Bar Foundation Fund (BFF)
Frequently Asked Questions
The Mecklenburg Bar Foundation is a charitable organization (501c3) which has as its mission to advance public understanding and respect for the rule of law and the role of the legal profession; to promote the highest ideals of professionalism, public service and access to the legal system; and to support the goals of the Mecklenburg County Bar.
A: Unrestricted gifts to the Lawyers’ Impact Fund provide grants that support and enhance projects and organizations that have a legal nexus in the greater community as well as support the day-to-day operations of the Foundation. Many of the grants awarded by the Foundation serve organizations that are coping with rising demands for their services coupled with declining revenue sources. Our community’s at-risk populations – children, residents of low-income, immigrants, the unemployed and displaced – benefit greatly from the generosity of our legal profession. The Lawyers’ Impact Fund goal is $125,000.
Q: What if I already give to another legal non-profit?
A: The Foundation respects and appreciates all contributions made that strengthen and support the legal community. The Foundation’s goal is to be the embodiment of legal philanthropy in Mecklenburg County as a fund created by attorneys for attorneys. The Bar Foundation Fund is our way to give back to the community as a Bar. Through the generosity of our individual Bar members, we are able to pool our resources to make the greatest impact and to meet the greatest needs. It is an opportunity to remind the community how much attorneys give back to those around them. And we want you to have the opportunity to be a part of this greater good.
Q: Do Bar dues support the Foundation?
A: No. The Foundation’s projects and initiatives are supported solely by the generosity of our Bar members.
Q: How does the Foundation utilize your gifts to the Lawyers' Impact Fund?
A: With your support of the 2016 Lawyers’ Impact Fund, the Foundation awarded 12 grants totaling $77,500 in 2017 to the following projects/organizations:
• Assistance League of Charlotte: To support its Mecklenburg County Teen Court program. The Teen Court program is an alternative justice system that offers youthful offenders ages 12-17 with no previous convictions an opportunity to avoid a permanent criminal record and take responsibility for their actions before a jury of their peers. The program helps alleviate the large number of cases processed by the Department of Juvenile Justice. Teen Court can currently hear 176 cases each year. In 2015-2016, Teen Court worked with 448 youth offenders. Volunteer teens provided 5,909 hours of community service.
• Council for Children’s Rights: To provide support for CFCR’s legal representation and advocacy services for children in the areas of child welfare, custody, delinquency, mental health, and special education. CFCR defends and champions the rights children to be supported and treated with fairness, compassion, and respect, regardless of personal obstacles. Over 2,000 children in Mecklenburg County receive these specialized services each year.
• GenerationNation: To help support GenerationNation’s project offering teacher professional development, classroom curriculum and afterschool activities to educators and young people about the rule of law, legal issues and the legal system. GenerationNation utilizes hands-on activities and experiences to increase student knowledge and understanding. This project benefits 250 teachers and more than 50,000 students in 150 local schools.
• International House: To help fund the needs of the Ginter Immigration Law Clinic. The Ginter Law Clinic provides affordable general consultation, family immigration, and naturalization services for low income immigrants in Charlotte. In addition, the Clinic provides family reunification assistance to immigrants and refugees who recently arrived in the U.S. and have little to no income. The Clinic serves low-income immigrants, refugees, and asylees who live in the grater Charlotte area and have annual income below 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Over the past few years, the Clinic has seen increased demand for family reunification services. The Clinic expects to open approximately 650 cases for legal representation and 50 family reunification cases in 2017.
• Justice Initiatives: To help fund a research fellowship to conduct and publish the type of research that would be indicative of the work a judicial policy research center would produce in the area of judicial administration. JI is in discussions regarding the creation of a judicial policy research center and plans to have completed the groundwork needed toward institutionalization by FY 2019-20 should the concept be proven.
