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In the rich growing fields of California, there is a poorer Country; an impoverished land of shanties, labor camps and human exploitation. An afflicted land of toxic contamination, hunger and childhood death. An excluded land of illiteracy, doubt, self-denigration and despair. This other America is the home of California's farm workers and rural poor. Here, the social reality is one of stark inequality where the poor see laws meant for their benefit ignored and unenforced. Here, the denial of justice can mean the difference between dependency and independence; domination and dignity; and even life and death. Since 1965 CRLA has raised its powerful voice in the courtrooms, in the classroom& in the fields, and in the legislative halls of California. We have shown farm workers and other poor people that the law can be a friend and that those responsible for enforcing the laws can and should be called to account. But it is not enough to be a civil defender. Through our example, our fight and our voice, we must also be teachers so that the poor may become aware. of their fights, guarding and wielding them as symbols of inclusion, participation and respect. It is this act of fighting back that empowers, bringing the beginning of hope, the beginning of confidence, the beginning of justice. This is our wealth. This is our peopleÃ Â¢Ã ?Ã ?s wealth.
California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 corporation, formed in 1966 to provide free legal representation to low-income clients throughout rural California. CRLA reaches the rural communities through 17 Basic Service offices in Delano, El Centro, Gilroy, Madera, Marysville, Modesto, Monterey, Oxnard, Paso Robles, Salinas, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Santa Maria, Santa Rosa, Stockton and Watsonville and through 5 Migrant Farmworker Project offices in Coachella, Fresno, Oceanside, Oxnard and Salinas. Advocacy staff include 47 Attorneys and 29 Community Workers. Essential to CRLA's mission, Community Workers conduct community education and outreach projects, research the realities of rural poverty and they serve as liaisons between attorneys and client communities. Support is provided by 36 Legal Secretaries and 9 various administrative staff. CRLA is governed by a 45-member Board of Directors including one third who are client-eligible. Advisory Committees provide ongoing guidance to local offices and each local Advisory Committee has one designee on the Board of Directors. Program direction is developed by CRLA's Board, staff, and invited experts through statewide Priority Conferences convened every five years. Program development is further refined by local Advisory Committees through annual priority setting meetings. In recent years, CRLA has focused advocacy in six priority areas: Housing; Labor; Education; Health and Environmental Justice; Civil Rights and Community Economic Development. The majority of CRLA's budget (70%) comes from federally funded Legal Services Corporation grants. An additional 15% is derived from California grants including the State Bar's IOLTA (Interest on Lawyer Trust Account) program and the Equal Access to Justice Fund. Various other grants and contributions make up the balance.
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