The tough economy and budget trimming has caused many school districts to eliminate field trips for students.

The tough economy and budget trimming has caused many school districts to eliminate field trips for students.

To help address that need, the Ohio Judicial Center Foundation has set aside $30,000 for 100 grants between $200 to $400 to help schools defray the transportation costs of visiting the Ohio Judicial Center, the home of the Supreme Court of Ohio, 65 S. Front St., Columbus.

"It's our hope that students who have never been to the Supreme Court will be able to tour the building, including our education center, and learn about the judiciary through this program," said Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor in a written statement.

"We, the foundation, felt very strongly it was worth spending money to help kids get (to the center) and we know with what happened in our economy, that travel expenses are the first subject of cuts," said Michael Ball, foundation chair.

The foundation on Aug. 23 announced it will accept applications for field trips for the 2011-12 school year between Sept. 1-15. The grant applications must be submitted online by authorized teachers and school administrators. Grant recipients will be notified after Sept. 15. Grants will be awarded to schools with the highest percentage of students enrolled in the free- and reduced-cost lunch program.

"The foundation board believed in setting up this program so schools with the most need could afford a trip to Columbus," said Ball, in a press release. "We felt it was important that all children have the opportunity to experience first-hand the Ohio Judicial Center, its rich history, its visitor education center and the workings of our judiciary at the state's highest level."

"When the court is not in session, a guide shares stories depicted in the various murals around the room that tell of Ohio's road to statehood and beyond," said Julie Manning of the Civic Education Section of the center. "Students also hear about the court itself and have a chance to ask questions. When court is in session, students can actually watch oral arguments live."

Along with information about the Supreme Court, Ball said there are many wonderful items to see at the center, including portraits of the Tuskegee Airmen, photographs of Ohio's county courthouses, two sculptures by Dale Chihuly, a permanent collection of works by Ohio artists and rotating art on loan from Columbus Museum of Art.

"The foundation (in its second year) came about as a result of the former Chief Justice Thomas Moyer's vision for what the education center at the Ohio Judicial Center could be," said Ball. "He felt strongly about the importance of educating young people about the role that law plays in all of our lives."

It was created after Moyer's death in April 2010.

The first donations to the foundation came from friends and colleagues of the court and the former chief justice, Ball said.

"This spring, we were fortunate to receive an anonymous private grant, allowing us to really carry forward with the former chief justice's wishes to touch as many kids' lives as we possibly can," Ball said.

For more information, call (614) 387-9223 or email courttours@ sc.ohio.gov.