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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 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 who provide those less fortunate in Chester County with free legal representation.
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 and the Chester County Bar Association recognize this challenge and offer a solution with the Access to Justice program. This program provides free legal services to the working poor in Chester County and is the only program of its kind throughout the state of Pennsylvania.
Law Related Education
People's Law School
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. Over the past 25+ years, over 45,000 students have been educated in various areas of law in grades 2 through 12.
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 and real estate law.
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.