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Whose rights? Our rights! How philanthropy can boost the progressive legal movement

A radically conservative Supreme Court has shaken the country by stripping away long-settled rights and overturning legal precedent. This didn’t happen overnight. What is happening is the result of a decades-long campaign by the conservative legal movement to build a well-resourced network of lawyers, law professors, and judges. And now they are reaping the fruits of their labor. Can the conservative legal movement be stopped? 

It is possible, but only if philanthropy’s efforts elevate legal activists working on the frontlines of change, fund innovative models of lawyering that empower directly impacted communities, and promote BIPOC attorneys into positions of power. There is no single-point solution to the legal crisis our country is facing. But what is crystal clear is that solutions need to be generated for the long-term and must be rooted in the lived experiences of directly impacted communities, including women, BIPOC, youth, LGBTQ+ communities, and so many others outside the seat of power.  

California ChangeLawyers (formerly the California Bar Foundation) has launched a new Legal Empowerment Fund in December 2021 that is tackling these issues head-on. With priorities on movement lawyering, capacity building, and leadership pathways, the Fund is a starting point for further investigation into models of social change through the law. 

If your foundation has never funded legal issues before, this program will introduce some new innovations that may align with your strategy. If you do currently fund legal issues, come learn about the latest trends including why it’s important to support BIPOC communities in law. 

Northern California Grantmakers, Van Loben Sels/Rembe Rock Foundation, and ChangeLawyers are pleased to invite you to an informational session on the Fund and other California-focused efforts aimed at building confidence that the legal system can truly be fair and just for all. The session will center on an expert panel made up of Gail Howard, Director of the Judicial Internship Opportunity Program of the American Bar Association; Jennifer Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Youth Law Center; and will be facilitated by Christopher Punongbayan, Executive Director of ChangeLawyers.

Irma Herrera

Board Member

Gail Howard


Christopher Punongbayan

Executive Director

Jennifer Rodriguez

Executive Director
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California Criminal Justice Central Valley Funders Convening

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Philanthropy California Grant Writing Training #2