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Norristown, PA 19404-0268
Phone: 610-994-3667 / Fax: 610-279-4321
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FAQ's

What is the Montgomery Bar Foundation? 

The Montgomery Bar Foundation is the charitable affiliate of the Montgomery Bar Association.   It embodies this legal community’s commitment to justice and fair treatment.  It is organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit so that it can lawfully raise money in order to fulfill this role. 

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What does the Bar Foundation do? 

The Bar Foundation advances the legal community’s commitment to justice and fair treatment by fostering equal access to justice.  Toward this end, we provide financial and other assistance to private, non-profit organizations in Montgomery County that offer free, civil legal assistance to some of the most vulnerable members of our community: children who are victims of abuse and neglect; individuals struggling with poverty, unlawful discrimination and intractable barriers to critical health and human services; seniors threatened with exploitation and abuse; women (and the occasional man) seeking to escape domestic violence.

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Who does the Bar Foundation support?

In 2013, the Bar Foundation distributed nearly $60,000 to the following organizations that advance our mission:  Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania; Laurel House; Women’s Center of Montgomery County; Victim Services Center; Montgomery Child Advocacy Project and Mission Kids.  We are committed to maintaining and increasing our support this year and going forward.   Now, more than ever, our grantees should be able to look to the Bar Foundation as a reliable source of support, the one thing they can count on.
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 Why does the Bar Foundation support these causes?

The Montgomery Bar Foundation is one of the few sources of unrestricted operating support for agencies providing free legal assistance in Montgomery County.  This support enables the provision of a wide array of law-related strategies and services that effectively advance the cause of justice.  These include direct legal representation, pro bono volunteering, advocacy and dispute resolution, as well as education and counseling about legal rights and remedies that seeks to empower and foster effective self-advocacy. 

 

Because our grantees provide services free of charge, they must rely upon private charitable contributions and public funds.  They face many challenges to accomplishing this:

 

  • The base of funding for free legal services for the poor has a limited horizon.  Though an essential counterpart to general health and human services, achieving important societal objectives and contributing to the overall welfare of the community, the preponderance of private philanthropic support is directed to the vast number of religious, educational, arts and cultural institutions and health and human services organizations in this region.  On top of that, public funding for legal services for the poor is dwindling.  

 

  • Chronic understaffing is a fact of life for most non-profits, but in recent years many of our grantees have been forced to make further reductions to both legal and administrative staff.  This implicates their capacity to respond to an ever-growing need.  This problem is not unique to our community.  In fact, in a recent open letter to Pennsylvania attorneys, Justice Castille estimated that a staggering 90 percent of those unable to afford an attorney in civil proceedings are unrepresented and must muddle through on their own.  This statistic does not include the vast number of others unable to secure justice and fair treatment without the assistance of legal counseling and advocacy.  

 

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Why should I contribute to the Bar Foundation, rather than directly to the agencies it supports?

We do not view this as a zero-sum game.  We encourage direct contributions that support the efforts of individual agencies and help them respond to present needs.

 

At the same time, private charitable contributions are an essential source of support for the Bar Foundation’s grants program.  These grants support broader strategies aimed at responding to needs across the board. 

 

Additionally, contributions to the Bar Foundation help achieve long-term goals.  The Bar Foundation manages a fund dedicated to ensuring that support is available into the future.  Toward this end, over the next couple of years we will be devoting significant efforts to grow the fund so that we can continue to increase our support.   Contributions earmarked for the foundation’s permanent fund are an investment in the longevity of civil legal assistance, and should be considered an essential counterpart to supporting the present activities of the Bar Foundation and the individual agencies. 

 

 

 

 

 
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