Legal Impact Network
Increasingly, the most important arena for developing laws, policies, and best practices that can improve quality of life and opportunity for people in poverty is the state level. In implementing federal initiatives, states make literally dozens of choices involving funding, program design, staffing, and evaluation. Moreover, many important issues affecting people living in poverty, like criminal justice, jobs and workplace issues, domestic or community violence, and most aspects of public education, involve little or no role for the national government.
In recognition of the importance of state-level advocacy work, the Shriver Center organized the Legal Impact Network, a group of advocates working in statewide law and policy advocacy organizations. These organizations have the subject matter and procedural expertise, policy knowledge, and legal skills to identify the best state policy choices, engage in litigation where necessary, educate allies and the general public, and otherwise drive important systems change.
The network currently reaches 31 states and Washington D.C., representing 37 million of the 49 million people living in poverty.
The Legal Impact Network includes advocates from organizations that have impressive histories of legal and policy advocacy victories on behalf of people living in poverty. Through the Legal Impact Network, advocates share information, including advocacy successes and strategies, to improve their collective capacity to drive systemic change. A goal of the Legal Impact Network is to take coordinated multi-state action to win policy and legal victories for people in poverty.
The Shriver Center coordinates the work of the Legal Impact Network and supports network members’ work through training, information-sharing, and online community-building tools and forums. The Shriver Center’s advocates, who have a wide range of expertise in anti-poverty advocacy at the state level, are active participants in the Legal Impact Network’s various working groups.