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The 313 Project is working toward $25,000 prize, needs your Facebook votes to win

Grant would help establish Detroit-based resource center for underserved groups, including veterans

January 7, 2013

The 313 Project, a nonprofit that began in 2009 as a student coalition at Wayne State University Law School, needs your help to win a $25,000 prize from Home Depot’s Aprons in Action Facebook contest.

The group was founded by three Wayne Law students who are now alumnae — Aisa Villarosa Berg, Erika Riggs and Julianna Rivera. Its mission is to connect the legal community to Detroit’s underserved population through pro bono, charitable and educational efforts.

Volunteers have done that with project after project, including several efforts to help veterans. One of those projects, the renovation of Romanowski Park in southwest Detroit last summer, earned The 313 Project a nomination for Home Depot’s Aprons in Action Facebook contest.  The group that gets the most Facebook votes in the monthly contest will get a $25,000 gift card and compete at the end of the year for a $250,000 award from the Home Depot Foundation. The 313 Project is the only Michigan group entered.

You can vote once a day through the end of the month by visiting

“We need all the assistance we can get in spreading the word about our organization, our mission and the grant contest,” Berg said.

Winning will help The 313 Project open a “legal aid and resource center to underserved groups, including veterans and young people who have aged out of foster care and the juvenile system here in Detroit,” Berg said. “Since its inception, the 313 Project has conducted numerous legal clinics, including two veterans’ law comprehensive legal clinics at Piquette Square, a long-term housing facility in southwest Detroit for previously homeless veterans.”

The group also has provided college scholarships for Detroit youth, collaborated on monthly service events, and “adopted” needy families for the holidays.  Visit to learn more.

This summer’s cleanup at Romanowski Park, which is named after Sgt. Stanley Romanowski, a Detroit man killed in action during World War II, drew more than 300 volunteers, including many Wayne Law students, alumni and faculty members.

They painted structures; installed bleachers, picnic tables and garbage cans; and even boarded up several blighted houses encircling the park.

The legal clinics for veterans at Piquette Square featured more than 30 volunteer attorneys, including many Wayne Law alumni, who counseled the veterans on benefits, disability law, housing law, bankruptcy law and issues of family law. The event also offered free health screenings donated by Oakwood Healthcare and featured a barbecue lunch for the veterans.

“The vets face many legal challenges that largely go unaddressed,” Berg said. “Legal aid is available to them, but only in areas of VA benefits law and only after they are denied.”

Photo caption:  Wayne Law students Weiling Chou (left) and Natalia Santanna sweep up debris during a 313 Project volunteer effort in July 2012 to renovate Romanowski Park in Detroit.  The cleanup, which drew more than 300 volunteers, earned the 313 Project a nomination for Home Depot’s Aprons in Action Facebook contest.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students.