November 10, 2021

Willkie will be awarded the Karin Walser Commitment to Service Award by Horton’s Kids in recognition of Willkie’s pro bono support in order to secure government funding, as well as the programming and volunteer efforts of the Foundation.

The award honors volunteers who embody one of Horton’s Kids’ founding principles: dedicated volunteer service can change a child’s life. Horton’s Kids empowers at-risk children in grades K through 12 and prepares them for college, career and life through educational opportunities and comprehensive programs tailored to their needs. It serves approximately 500 children in the Wellington Park and Stanton Oaks communities in Southeast D.C., which house some of the lowest-income families in D.C., who are further challenged by one of the highest crime rates.

Horton’s Kids is the current principal grantee of the Willkie Greater D.C. Community Foundation, which was established to provide Willkie’s Washington, D.C. attorneys and staff an opportunity to work together to enhance the impact of individual charitable contributions and volunteer efforts in the local community. The Foundation’s mission is to support education and enrichment.

On behalf of Horton’s Kids, Willkie appealed the denial of a significant federal/state grant administered by the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education (“OSSE”) before the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings (“OAH”). Navigating obsolete D.C. regulations, Willkie developed a strong litigation position that brought OSSE to the settlement table. Willkie ultimately negotiated an agreement that included otherwise unavailable injunctive relief, requiring important changes to OSSE’s grant review process going forward. The settlement not only ensures that future grant competitions will follow more fair and robust selection procedures, but also maintains the important working relationship between Horton’s Kids and OSSE.

Willkie also assisted Horton’s Kids with its renewed application for the grant, which OSSE reviewed based upon the new agreed-upon review standards. In September, Horton’s Kids learned it would receive a total of $1.2 million, $400,000 awarded for three years, to support Horton’s Kids’ vital mission of empowering some of the most underserved youth in D.C.