Philadelphia Eagles News

The Philadelphia Bar Foundation aims to use enhanced technology in the fight for social justice

The Eagles continue to support nonprofits that work to reduce barriers to opportunity and end racism. In support of Black History Month, the Eagles are proud to recognize the work of one of these nonprofits each day.

The Philadelphia Bar Foundation received $25,000 in grant funding from the Eagles Social Justice Fund in 2019 to help build the Equal Justice Center. Groundbreaking at the site was slated for July 2020, but the pandemic prevented the Bar Foundation from moving into the building at 8th and Race Streets.

While the Bar Foundation remains committed to securing a physical location in the future, it pivoted to more programmatic virtual work. According to the Foundation's 2021 initiatives, it will do so by actively pursuing four initiatives:

1. Assessing the data processes (and related technologies) of the current legal aid and social service providers to identify areas of improvement and to be able to move forward collaboratively to develop a virtual centralized intake and referral network.

2. Exploring the development and deployment of community-based justice navigators (volunteers or para-professionals trained by legal aid and social service practitioners) who can assist members of the community in accessing resources and accurate, up-to-date information. If necessary, they will refer visitors to appropriate service providers of social, legal, or health services.

3. Partnering with area law schools and funders to launch a legal incubator that would accept an annual cohort of new lawyers and train them in the practice of law. Initially, such incubator lawyers might focus on serving the needs of small/micro businesses in Philadelphia (the majority of whom are immigrant and/or minority-owned). Ultimately, the more general goal is to have the incubator lawyers supplement civil legal aid partners' work and improve access to justice for low- and lower-middle-income Philadelphians.

4. Examining the feasibility, design, and launch of mobile units to bring social and legal services (and internet connectivity) into neighborhoods – much like book- and bloodmobiles.

Simultaneously, the Bar Foundation, inspired by the racial injustice movement of 2020, also looked to be more "deliberate about centering racial justice at the core" of its work.

"Critical initiatives are underway to explore and develop technology and community-based programs to enhance collaboration and streamline information and service delivery," said Laura Powers, the Philadelphia Bar Foundation's director of development and communications. "Through collective investment in technologies and systems, we will be able to increase our capacity to deliver services. We will make it easier for Philadelphians to get the legal help they deserve."

"This project's promise is rooted in its potential for collaboration, innovation, and accelerated community impact. The need for enhanced civil legal aid services and the Bar Foundation's commitment to integrated service delivery remain the same during these challenging times. The Equal Justice Center symbolizes our community's collective strength, and the grant a meaningful difference to everyone who worked so hard on its development," she added.

Learn more about the Philadelphia Bar Foundation and the Equal Justice Center:

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