08:52 AM

How the Missouri Bar Foundation helps people

The Missouri Bar Foundation is a nonprofit partner of The Missouri Bar with a mission to promote improvement in the administration of justice, as well as encouraging and funding law-related endeavors, recognizing legal and public service, and supporting scholarships and community projects. Below is an overview of various projects the foundation funded in 2021-22 to help the people of Missouri.

American Legion Missouri Boys and Girls State

Missouri Boys and Girls State are programs founded in 1938 and 1940, respectively, to provide high school students with an appreciation and knowledge of democratic principles. Each year, 1,000 young men and 800 young women attend these week-long programs focusing on democracy, citizenship, and civic engagement.

The programs are held in June at the University of Central Missouri, featuring a total immersion into the democratic process. Students are divided into cities, counties, and political parties and run for governmental and political positions that mirror the real world. The foundation’s grant helped underwrite the cost of law school faculty and print the numerous forms, booklets, manuals, and other instructional materials provided to the participants in these programs.

Legal Aid of Western Missouri

In 2021, for low-income individuals, the rise in COVID-19 related unemployment led to a housing crisis. The home mortgage delinquency rate, historically 1-2%, increased to more than 8% - the highest rate since the Great Recession. Eviction rates also skyrocketed. Between January 1 and July 31, 2021, 128 housing law cases were resolved, with 50 more pending completion. Another 200-225 housing law case applications are anticipated by year's end.

On behalf of all four legal aid organizations in Missouri, Legal Aid of Western Missouri applied for and received two successive grants to identify and provide specific legal assistance to individuals facing homelessness. The four legal aid programs in Missouri continue to partner with other community agencies that serve low-income individuals to identify those at risk of becoming homeless and provide direct legal aid such as letters of counsel and advice, legal consultation and representation, and court filings and appearances.

Missouri Coalition for the Right to Counsel

Missouri Coalition for the Right to Counsel (MCRC) submitted a request for two years of funding to underwrite five fellowships awarded to graduates with a master’s degree in social work who commit to one year of service at Catholic Legal Assistance Ministries (CLAM), an agency of Catholic Charities; and one year of service with the Missouri State Public Defender (MSPD) system through the MCRC.

Clients meeting the threshold of a need for a public defender experience a myriad of intersecting issues - poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, mental illness, and more. Social workers have developed and been trained with the skills to identify, engage with, and provide community referrals to individuals with needs beyond legal assistance. By providing these services in conjunction with lawyers, social workers in public defender and legal assistance offices can assist with a client’s immediate needs, provide empathetic communication skills to develop a strong relationship with clients, and gather life history information for mitigation at sentencing.

The Missouri Bar Citizenship Education Department’s Summer Institute

The Summer Institute annually provides education and training to teachers from public, parochial, and private schools across the state on the latest developments in constitutional law, as well as methodologies that promote an interactive learning environment and critical thinking among students.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the institute was held virtually hosting 24 teachers, representing every part of Missouri, from small as well as large schools, with rural and urban student populations benefitting from this teacher-focused training.

Additionally, The Missouri Bar Citizenship Education Department provides training and resources throughout the state to teachers, community groups, and individuals. Funds provided by The Missouri Bar Foundation support the development of programs, the distribution of materials, and the ongoing education of the public in civics.

The Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation’s Student Law Academy

This grant facilitated the creation of a pre-law fellowship that aids scholars of the KCMBA Student Law Academy (SLA) to be admitted to the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law and, ultimately, become licensed Missouri lawyers. The SLA provides under-served high school students with meaningful exposure to careers in the legal profession and a broad overview of the legal system. The fellowship provides funds to graduates of the high school SLA program for LSAT fees and law school application expenses. Participation in the fellowship will also include lawyer mentors, LSAT and 1L preparation courses, application assistance, interview preparation, letters of recommendation, and networking opportunities.

How you can help

Your support is vital to The Missouri Bar Foundation’s ability to serve as a source of financial assistance for essential projects like these. To learn how you can help Missourians through support of the foundation, click here.