The Diversity Scholarship Foundation, NFP (“Foundation”) is a 501(c)(3) organization under the Internal Revenue Code. It was established by a group of attorneys and judges committed to the ideal that diverse law school student bodies are a means of ensuring further diversification in the legal community. Although the Foundation was formally established in March 2008, the Foundation’s mission had its genesis in 2002, when 17 bar association presidents joined together for the first symbolic swearing-in and took an oath to promote the goal of advancing diversity within the Chicago legal community. In subsequent years, the number of participating associations has greatly increased, to where, today, more than 50 associations have joined together to partake in the symbolic swearing-in and pledge to support the increasing need to take concrete steps to diversify the legal community.
One of the premier fundraising events of the Foundation is the annual Unity Award Dinner, which is now in its ninth year. The dinner includes an awards presentation which recognizes the tireless efforts of individuals who have made significant contributions to the legal community and the community at large, including embracing diversity and the ideals diversity represents.
Throughout the plan year, the Foundation offers support to small, medium, and large law firms to become their “diversity partners” and encourages mentoring and recruitment of minority attorneys. As a diversity partner, the Foundation will work hand-in-hand with the leadership of these firms to structure and implement a diversity plan of action beyond mere lip service. The Foundation’s goal is to assist managing partners in removing barriers and opening avenues of opportunity to under-represented groups—opportunities that, at one time, were accessible to only a select few.