Barnes & Thornburg launches foundation to promote racial justice

Saying it is time to do more than talk, Barnes & Thornburg attorneys and staff are taking an active role in promoting equity by forming a nonprofit and, so far, contributing $200,000 to support charities focused on racial justice in their local communities, including Indianapolis.

The law firm has launched the Barnes & Thornburg Racial and Social Justice Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. With financial support entirely through personal donations from the firm’s lawyers and staff, the foundation has the mission of promoting, advocating and addressing racial and social justice in the cities and towns where the firm has offices.

“It’s time to not just speak out against racial and social injustices but to translate those words into meaningful and tangible actions and commitments,” said Connie Lahn, the Racial and Social Justice Foundation president and managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg’s Minneapolis office. “As we reach the end of this challenging year, we’re proud to have put a stake in the ground and we look forward to working with the amazing nonprofits we’ve selected.”

To start, four nonprofits have received $50,000 grants each in Barnes’ markets of Indianapolis, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Minneapolis. The firm is planning to add nonprofits and markets as the foundation grows. Also, attorneys and staff will contribute their time and professional experience in support of the organizations.

In Indianapolis, Public Advocates in Community re-Entry (PACE) received one of the grants from the Barnes Foundation. PACE provides transitional and prerelease services for incarcerated or just-released individuals and their families.

“We believe that everyone deserves a second chance and has the ability to be a positive contributor to their community,” said Brian Burdick, managing partner of Barnes & Thornburg’s Indianapolis office. He noted PACE clients have a recidivism rate of less than 5%.

“This donation to PACE is aimed at strengthening its long-standing efforts in successfully confronting the institutional, racial and social injustices that challenge these journeys,” Burdick said.

Partnering with employers across Indianapolis, PACE helps its clients receive skills training and access resources to make them competitive candidates for available jobs. In addition, the nonprofit provides assistance with family reunification, transitional housing, substance use disorder, mental health treatment and education.

“We are humbled and grateful for the contribution from Barnes & Thornburg, especially amid this trying year for so many in our community,” said Rhiannon Edwards, PACE executive director. “This donation will have an immediate impact, providing skills training and support services for dozen of our clients in Indianapolis.”

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