|Slogan||Sowing the Seeds of Justice.|
Appleseed was founded in 1993 by members of Harvard Law School’s class of 1958 at their 35th reunion. Founding member Richard Medalie reported to his classmates:
Members of our Class voted to establish a Class of 1958 sponsored and funded foundation to help organize, establish, and guide state centers for law in the public interest throughout the country. We have called the entity formed to carry on this program Appleseed because our concept is to plant a seed from which a public service activity involving lawyers, young and old, can grow and develop across the country.
From the outset Appleseed was framed around what was then a singular approach to pro bono law. Its strategy was to address issues that lent themselves to system-wide reform rather than the traditional model of providing legal services to individuals with legal problems. While litigation is one tool used by some of the Appleseed Centers, the organization tends to focus on achieving structural changes through market-based reforms, policy analysis and research, legislation, and rule making.
Elizabeth Cavendish is the organization's president. She succeeded Linda Singer, who guided Appleseed for 13 years prior to becoming Attorney General of the District of Columbia. The current co-chairs of the organization's board of directors are Eric Koenig, retired from Microsoft and Susan Haller of Sprint Nextel.
Appleseed’s national office is based in Washington, D.C.
Appleseed helps promote Center work, serves as a clearinghouse of projects, and provides training and technical assistance, particularly in communications, development, project management and board development, as well as in the areas of education, immigration, financial access, health care and hurricane recovery.
Appleseed's 17 Centers function as independent organizations linked to each other and with the national organization. They have achieved enduring accomplishment in areas ranging from children’s welfare, education reform, criminal justice reform, juvenile justice, electoral reform, judicial independence, access to health care, immigrant justice, housing development, teacher recruitment, government accountability, and the integration of environmentalism and community development.
Appleseed currently has Centers in Alabama, Chicago, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawai`i, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Washington and Mexico. In addition, Appleseed projects are on the ground in several other states without Centers.