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Missouri Bar Foundation grants impact lawyers, students, and senior citizens

Earlier this year, the Missouri Bar Foundation Board of Trustees approved four grants to help legal organizations provide expanded civic education resources, lawyer well-being opportunities, statewide training for Legal Aid lawyers, and a handbook for senior citizens with answers to important legal questions.

The charitable partner of The Missouri Bar, the Missouri Bar Foundation promotes improvement in the administration of justice through funding law-related community projects, scholarships for law students, recognition of exemplary legal and public service, and preserving the American constitutional form of government.  Grants recipients were asked to provide updates as to the impact of projects funded by the foundation grants. Highlights from three of those reports are featured here:

Teacher resources benefitting students

The Missouri Bar Citizenship Education Department received $17,000 to revamp its teacher resources available on MissouriLawyersHelp.org . This project aimed to create a catalog of lesson plans, presentations, and classroom materials that would be used to help Missouri teachers instruct their students about the law.  Considering that an individual high school teacher typically teaches more than 100 students a year, each year thousands of students benefit from a better understanding of the law.

The Citizenship Education Department partnered with nine teachers from across Missouri to create robust lesson plans that would inspire students and teachers alike. They group met at The Missouri Bar Center on three separate occasions, working together to create, review, and critique lesson plans. These sessions resulted in 51 lesson plans across six units of American Government.

“It is important that the lessons be accessible to all Missouri teachers,” Dr. Anthony Simones, director of the Citizenship Education Department, states in the grant report to the trustees. “The first two units covering the foundations of government and the United States Constitution are already published with more units planned for release throughout the school year.”

Simones added that to make sure that any teacher could make use of the lesson plans regardless of their school’s software or education level, the plans are easily customizable and accessible via Google Drive. The Missouri Bar Communications Department created a new landing page on MissouriLawyersHelp.org to house links to the lessons. 

Senior Citizens Handbook 21st edition

Legal Services of Eastern Missouri received a $6,000 grant to fund an update of the Senior Citizens Handbook. The Senior Citizens Handbook is a legal resource that helps older Missourians understand their legal rights and responsibilities. The goal for the newest edition is to make the handbook less overwhelming and easier for readers to understand through the support of visual elements.

Handbook chapters are revised by lawyers and reviewed by Health Literacy Media to simplify the language for the average reader. Once a chapter is finished it is then sent to The Missouri Bar who designs, publishes, and distributes the handbook. As of August 2023, more than half of the chapters have been revised and are ready for layout.

Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Conference

The Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Program received a $1,000 grant from The Missouri Bar Foundation to help with expenses from the 2022 Missouri Lawyers’ Assistance Conference, which offered educational opportunities for volunteers and committee members who work with MOLAP. Topics at the hybrid event included lawyer well-being, mental health, substance recovery, related ethics topics, and more.

With a total of 73 participants at the hybrid conference, many of the educational programs were rebroadcast in the following months to reach a broader audience.

For more information about grant opportunities through The Missouri Bar Foundation, click here.