• Larry King's Clubhouse: To provide direct program-related consumables that are an integral part of a quality childcare program. The Clubhouse provides a safe, secure, and enriching place for children who must be at the courthouse because they are witnesses, they are the subject of child neglect or abuse or custody proceedings, or their parents or guardians have business at the courthouse. The center offers quality care and developmentally appropriate activities for children, age 6 weeks-12 years, on all days that the court is in operation. Children are removed from environments where they might hear inappropriate and psychologically damaging testimony, their families’ access to justice is improved by addressing child care barriers, the efficiency of court operations is increased by removing distracting and disruptive activity, and families are linked to needed community services. The center had 7,620 visits during fiscal year 2016.
• Legal Aid of North Carolina: To help fund a Housing Screener to screen the calls of tenant families seeking assistance when being threatened with eviction with the goal of preventing more homelessness in Mecklenburg County. LANC is a statewide, non-profit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low income people to ensure equal access to justice and to remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. The LANC-Charlotte office receives 20-40 new calls per day from tenants threatened with eviction. The Housing Screener allows LANC to screen more of the callers and accept the apparently meritorious cases, thereby serving more of these families by a combination of staff advocates and pro bono attorneys.
• Legal Services of Southern Piedmont: To support the Access to Justice Pro Bono Program. The program provides high-quality direct legal services to help low income clients meet their most important needs for income, shelter, safety from violence, health care, education of children, fair treatment as consumers, and equitable access to public and private benefits. These services are offered regardless of clients’ race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, or immigration status. The pro bono program has grown dramatically since its inception. Pro bono case handling increased from 166 in 2009 to more than 500 cases in 2016.
• Pat’s Place: To help fund a social worker on the Forensic Interview Team. Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center coordinates the investigation of reports to law enforcement or the Department of Social Services that a child may have experienced sexual abuse, serious physical abuse or neglect, or when a child may have witnessed serious violence or a homicide. The forensics interview is the foundation of child protection and criminal investigations. In many child sexual abuse cases, there is no witness other than the child and often times, there is no corroborating evidence. The interview is a developmentally-sensitive, non-leading conversation with a child that is intended to elicit detailed information about events that the child may have experienced or witnessed, and is conducted by masters-level, clinically licensed social workers who have received advanced training on the forensics interviewing of child victims/witnesses. Pat’s Place serves Mecklenburg County children from birth through age 17. This year, more than 500 interviews were conducted by Center staff, and more than 600 are anticipated in 2016-17.
• Safe Alliance: To help fund the salary for a full-time staff attorney working for their Legal Representation Project (LRP). The LRP provides free legal representation in hearings to obtain Domestic Violence Protective Orders as well as acting as a conduit to allow local attorneys to donate their time to victims. With a staff lawyer, Safe Alliance will be able to continue to represent more victims as well as assist in the training and mentoring of more pro bono attorneys. In fiscal year 2016, LRP provided legal representation to 383 clients, with 142 of those being served by volunteer attorneys.
• MBF’s Professional Assistance Financial Fund: To support five public interest agencies in Mecklenburg County (District Attorney's Office, Public Defender's Office, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, Legal Aid of North Carolina, and Council for Children's Rights) to help offset the financial hardship associated with rising professional development costs for qualifying attorneys.
• MCB Diversity & Inclusion Committee: To support Diversity Day, the annual one-day conference engaging minority students in a discussion about the legal profession and law-related careers. Students hear about the role individuals with legal training play in everyday society, meet with attorneys, judges, law school admissions officers, and law students, and have an opportunity to share their views of the law and lawyers.
Q: May I give my gift in honor or memory of someone?
A: Yes, please indicate what type of gift you would like to make. The individual or family will receive a special letter informing them of your generosity. The amount will not be listed. Your name and the name of the person being honored will be listed in various Mecklenburg County Bar and Mecklenburg Bar Foundation publications.
Q: Are there planned giving options?
A: Yes, the Mecklenburg Bar Foundation can provide information pertaining to planned giving options. Contact Sydney Hammond at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: How will my gift be recognized?
A: BFF donors will be recognized throughout the year:
• In the Mecklenburg Bar News and on the MCB website
• Listing on the event materials throughout the year, including the Law & Society Luncheon & Annual Meeting
• Firms with 100% participation rates will receive additional Bar-wide recognition