Imagine a young man at the top of his high school class, preparing to be the first in his family to attend college. Because of his father's sudden illness, the young man has to suspend his education to support his family. Envision a young immigrant from an impoverished country who masters the English language, achieves American citizenship, and becomes the first in her family to graduate high school. Consider a pregnant, destitute teenager who chooses to raise her child and finish school, as a single mother. These stories impart only a glimpse of the applicants and scholars the Dallas Bar Foundation has considered since the Foundation began funding the Sarah T. Hughes Diversity Scholarships. Since 1981, the Foundation has funded over forty full tuition scholarships, allowing outstanding minority law students to attend the SMU Dedman School Law and complete a legal education many would have thought beyond reach. Inspiring Hughes Scholars have distinguished themselves academically and professionally and include leaders in our legal and civic community.
While the Hughes Scholarships represent one of the Foundation's signature programs, the program was not the beginning nor is it the end. Founded in 1971 as the charitable arm of the Dallas Bar Association, the Foundation's first project was to purchase and restore the old Belo Mansion as the headquarters for the Dallas Bar Association and the Foundation. Since then, the Foundation has provided nearly $4 million in financial support for law related scholarships and education, charitable and legal aid for the poor, and historic preservation.
Funding for Foundation grants is generated through a check off from the Dallas Bar Association membership dues, contributions, interest on investments, and dues from the Fellows of the Foundation. The Fellows of the Foundation is a group organized in 1991 to support the mission of the Foundation and to raise revenue for grants. Election to be a Fellow is evidence of professional distinction and constitutes a professional honor. The Dallas Bar Foundation Fellows include hundreds of outstanding lawyers in Dallas committed to making our community a better place for all.
Through our new web portal launched in the fall of 2009, we are hoping to spread the Foundation's message and the profound effect of our grants in helping to change lives and enrich our Dallas community. Total grants are nearing $4 million and we encourage you to visit the grant section of our web site to explore this pivotal support for so many. In addition to the Hughes Scholarships, Foundation grants have included Collins Clerkships, six-week minority clerkships allowing law students to work with judges and government officials; L.A. Bedford, Jr. Scholarships, law school review courses to help enhance LSAT scores for aspiring minority law students; many Dallas Bar Association Programs and Initiatives designed to educate and mentor high school and law school students; and grants too numerous to describe here that have benefitted legal aid to the poor and other community projects.
The Foundation exists because of the extraordinary work and generosity of Dallas lawyers. I have had the honor and privilege of getting to know and working with amazing Foundation Heroes, including Collins Clerks and Hughes Scholars, and I thank all who have allowed me to share in their journeys. We ask that you help share our stories so the Foundation's mission continues to shape a better Dallas for all. Suffice to say, it's about the People.
Justice, Fifth District Court of Appeals
600 Commerce Street #200
Dallas, TX 75202