women in the greater Boston area.  The WBF is unique among providers of free, civil legal assistance in two respects:  (1) we recruit, train and mentor all of our volunteer attorneys and (2) we accept clients who are considered “working poor” as income eligibility for services is set at 250% of the Federal Poverty Guideline (this equates to gross annual income of $57,625 for a family of four).  Since traditional civil legal aid programs in Massachusetts set income eligibility at 125% of the Federal Poverty Guideline, the WBF serves low-income residents who fall into the eligibility “gap”. The WBF’s clients have been turned away from traditional civil legal aid programs yet cannot afford to hire an attorney without sacrificing basic necessities.


Board Chair Statement

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Geographic Area Served

STATEWIDE
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Organization Categories

  1. Crime & Legal - Related - Legal Services
  2. Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy - Women's Rights
  3. -

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)

No

Programs

Elder Law Project

The Elder Law Project’s two-fold mission is to educate seniors about the importance of having end-of-life documents such as wills, health care proxies, durable powers of attorney, and living wills, and to prepare these documents for low-income elders on a pro bono basis.
 
The ELP gives presentations to elders at senior centers and low-income elderly housing developments to explain the purpose and importance of these end-of-life-documents. Low-income seniors who are interested in having such documents prepared meet with volunteer attorneys at these sites. Once the documents have been prepared, the volunteer attorneys return to the site to have the documents executed. 
 
In September 2011, the ELP began to solicit information as to whether the services the WBF currently provides are still unmet needs in the community and whether any other legal service agency was handling these issues. It was reported that seniors were requesting assistance with end-of-life documents at other agencies and the WBF was the only organization that was providing these services, especially in Eastern Massachusetts.
Budget  10,000
Category  Human Services, General/Other Senior Services
Population Served Elderly and/or Disabled Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 
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Program Long-Term Success 
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Program Success Monitored By 
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Examples of Program Success 
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Family Law Project for Battered Women

Started by a small group of WBA members in 1995, the Family Law Project (FLP) continues to be the largest pro bono program at the Women’s Bar Foundation, drawing over 100 new attorneys each year. The FLP recruits, trains, and mentors attorneys and collaborates with legal and social services to provide high quality representation and assistance to victims of domestic violence.

The FLP has two primary missions:

The first is to empower domestic violence victims by giving them a voice in their abuse prevention order and family law cases. As such, we seek to prevent further abuse, homelessness, loss of child custody, and to decrease repeated court hearings. The FLP's second mission is to engage lawyers in pro bono service and, thus, make them stake holders on issues involving low-income domestic violence victims. The FLP meets both of its missions by referring clients to volunteer attorneys trained and mentored by the FLP on issues related to family law and domestic violence.  

The FLP is a unique organization because it is designed to meet the legal needs of the underserved in the legal services community who have already been denied representation by a legal services agency and who might otherwise 'fall through the cracks.' About half of the individuals served by the FLP are indigent, according to federal poverty guidelines; the remaining individuals we serve are low income and, thus, make too much money for legal services eligibility but earn too little to be able to afford to retain an attorney.

Budget  277,669
Category  Crime & Legal, General/Other
Population Served Females Victims Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 
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Program Long-Term Success 
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Program Success Monitored By 
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Examples of Program Success 
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Hampden County Housing Court Project

The Hampden County Housing Court Project was created in response to the Hampden County Housing Court’s plea to local attorneys to help reduce the number of unrepresented people in Housing Court.  The attorneys involved in the project have represented hundreds of clients since its inception in matters before the Western Division of the Housing Court by providing critical legal services to pro se litigants facing homelessness in Western Massachusetts.

Budget  --
Category  Crime & Legal, General/Other
Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 
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Program Long-Term Success 
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Program Success Monitored By 
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Examples of Program Success 
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The Framingham Project

The Framingham Project serves women incarcerated in Massachusetts’ prisons and jails, or those who have been involved with the criminal justice system. Currently, volunteer attorneys work to clear warrants, helping women get released from prison in a timely manner or advance to a lower security classification that permits greater access to educational and programmatic opportunities while they serve their sentences.
 
