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Fall 2015 Bridge the Gap

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Chester County Bar Foundation
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About the Chester County Bar Foundation 

In 1985, a group of highly committed Chester County attorneys recognized a growing gap between the legal system and the citizens it serves. In an effort to re-connect the community with our laws, those lawyers came together to form the Chester County Bar Foundation.

The Foundation's goal, then and now, is to fund initiatives which strengthen the ties between the residents of Chester County and the justice system.

In the new millennium, the Foundation's Board of Directors adopted a new mission, which highlights the role of the Foundation in reaching out to the public in many expanded ways. That mission — to help Chester County citizens understand, gain access to and benefit from our legal system — simply clarifies what has always been the role of the Bar Foundation.

With its focused mission, the Foundation took a giant leap forward in its efforts to raise funds through the Foundation Golf Classic and Art Auction. With the advent of these fundraising events, the Foundation doubled its endowment and increased funding for programs. Programs supported by the Foundation include: Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Law Related Education for Youth program, Elder Law Education programs, Charles E. Swope Scholarship and Matching Grant program, Domestic Violence Center of Chester County, Community Impact Legal Services, and the Crime Victims' Center of Chester County.

Over its history, the Foundation has become a force within the community by helping people of all ages and backgrounds understand the legal process and their rights as citizens of Chester County.

Programs Supported by the Chester County Bar Foundation
Pro Bono / Legal Aid 

Through organizations such as Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the Chester County Bar Foundation directly contributes to organizations aiding the poor of Chester County with free legal representation.

Law Related Education

Since 1988, the Foundation has funded a program where Chester County attorneys donate their time to go into both elementary and secondary classrooms to teach students about the law. In its first 10 years, over 20,000 students have been educated in grades 2 through 12.

People's Law School

Adults frequently find themselves in situations where some knowledge of their rights under the law is essential. The Bar Foundation has historically funded the People's Law School, which educates adults on different areas of the law including wills and estates, business law, family law, real estate law, etc.

The Chester County Elder Law Handbook and Resource Guide

The Bar Foundation, in collaboration with local businesses and foundations, funded The Chester County Guide for Senior Citizens and Their Families. This guide is designed to provide practical advice and solutions to the elderly on a variety of issues including financial planning, housing, estate planning, etc. It is also a resource guide to the multitude of government services available to our increasing elderly population.

The Charles E. Swope Scholarship

The Foundation scholarship was established in 1992 to provide financial assistance for post-high school education in law or law related fields. Scholarship applicants must have demonstrated academic excellence and outstanding community citizenship.

Matching Grant Program

As part of the annual scholarship award, recipients are given the opportunity to help choose a charity to which the Foundation will award a grant that matches the scholarship amount. Groups eligible to receive the grant include Community Impact Legal Services, the Crime Victims' Center of Chester County, Domestic Violence Center of Chester County and Legal Aid of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Access to Justice Program

Many hard working Chester County residents earn too much to qualify for a free Legal Aid lawyer, yet cannot afford the high cost of hiring a private attorney. The members of the Chester County Bar Foundation along with the Chester County Bar Association recognize this challenge and offer a solution with the Access to Justice program. The Chester County Bar Association is the only bar association in the state with this unique program.

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