A startup nonprofit organization that provides expressive arts programs for military veterans and their families has gained tax-exempt status as a public charity, thanks to pro bono legal services provided by McGuireWoods associate Bradley Ridlehoover, staff attorney Justin Trent, and paralegal Janis Paiva.
The Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP) works with veterans, nonprofits, and colleges to provide creative outlets for veterans and their families. ASAP began as a student-led initiative at the College of William & Mary that offered writing seminars for service members and veterans residing between Richmond, Virginia and Virginia Beach. The initiative grew to include music sessions and standup comedy classes.
ASAP founder Sam Pressler, a 2015 William & Mary graduate, intends to establish similar programs nationwide by 2020 at colleges located in areas near large military populations. He recently took a significant step toward achieving that goal when he was awarded a two-year, $80,000 grant from the Echoing Green Global Fellowship, a nonprofit that provides social entrepreneurs with startup funding and customized support services.
Ridlehoover connected with Pressler in March after learning about the organization’s need for legal help from the Greater Richmond Bar Foundation’s Pro Bono Clearinghouse.
“Brad allayed many of my concerns at the outset, and then was able to provide me with invaluable direction and support throughout the incorporation and determination process,” Pressler said. “Brad went above and beyond, providing us with immediate feedback on our [IRS] Form 1023, connecting us to McGuireWoods’ trademark specialists in a time of need, and offering us timely legal counsel whenever we sent questions his way. It’s hard for me to imagine the Armed Services Arts Partnership having a better pro bono experience.”
Ridlehoover was impressed by Pressler’s energy and determination and by the success he had launching the William & Mary Center for Veterans Engagement. The McGuireWoods team applied for tax-exempt status in July and the Internal Revenue Service approved the request earlier this month.
“Sam’s dedication to helping veterans is inspiring,” Ridlehoover said. “It was an honor for us to assist him by incorporating the organization and obtaining IRS recognition as a public charity. I believe the organization will do great things through the efforts led by Sam and his ASAP team. I look forward to continuing our partnership in the future”
McGuireWoods associate Emily Voorheis has also been vital to the firm’s efforts to get ASAP up and running by providing guidance in obtaining trademark protection.