In addition to these direct services, the Framingham Project holds educational presentations for women in M.C.I. Framingham, the Suffolk County House of Correction, the Women’s Re-entry Program of the Boston Rescue Mission, and Aid to Incarcerated Mothers (AIM). Volunteer attorneys meet with women and answer questions regarding family law, child custody, care and protection, housing, CORI, and criminal warrant clearing. 
Budget  --
Category  Crime & Legal, General/Other Inmate Support
Population Served Females Offenders/Ex-Offenders Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 
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Program Long-Term Success 
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Program Success Monitored By 
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Examples of Program Success 
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Women's Lunch Place Project

The WBF began partnering with the Women’s Lunch Place in 1993 to help meet the legal needs of its guests, primarily low-income homeless women, victims of violence, or women suffering from mental health problems and addiction. The Women’s Lunch Place provides a daytime refuge for these vulnerable women. Many face complicated legal problems which become obstacles to meeting their basic daily needs. Many also have limited ability to understand the legal issues they are facing. Without legal advocacy, many ofthe women are left to navigate the complex judicial system alone, often with unsuccessful results.

The WBF also collaborates with the Volunteer Lawyers Project to enhance the WLP’s internal legal advocacy services. Members of the WBF’s Board of Trustees volunteer at the WLP to help provide meals and distribute clothing to guests in order to become more familiar with the direct operations of the WLP.
 
 
Budget  --
Category  Crime & Legal, General/Other Legal Services
Population Served Homeless People/Families with of People with Psychological Disabilities Alcohol, Drug, Substance Abusers
Program Short-Term Success 
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Program Long-Term Success 
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Program Success Monitored By 
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Examples of Program Success 
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CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Management


CEO/Executive Director Ms. Patricia E. Comfort
CEO Term Start Sept 2011
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience Ms. Comfort brings years of experience in legal and nonprofit settings to the dual position with the sister organizations, the Women's Bar Association and Women's Bar Foundation. For the past nine years, she served as Director of the Equal Justice Coalition, where she was instrumental in building support for access to justice through legal aid funding. Her achievements included mobilizing the private bar across Massachusetts to advocate for legal aid and growing the annual “Walk to the Hill” to impressive proportions. Prior to joining the EJC, Ms. Comfort was Assistant Counsel at Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group, the Director of Community Organizing for Coalition for a Better Acre in Lowell, a Community Organizer for Tenants United for Public Housing Progress and the Assistant Director of the Cruise and Pershing Project in Washington, D.C. In addition, she is a longtime member of the WBA and other local bar associations. Ms. Comfort is a graduate of Boston College and Northeastern University School of Law.
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience


Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
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Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Rachel B. Biscardi Director of Pro Bono Projects

Rachel Biscardi is the Director of Pro Bono Projects for the Women’s Bar Foundation (WBF) where she oversees the WBF’s five pro bono projects.  Ms. Biscardi is responsible for recruiting, training, and mentoring volunteer attorneys to represent victims of domestic violence in the Probate and Family Court.  Before joining the WBF, Ms. Biscardi worked at Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts, the Essex County District Attorney’s Office, and clerked in the Probate and Family Court. 

Ms. Biscardi is an Adjunct Professor at New England Law teaching Family Law since 2011.  She also participates on the Governor’s Working Group on Child-centered Family Laws representing the Women’s Bar Association.  Ms. Biscardi is also co-chair of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Coalition, which is comprised of law firms, district attorney’s offices, legal service agencies, and batterer’s intervention programs.  Ms. Biscardi is also a member of the Boston Bar Association’s Family Law Steering Committee.  In 2010-2011, Ms. Biscardi served as the Women’s Bar Association’s representative on the Legislative Task Force on Alimony which drafted the Alimony Reform Act of 2011.  Ms. Biscardi is also an active member of the Family Law Task Force which is comprised of legal service attorneys from across the state that practice family law for low-income victims of domestic violence.  In 2010, the Women’s Bar Association awarded Ms. Biscardi with its Certificate of Service for her advocacy in alimony reform.  She has authored several articles on the value of pro bonowork in such journals as the BBA Family Law Journal and the WBA Chronicle. Ms. Biscardi is a graduate of Boston University School of Law with a specialization in litigation and dispute resolution.  

Lisa F. Jacobson Family Law Project Staff Attorney

 

Lisa Jacobson has worked at the Women’s Bar Foundation since graduating law school in 2004. She became the WBF Family Law Project’s first Staff Attorney in June 2006. Lisa works primarily in the area of family law and domestic violence and on immigration issues related to domestic violence. Prior to her career with the WBF Lisa was a Chef in New York, London, Boston and Cape Cod.

Lisa is currently enrolled at UMass Boston and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution. She is a member of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Council. 

