My three-year-old has taken hostage all forms of digital entertainment—television, tablet, laptop, iPhone—and has threatened a complete and total meltdown unless each of these devices plays The LEGO Movie. All The Time. On repeat. Forever.
It is my strongly held parental belief to never negotiate with a “threenager.” But, who am I kidding? As a result, a parasitic earworm has slowly crept into my every waking thought: Everything is AWESOME!!! This infectious magnum opus of Canadian-pop in friendly-hipster clothing has been with me for weeks. As it tumbles around in my brain, I have come to realize that there is more going on than an ingenious lyric about the importance of “smellin’ like a blossom.” In between the “bouncy springs” and “dogs with fleas,” there is a message about teamwork, collective ambition, community focus, working in harmony to achieve something bigger than ourselves, and standing side by side so we can “win forever.” In other words, Everything is AWESOME!!! is really about what the Indianapolis Bar Foundation (IBF) does every day—advance justice and lead positive change in our community through philanthropy, education, and service. And, yes, that work is awesome!
In the past two years alone, IBF dollars have allowed more than 1,800 of our neighbors to have access to a lawyer free of charge. More than 500 IndyBar members responded by donating over 1,800 hours of pro bono service through programs funded exclusively by the IBF. Indeed, solely because of IBF contributions, we are able to provide many essential community programs, including legal consultation and referral services through the bi-annual Ask a Lawyer and monthly Legal Line programs, legal advice and representation at area homeless shelters via the Homeless Project, end of life planning and representation through the Hospice and Low Asset Wills programs, and family law representation when those in need are conflicted out of representation by other legal service providers.
In 2015, the IBF continued its long history of philanthropy by awarding an Impact Fund grant of $35,000 to the Peace Learning Center (PLC). With the grant, PLC is implementing its new One Indy Campaign—a partnership with four Indianapolis Public Schools that serve six of the Department of Public Safety’s focus neighborhoods to break the school to prison pipeline.
Among other key components, the One Indy Campaign has already worked with more than 1,000 students, parents and teachers to train students as peer mediators, lead restorative justice circles and educate teachers and staff about restorative justice practices as a viable and effective alternative to punitive disciplinary practices. In 2016, the IBF will offer numerous hands-on volunteer opportunities with PLC so that the Indy legal community can positively impact this growing initiative.
The IBF also continues to enhance its impact on legal education and professional development through multiple scholarships. In the next few weeks, the IBF will award over $8,000 in scholarships to law students to defer the cost of tuition and attend IndyBar Review courses. We will also award nearly $1,000 to legal professionals to attend the annual IndyBar Bench Bar Conference. These scholarships not only make legal educational and professional development more accessible, but they honor the legacies of Rosie Felton (former Executive Director of the Indianapolis Bar Association and Foundation); Judges Noland, Steckler, and Dillin; and Neil Shook.
Many IBF supporters and IndyBar members also routinely take advantage of numerous service projects coordinated and/or supported by the foundation. IBF Distinguished Fellows participate in service projects with Gleaner’s Food Bank and Ronald McDo nald House. Our colleagues participate in continuing legal education and pro bono programs with our past Impact Fund recipients, including the Joseph Maley Foundation and the Military Assistance Project of Indiana Legal Services. Numerous members represent the legal community at naturalization ceremonies. And, the IBF makes major contributions to the IndyBar Diversity Job Fair and IndyBar Bench Bar Conference.
We are lucky that the Indianapolis legal community embodies values that make our profession not only successful, but truly meaningful to our city. Indeed, with the support of your volunteerism and donations, the IBF has made a positive impact in Indianapolis for nearly 50 years. In 2015, we exceeded our fundraising goal by more than 10 percent, and we are on track to do so yet again in 2016. Please join us in making it a successful year, whether by volunteering through an IBF-sponsored initiative or making a donation. Together, we truly can make an impact.
How awesome is that!?•