Hundreds of Thousands in Funds Awarded in the Philadelphia Bar Foundation 2017 Grant Cycle

  • (L-R front row) PLSE Paralegal Jim Coyne, PLSE Managing Attorney Zane Johnson, Philadelphia Bar Foundation Executive Director Jessica Hilburn-Holmes, and Legislative Director of Philadelphia District Attorney Michael Lee. (Back row) PLSE Interim Executive Director Tobey Oxholm, PLSE Board Chair Ryan Allen Hancock, PLSE Communications & Outreach Coordinator Katherine Zuk.

Philadelphia Bar Foundation Posts Largest Grant Distribution Increase in Nearly a Decade

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (February 2018) – The Philadelphia Bar Foundation broadened their scope of support for the legal aid community with a 22 percent increase in grants awarded to nearly 40 Philadelphia legal aid non-profit partners in 2017 totaling $556,550.
Grants are a fundamental part of the Bar Foundation’s comprehensive access to justice work which strengthens the delivery of civil legal aid. Bar Foundation grants are one of the few sources of unrestricted operating support for legal services agencies in Philadelphia that provide access to free or low-cost legal services via staff-based legal assistance, or to agencies that recruit, train, and support volunteer attorneys, or who provide education on legal matters in the public interest.

"The Bar Foundation is in a unique position to identify sector-wide needs and marshal the resources to address issues in effective and timely ways,” says Thomas A. Brophy, Esq., president of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation and president emeritus of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C. “We are extremely appreciative of the individuals, law firms and businesses that provided financial donations to the Bar Foundation in 2017, and we intend to continue to work on behalf of all Philadelphians to eliminate the access to justice gap.”

Year to year, the amount of grants provided by the Bar Foundation fluctuates for a number of reasons, most notably due to “Cy Pres,” the disposition of residual funds from class action settlements. Cy Pres is an unfixed source of funding that can occur at any time. Previously, the Bar Foundation recorded its largest grant allocation increase of 20 percent from 2010 to 2011 and its largest historical increase of 60 percent from 1997 to 1998.

An independently operating, charitable 501(c)(3) organization, the Bar Foundation has raised millions to provide annual grants and other support for legal aid agencies. In 2017, Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE), was added to their grant recipient list, increasing the total amount of Bar Foundation non-profit partners to 39. PLSE was founded by four civil rights lawyers to construct an alternative legal service model for low-income individuals affected by criminal records.

The Philadelphia Bar Foundation is dedicated to promoting access to justice for all people in the community, particularly those struggling with poverty, abuse, and discrimination. We accomplish this mission by providing grants and technical assistance in support of quality legal services, addressing unmet legal needs and providing education on matters in the public interest. Through our various programs, services and partnerships, we remove barriers to justice, engage the community to support legal aid, and build system-wide capacity. www.philabarfoundation.org

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