 

Awards

Award Awarding Organization Year
Public Service Award National Conference of Women's Bar Associations 2004
Supreme Judicial Court Adams Pro Bono Publico Award Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services 2003
Distinguished Service Award R.O.S.E. Fund 1995

Affiliations

Affiliation Year
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Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
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Collaborations

The Women’s Bar Foundation was born in 1993 out of its sister organization, the Women’s Bar Association (WBA). It serves as the educational and charitable affiliate to the WBA, both of which promote and advance gender equity. 

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

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Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 4
Number of Part Time Staff 0
Number of Volunteers 6
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 100%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 4
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 4
Male: 0
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Management Succession Plan --
Business Continuity of Operations Plan --
Organization Policies And Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy --
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit --
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions

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Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Semi-Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Semi-Annually

Governance


Board Chair Ms. Ellen Farwell Esq.
Board Chair Company Affiliation Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Board Chair Term Jan 2015 - Dec 2015
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Chris Butler Esq. Battered Women’s Advocacy Program, Suffolk University School of Law Voting
Jennifer L. Chunias Esq. Goodwin Procter LLP Voting
Kate Cook Esq. Office of the Governor Voting
Susan Corcoran Esq. Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission Voting
Kyla Curley StoneTurn Group LLP Voting
Janet Donovan Esq. Casa Myrna Vazquez, Inc. Voting
Maria R. Durant Esq. Collora LLP Voting
Amy C. Egloff Esq. Goldstein, Egloff, Ramos & Wood, LLP Voting
Ellen Farwell Esq. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Voting
Suzanne Garrow Esq. Heisler Feldman McCormick & Garrow Voting
Michele M. Garvin Esq. Ropes & Gray LLP Voting
Donna Stoehr Hanlon Esq. Fidelity Investments Voting
Erin K. Higgins Esq. Conn Kavanaugh Rosenthal Peisch & Ford, LLP Voting
Mary Jo Johnson Esq. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP Voting
Sharon Simpson Jones Esq. Raytheon Company Voting
Marianne C. LeBlanc Esq. Sugarman and Sugarman, P.C. Voting
Sarah McClean Esq. Law Office of Sarah McClean Voting
Siobhan Mee Esq. Bingham McCutchen LLP Voting
Michelle Peirce Esq. Donoghue Barrett & Singal, P.C. Voting
Katie M. Perry Esq. Massachusetts Department of Revenue Voting
Jamie Ann Sabino Esq. Administrative Office of the Trial Court Voting
Uzma Saghir Esq. Liberty Mutual --
Kristin W. Shirahama Esq. Rosenberg, Freedman & Lee LLP Voting
Irit Tamir Oxfam America Voting
E. Abim Thomas Esq. Goodwin Procter LLP Voting
Julia Vacek Wilde Esq. Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC Voting
Robin Walker Esq. Biogen Idec Voting
Sally Walker Esq. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Voting
McKenzie E. Webster Esq. Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
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Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
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Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
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Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 27
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 1
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 30
Male: 0
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 0
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 75%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Under Development
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 75%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No

Standing Committees

  • Distributions / Grant Making
  • Marketing
  • Nominating
  • Strategic Planning / Strategic Direction

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

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Financials


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2013 to Dec 31, 2013
Projected Income $327,337.00
Projected Expense $317,232.00
Form 990s

2014 990

2013 990

2012 990

2011 990

2010 990

2009 990

2008 990

Audit Documents

2014 Review

2013 Review

2012 Review

2011 Review

2010 Review

2009 Review

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Total Revenue $303,846 $280,370 $301,761
Total Expenses $297,847 $289,115 $305,963

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
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Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $161,779 $168,022 $147,021
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $6,843 $6,338 $2,270
Investment Income, Net of Losses $103 $181 $207
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events $135,121 $105,829 $152,263
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Program Expense $221,610 $216,394 $204,327
Administration Expense $59,521 $57,138 $58,295
Fundraising Expense $16,716 $15,583 $43,341
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.02 0.97 0.99
Program Expense/Total Expenses 74% 75% 67%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 6% 6% 14%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Total Assets $290,345 $246,643 $250,970
Current Assets $278,406 $232,487 $240,392
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $111,708 $74,005 $69,587
Total Net Assets $178,637 $172,638 $181,383

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
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Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 2.49 3.14 3.45

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per the organization's IRS Form 990s.  Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.

Documents


Other Documents

Annual Report (2012)

Impact

The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.


1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

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2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

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3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

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4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

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5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

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