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Mission and History

Our Mission 

Our mission is to provide transformative legal services that enable diverse communities in East Palo Alto and beyond to achieve a secure and thriving future. Our goal is to support individuals and communities in effecting significant, positive changes.

In order to have a transformative impact, our direct services are coupled with community education, policy advocacy, and impact litigation. We train clients to navigate their way through the legal system and exercise their rights, seeking to facilitate lasting social change in disadvantaged neighborhoods through grassroots knowledge-building. Our ultimate goal is to empower individuals to attain a thriving future and to have a transformative impact on the broader community.

We also reach community members on a broad scale by recruiting, training, and mentoring volunteers throughout Silicon Valley to assist with cases. In 2015, 705 volunteers donated over 23,000 hours of legal services (with a market value of $7.1 million) to local community members.

We operate in three locations in East Palo Alto, an ethnically diverse community with a sizable immigrant population.  Over 90% of East Palo Alto’s residents are Latino, African-American, and/or Pacific Islander. Despite the infusion of wealth to Silicon Valley, many working class & immigrant communities have been left behind. East Palo Alto’s poverty rate is more than triple that of surrounding San Mateo County, which is now among the top thee most expensive counties in the country. The consequences of such regional inequality are severe for the client population that we proudly serve.

 

Our Work

We are an organization that is both rooted in East Palo Alto and that serves diverse communities outside of East Palo Alto, particularly where the challenges facing these communities are interrelated. Our staff has legal expertise in immigration, employment, housing, and consumer law. Our direct services are coupled with policy advocacy, community education, technical assistance, and impact litigation.  In addition, we develop strategic partnerships to strengthen our capacity-building efforts in the community and to maximize our impact. For many of the individuals that we assists, our services will be necessary first to help community members attain personal security and stability.  However, our ultimate goal is to empower individuals to attain a thriving future and to have a transformative impact on the broader community.

Our History

We along with our predecessor agency, the East Palo Alto Community Law Project, have a long standing history of noteworthy service in East Palo Alto and neighboring communities.  Since East Palo Alto’s incorporation in 1983, the legal services offered to the community have continuously expanded in response to evolving needs. Our legal service programs have benefited over 10,000 community members since our founding.

Time Line

East Palo Alto and neighboring communities face daunting challenges – in particular, widening regional inequality, increasing displacement of families to outlying areas, and a growing underclass of undocumented immigrants subject to abuse and predatory practices.  East Palo Alto is the only city between San Francisco and San José with a rent stabilization ordinance, and it remains one of the few pockets of relative affordability in San Mateo County.  East Palo Alto may undergo drastic changes in coming years, as potentially thousands of community members are forced out of the city and region because their incomes fail to keep pace with the skyrocketing cost-of-living.

With these challenges in mind, we look forward to extending our reach and broadening our impact, as we renew our commitment to empower community members to make their own change.