The Virgil Hawkins Justice Foundation was created to promote diversity and awareness in the Florida legal landscape by recognizing the contributions of diverse members and encouraging future members of the Bar.
The Foundation provides financial and mentoring support to minority law students, many of whom are either first generation or from single-parent households with limited resources. The financial support includes assistance with legal education by providing scholarships or bar preparation by sponsoring bar preparation courses. The Foundation has chosen to support Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter National Bar Association with the historical book projects chronicling African American lawyers. The Foundation distributed the first volume of the history book, Living Legends, to public, charter, and law libraries as well as museums statewide to provide an educational resource for Floridians to learn about the rich diversity of Florida’s legal profession.
The Foundation realizes that our programs are, at best, a catalyst. The organizational beneficiaries of our assistance do the real work of change and are usually the best source of ideas for new program initiatives. We often engage our beneficiaries as partners to ensure the resources directed at the target population. We follow-up with past beneficiaries to keep them engaged to share with others who may have had the same challenges.
In 2009, the Foundation partnered successfully with the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter National Bar Association to recognize the first African American lawyers barred in Florida from 1869-1979. The Foundation also hosted a historical Gala that welcomed more than 500 lawyers, judges, and friends to honor the Living Legends.
In 2010 and 2011, the Foundation partnered with the Kozyak Minority Mentoring Picnic. Utilizing the Kozyak tent, the Foundation talked to law students about scholarship opportunities and distributed scholarship applications to law students.
In 2015, the Foundation partnered with Kozyak Minority Mentoring Picnic to select the law students that would receive the Foundation’s bar courses.
In 2018, the Foundation will partner with VHFCNBA again to recognize the Trailblazers, the more than 391 African American lawyers admitted to The Florida Bar from 1980-1989. We will host a Gala in their honor on June 16, 2018. Please go to virgilhawkinsfcnba.org to purchase tickets and tables.
To execute the scholarship distribution, the Foundation will partner with entities that support programs consistent with the Foundation’s mission.
To best utilize limited resources, the Foundation must continue partnering with others who share the core values of diversity and education. We will consistently evaluate and seek input from our supporters to help us identify more effective ways to execute our programming.