In jurisdictions that have successfully secured funding for a pilot project, the immediate focus becomes implementation and ensuring that legal service providers have the resources to begin the crucial work of providing legal representation. (The forthcoming Module 3 of this toolkit will focus on program design considerations.See the Advancing Universal Representation toolkit, ) Equally important at this nascent stage is developing a plan to ensure that the success (and limitations) of the program are thoroughly documented and communicated for purposes of longer-term sustainability.

To build a program from a pilot into a fully funded initiative, stakeholders—prospective or new ones, as well as longtime allies—need to be reminded why an investment in universal representation is a humane, fair, and fiscally sound policy.Berberich, Chen, Lazar, et al., Advancing Universal Representation, Module 1, 2018. Elected officials’ commitment to universal representation needs to be renewed with every legislative season, demonstrating why and how a program works can motivate them to continue to be champions of the issue. Beyond lawmakers, coalitions should communicate with the community members who fought hard to secure funding for the pilot, particularly about the amount of time necessary for the program to become operational and the projected number of people who will be served. Small-scale pilot programs mean that not everyone will receive representation right away, and this must be made explicit from the start.

From the program’s onset, communicate to all stakeholders what a pilot entails and the importance of continuing to develop more funding and/or more secure funding sources, including multiyear funding; funding allocated through executive budgets; or statutory changes guaranteeing the right to counsel. Throughout the program, discuss successes, challenges, and strategies for growth with coalition and movement allies. Strategies for expansion include many of the same elements that go into starting a program, as described previously, along with ongoing education of stakeholders to share updates on the program’s impact and highlights of the work; an evaluation process that closely tracks relevant data points, such as client demographics and outcomes; public events where people directly affected by the program are encouraged to share their experiences; and media coverage highlighting the stories of clients.See Stave, Markowitz, Berberich, et al., Evaluation of the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, 2017; and Elvia Malagón, “Her Family Fled Pinochet’s Chile. She Could Be Sent Back, Despite Green Card, After Drug Addiction and Theft Convictions,” Chicago Tribune, November 14, 2019, It was through these strategies, and more, that the universal representation program in New York transformed from a $500,000 city-based pilot in 2013 to a fully funded program with more than $20 million in combined funding from the city and state by 2020.