Case Update Telephone Conversations with 2021 Grantees

The Barbara McDowell Foundation sets itself apart from other foundations with frequent grantor/grantee communications to monitor the status of its grants. The Foundation’s communications with grantees include the following three items. 

  1. The submission of quarterly timesheets by a grantee confirming the hours and names of each attorney working on the case for which the grantee received funds. 
  2. The submission of a six-month interim grantee report detailing updates on the case and a year-end report summarizing how the foundation’s funds were used throughout the grant period. The six-month reports from the 2021grantees are summarized in a recent News story, here, and posted to the Foundation’s website, here
  3. Telephone calls with the grantee to discuss the progress of their grant-funded case. 

These grant monitoring efforts ensure that the funds granted by the Foundation are being used as agreed upon by the social justice organization in their grant agreement with the Foundation and serve as an assurance to potential donors that their contributions to the Foundation are making an impact. 

What follows are the highlights of telephone calls between the 2021 grantees and Foundation President, Jerry Hartman, and Vice-President, Peggy Zwisler, which took place in May 2021.

 Asian American Advancing Justice

This case involved various challenges to the Trump Administration’s conduct of the 2020 Census. The Biden Administration rescinded various Executive Orders and actions that formed the basis for the lawsuit.  As a result, the grantee has dismissed its case without prejudice, based upon assurances from the Biden Administration that it is taking appropriate measures to produce accurate census data. AAJC is very appreciative of the Foundation’s financial support of its case. 

Disability Rights New York 

This case involves challenges to the procedures of the New York State Board of Elections relating to the ability of visually impaired residents to vote using the expanded absentee ballots that the state instituted as a result of the pandemic.

While settlement discussions are still ongoing, the State has agreed, after negotiations with the grantee, to provide accessible absentee ballots to visually impaired residents for all of the elections in 2021, which is a significant achievement that protects the mayoral and other elections this year.  It is hoped that the case settlement will make this concession permanent.

Gender Justice

This precedent setting case involves the failure of two pharmacies in rural Minnesota to fill a prescription for an emergency contraception pill in January 2019.  One of the pharmacists refused to fill the prescription on religious grounds. The pharmacy, Thrifty White, argued that because its pharmacist would not dispense the medication to a male or female customer, his refusals are not based on sex and are therefore not sex discrimination. The other pharmacy, CVS argued that the plaintiff’s claim was a challenge to a neutral policy (disparate Impact) which is not covered by the Minnesota Human Rights Law.

The plaintiff claims that this refusal is a violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act which prohibits discrimination based on sex, which expressly includes issues related to pregnancy and childbirth and that no disparate impact analysis was needed.  Both sides moved for partial summary judgment. The Court denied the cross-motions finding that a factual issue exists as to whether the pharmacist’s actions constituted a refusal to dispense the medication.  The case is now being prepared for trial. 

National Center for Youth Law (“NCYL”)

NCYL and co-counsel asked the Court at a status conference in May of 2021 to enter its order on Plaintiffs' motion for summary adjudication in a case seeking protection for children in federal immigration custody. This order would address three of Plaintiffs' five classes: including children who are not promptly released to sponsors, children that get stepped up to more restrictive facilities, and children whose lawyers are obstructed from comprehensive representation. 

The Court has given the parties one additional month to continue to attempt to settle these claims, but if they are unable to do so, the Court will issue its order.  The parties will continue negotiating settlement of the two remaining class action claims regarding children with disabilities and children who are administered psychotropic medication.  If the parties are unable to resolve those claims, the trial on those two remaining claims will occur in 2022.  

NCYL is grateful for the partnership and support of the Barbara McDowell Foundation which has allowed NCYL to expand protections for children in federal protective custody.

(June 2021)

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