Ducote on bar's Kid's Chance program

Kid’s Chance is a Mississippi Bar charitable organization that offers scholarships to college-aged children whose parents have been killed or seriously injured in a work-related accident. Attorney Andre Ducote is in charge of marketing for the organization.  Ducote is a long-time Northsider and Ole Miss undergraduate and law graduate. Sun Staff Writer Megan Phillips spoke with Ducote about the opportunities Kid’s Chance offers.

 

Tell me about Kid’s Chance.

“Kid’s Chance is a charitable foundation organized and existing under the Mississippi Bar Association. Children 17 through 23 (years old) who have had a parent killed or seriously injured in a work-related accident qualify for the program. College-aged kids receive a monetary scholarship paid directly to the institution they are attending. Technically, all lawyers are over Kid’s Chance. But the applications are received at the bar, and there’s a committee through the bar that hands out scholarships.”

 

When and how did it get started?

“Last year, an organization called the Mississippi Worker’s Compensation Education Association (MWCEA) adopted Kid’s Chance as a charity. What we do is, we help with the marketing of Kid’s Chance… Kid’s Chance is a national organization. There is Kid’s Chance National has been around for a substantial amount of time. Each state has their own, or at least most do. Kid’s Chance Mississippi has been giving out scholarships since 2002.

“Since the 2002-2003 school year, Kid’s Chance Mississippi has handed out $286,750 in scholarship money.”

 

How did you get involved?

“I got involved through my association with the MWCEA, and through the fact that I am a worker’s compensation attorney. I represent claimants, injured workers. So I’ve known about Kid’s Chance as a charitable organization for about seven and a half years. Officially working with Kid’s Chance, it’s been about a year.”

 

What are your responsibilities for Kid’s Chance?

“I am a board member and vice president of the MWCEA. All I’ve agreed to do is market for them, and there are definitely some marketing needs that Kid’s Chance has.”

 

What are those marketing needs?

“One is awareness. If you can imagine, there’s children who may lose a parent in a work-related injury when they’re an infant. When they turn 18, they’ve totally forgotten about things like Kid’s Chance. That’s one area that we want to step up is awareness of people to apply for these scholarships. The other is some fund-raising…”

 

How does Kid’s Chance determine how much scholarship money a student is eligible to receive?

“It’s based on where they’re attending school and the level of schooling that they’re in. For example, somebody who’s attending a two-year junior college would not get the same scholarship amount as somebody attending medical school. It’s based upon need in comparison to level of education and where they’re going.”

 

Is there an expiration or limits on those benefits?

“No. They can apply every year. One recipient went through undergraduate and medical school, getting a scholarship every year. We’ve had somebody go through undergraduate (school) and then to a graduate-level engineering (program), getting a scholarship every year.”

 

On average, how many kids apply for the scholarship each year?

“Last year (2016), we had a large number of applicants. The exact number isn’t given to me. We handed out nine scholarships last year. I would say they average between $3,000 and $5,000 (per scholarship).”

 

Would there be any reason a kid would not be eligible to receive a scholarship?

“Yeah, it’s going to deal with the extent of their parents’ injury. Death is pretty much a given. Where we get into some gray areas is if they receive an award of 75 percent or more of total disability. Basically, if somebody’s parent has been injured at work, but it’s not an injury that’s truly debilitating (that doesn’t keep them from providing for their family) they may not qualify.

“But, they should apply anyway. It doesn’t hurt to apply, and the people who review that information make that decision.”

 

What can other attorneys do if they are involved in the program?

“They can of course inform their clients of the availability of the scholarships. Mediators give a portion of their fee to Kid’s Chance. So attorneys can find out who these mediators are, and they can use them. Kid’s Chance of Mississippi will also take direct contributions.”

 

What is the client’s duty once they have been informed of the scholarship opportunity?

“There is a Mississippi BAR Web site, there is a link to the application, fill it out, send it in to BAR foundation, and there’s a committee that meets in April or May. They award the scholarships.”

 

What is the primary source for the annual budget?

“A good portion of it is through private donations and that includes mediator fees.”

 

Are there any events or fund-raisers Northsiders can participate in or be a part of?

“Not at this time. There are some things on the horizon that we’ve talked about doing. The one event that we do, Kid’s Chance sets up various workers compensation conferences. Every year, the MWCEA hosts a workers compensation conference on the Gulf Coast. It’ll be at the Beau Rivage in April 2018. We’ll have a booth of information, but we also run a silent auction. All the money raised from that goes to Kid’s Chance.”

 

What are some goals for the organization?

“We just started helping them with marketing last year. We’re looking at doing some things in the Jackson area. Our main focus right now is, we know there’s probably more than nine kids out there. They just don’t know about it. So, one of the things we’re pushing towards is getting information to schools. Anybody who wants an informational pamphlet can stop by the Mississippi Worker’s Compensation Commission on Lakeland Drive. There’s informational brochures there. But we’re trying to get those into the hands of schools…”

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