Michele Statz, Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota; Matthew; Matthew Burnett, Senior Program Officer for the Access to Justice Research Initiative at the American Bar Foundation; and Nikole Nelson, Executive Director of Alaska Legal Services Corporation (ALSC), have received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of its CIVIC Innovation Challenge (CIVIC), a national research and action competition driven by community priorities. 


This project focuses on addressing the growing access to justice crisis in the United States using evidence-based, community-driven strategies to scale and sustain the ALSC’s non-lawyer Community Justice Worker (CJW) program throughout remote Alaska Native communities. The CJW program’s goal is to develop a service delivery model that trains trusted, culturally representative community workers and others already embedded in rural and remote areas across Alaska to provide critical legal advocacy, with the hopes of replicating the model across the U.S. 


“When we think about the enormous financial, health, and well-being implications of having unaddressed civil legal issues, it’s clear that they’re never exclusively ‘legal’ problems,” said Michele Statz, Principal Investigator and ABF Affiliated Scholar. “This absolutely changes the way we have to think about them, especially in rural areas where there are very few, if any, attorneys. I’m thrilled to be a part of an initiative that meaningfully honors and brings together the expertise of local stakeholders, community members, researchers, and diverse professionals.”