Experiencing a natural disaster is a difficult and traumatic experience. In addition to the emotional process of recovery, impacted individuals need to also navigate complex legal processes to repair their homes and replace their belongings.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides support after natural disasters but it can be difficult to navigate the deadlines for different FEMA programs and fulfill all the application requirements in order to successfully receive assistance. As individuals and families begin the recovery process, it’s important they know where to get support and which resources they are eligible to receive. 

CUP collaborated with Pro Bono Net and designer Carmen Rosa Lopez to create Figuring Out FEMA, a pocket-sized guide that breaks down the process of enrolling in FEMA’s Individual Assistance program. It also explains how to appeal FEMA’s decision if you are denied aid or need more assistance and explains your rights when interacting with FEMA.

Pro Bono Net hosted a webinar introducing the guide to different disaster legal aid attorneys and organizations and is distributing the guide across the country through its network of partners.

Resources & Links

Pro Bono Net works to bring the power of the law to all by building cutting-edge digital tools and fostering collaborations with the nation’s leading civil legal organizations.

Carmen Rosa López is a design strategist working to create products and services that have a positive social impact.

Public Access Design projects use design to make complex urban issues accessible to the people most affected by them.

Funding Support

Support for this project was provided by The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and Council Members Brad Lander and Antonio Reynoso.

Special Thanks

Christine Gaspar, Frampton Tolbert, Elijah Bobo, Miranda Grundy, Jade Levine, Sucharitha Yelimeli, Red Hook Initiative, Long Island Cares, Lone Star Legal Aid, Equal Justice Works, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Neighborhood Legal Services of LA, the Alaska Bar association, and all the survivors who provided feedback.


  • CUP
  • Clair Beltran
  • Yasmin Safdié
  • Oscar Nuñez

  • Pro Bono Net
  • Jeanne Ortiz Ortiz
  • Designer
  • Carmen Rosa López


Visualizing Disaster Legal Aid Relief with Figuring out FEMA
  • LexBlog
  • February 04, 2020

Pro Bono Net teamed up with the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), a nonprofit organization that uses the power of design and art to increase meaningful civic engagement, and Carmen Lopez, a designer, to make navigating the Individual Assistance application process easier. Using Pro Bono Net’s advocacy expertise, CUP’s unique method of community-engaged design, and Carmen’s design prowess, our team developed Figuring out FEMA, a pocket guide for people applying to FEMA’s Individual Assistance program.