Legal services only work when those who need them most can access them. Only about 20 percent of low-income Philadelphians currently have access to lawyers to navigate high-stakes situations that jeopardize their families, jobs, homes, and lives.
Legal issues rarely exist in a vacuum. And when Philadelphians face issues like domestic violence, wrongful eviction, or denied wage, not only are they left to navigate the legal system alone—but many of the nonprofits that provide legal and social services are spread out across our region. This requires clients to travel to different agencies in different parts of the area, using time, money, and other resources that are already in short supply.
That’s why the Philadelphia Bar Foundation has taken the lead to bring these nonprofits together in one location. The Equal Justice Center is a groundbreaking initiative—the first of its kind in America. Some of the largest nonprofits dedicated to providing free or low-cost legal and social services will coexist, collaborate, and serve together under one roof. No other city has supported its nonprofit legal community this way.
Sage has been working on this project for several years now, generating media attention, writing talking points, developing a website, and assisting in facilitating meetings in the surrounding Chinatown neighborhood. This project has involved delicate negotiations between the Bar Foundation, nonprofits, the builder, and the neighbors. We are in the midst of implementing a strategic communications plan to raise awareness, support, and funds for the project.