Join Us as a Unified Giving Partner!

By Niki T. Ingram, President of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation.

At the end of last month, the Philadelphia Bar Foundation teamed up with the Philadelphia Bar Association and the U.S. Attorney’s Office from the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to present a Reentry Simulation as part of the Foundation’s Justice Matters Forum. Those of us who participated in the simulation were able to experience the many challenges and frustrations that people reentering society after imprisonment face. We were exhausted and frustrated by all the problems that we faced in the 90 minutes of simulation. Some even chose to stay in prison after being overwhelmed by the many issues that confronted them. Even though we were all aware what we were doing was a simulation and that the attendant privileges of our lives would resume once the program was over, it was a difficult experience. One of the statistics we learned is that 95% of the population that is currently imprisoned will be released, and 70% of that group will return to incarceration at some point. This exercise reinforced what we know- reentry into society is extremely difficult and so much is required to just get people to a baseline of a “normal life”.

Hosting activities, such as the Reentry Simulation, is one of the many ways in which the Bar Foundation works to better Philadelphia. As we celebrate our 60th anniversary, we are reminded that maintaining justice is a community effort. No one individual, organization or group can manage this task alone. The legal and public interest communities can have such a strong impact on bettering lives when we work together as a united front.

 The Unified Giving program is one of the most important ways the Bar Foundation has been able to partner with the legal community. Firms who commit to the Foundation through Unified Giving allow us to partner with the legal community and host programs such as the Reentry Simulation and allow us to continue to support nearly 40 local nonprofit agencies who are on the frontline of obtaining civil justice for Philadelphians. Our nonprofit partners receive unrestricted grants from the Foundation. We are the single most consistent source of unrestricted annual funding for the civil legal aid and advocacy organizations working in neighborhoods across the city. The work of our nonprofit partners improves the quality of life for tens of thousands throughout our region. Together, we can ensure that everyone in and around Philadelphia understands their rights to equal justice under the law.

Unified Giving does more than provide direct assistance to the Foundation to continue our support to our nonprofit partners. Your firm’s willingness to participate is a statement of your commitment and dedication to justice. The program allows law firms to bring public interest values into fruition. Becoming a Unified Giving partner is a tremendous way to continue your firm’s commitment to having a positive impact in our community and is demonstrative evidence to your employees, your clients, and your colleagues that your organization is a committed citizen of this great city.

We also offer opportunities to businesses to and other organizations to support our work through sponsorships at our annual Access to Justice Awards Celebration which will be held this year on Saturday, November 9 at 2300 Arena. This celebration is a return to our tradition of years past and will be held on a Saturday night. We are looking forward to having as many of you as possible attend, and you will be hearing more about this event in the days and weeks to come.

To the firms who have already joined our United Giving campaign: thank you! We hope that others of you will join this august group, and we look forward to thanking you all in person. If you have any questions about how to join or why you should join, please let me know.

PS- Participating in the simulation reminded me of The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and necessitated a reread. The threads of “voluntary” imprisonment coupled with the growing threats of fascism and antisemitism makes this old story a current story.