UMKC's Truman Fellows Program began with an initial cohort of five first-year attorneys affiliated with law clinics at UMKC. The program — named after President Harry S. Truman, who attended the Kansas City School of Law from 1923 to 1925 — was launched with a $25,000 grant from the Kansas City Regional COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
Fellows provide representation for tenants facing eviction due to hardship connected to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly two years since the work began, they have represented hundreds of Kansas Citians through their Tennant Assistance Initiative. Now, they are one of three legal organizations, including Legal Aid of Western Missouri and the Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom, representing clients as part of Kansas City, Missouris's Right to Counsel Program.
Truman Fellows represent tenants by negotiating with the attorneys representing landlords and, in some cases, the landlords themselves. Together, they navigate the use of the government's COVID assistance funds to settle eviction cases by paying back rent that the tenant owes. Fellows often appear in court on behalf of their clients and have even handled some trials.
In addition to working for the public good, the Truman Fellows program has proven to be a valuable educational tool for new attorneys, providing insight into the legal profession.