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December 11, 2007

Public Interest Groups Get Early Holiday Gift: More Than $500K from the Bar Foundation

Thirty-one groups that provide legal services to the disadvantaged in our community are getting an early holiday gift from the Philadelphia Bar Foundation this week as the Foundation distributes a record $550,000. This figure does not include the more than $100,000 in other types of fellowships, grants and support that the Bar Foundation has already made in 2007.

This year's grants from the charitable arm of the Philadelphia Bar Association represent nearly a 40 percent increase over last year. Most of the money is raised from or through Philadelphia lawyers and law firms, aided by the generosity of the businesses that serve the legal community, and helps needy Philadelphians who are seeking legal assistance.

The grants this year show a continued growth in the impact that the Philadelphia Bar Foundation is making for legal services in Philadelphia. Just five years ago, the Bar Foundation gave out a total of $280,000. During the last five years, the Philadelphia Bar Foundation has also worked to grow its endowment from $2.6 million in 2002 to more than $5.6 million today. The income from the endowment funds grantmaking today and for the future.

The grants vary in size from $3,000 to $125,000 and include groups that provide legal services to abused women and children, the homeless, the mentally and physically disabled, the elderly and others who need but cannot afford legal help. Some of the grants will actually help ensure the survival of local law-related public interest agencies. Among the groups receiving grants are: Community Legal Services, Inc., Education Law Center, HIAS and Council Migration Service, Homeless Advocacy Project, Legal Clinic for the Disabled, Inc., Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program, SeniorLAW Center, and Support Center for Child Advocates.

Bar Foundation President Elaine M. Rinaldi of Cozen O’Connor thanked all those who helped to increase the Foundation's grant making in 2007 and added: "The Philadelphia Bar Foundation has one goal: to work to provide access to justice for vulnerable segments of our population. We’ve made significant progress this year, but we have a vigorous long-range agenda and much more to accomplish. We’re encouraged as we look forward."

Currently, 109 Philadelphia-area law firms have renewed their pledge to the "Raising the Bar" campaign. This effort was launched last year. The 2007 "Raising the Bar" campaign, begun in January, asks every law firm in Philadelphia to pledge a minimum of $300 per lawyer to public interest and other legal services organizations. In 2006 — the campaign’s inaugural year — 133 firms contributed nearly $1.5 million, a 31 percent increase over the amount that firms donated individually in 2005.

Go to the Bar Foundation Web site for more information, including grant applications and criteria. For more information, contact Maureen Mingey, Executive Director of the Foundation, at

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