LFL is one of the Palm Beach County Bar Association’s most popular committees. Attorneys have been involved with the Coalition since its inception and even before the bar association created its LFL committee, because several lawyers served (and still serve) on the Coalition’s board of directors. In fact, a lawyer on the Coalition board first introduced the Coalition to the LFL concept by bringing a bar association brochure on the committee to a board meeting. This piqued board members’ interest, and they decided to approach the bar association to form a partnership.
The Coalition board saw this as a good opportunity to reach out to more than 2,000 attorneys in the county and connect them with volunteer and other literacy activities. At the same time, they hoped that partnering with the bar association would raise the community’s awareness about literacy. Three years after the partnership was formed, the Coalition developed a how-to guide on forming a Lawyers for Literacy committee, with subsequent continued support and dedication of the LFL.
LFL connects attorneys with literacy events and volunteer opportunities through the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County. The committee supports the Coalition through in-kind and financial contributions, as well as with volunteers. Committee members recruit colleagues at their firms to field teams for the communitywide spelling bee and buy tables at the annual Love of Literacy fund-raising luncheon, which raises support for the Coalition's literacy activities. Attorneys participate in book discussions for Read Together Palm Beach County, during which the entire community is encouraged to read the same book at the same time, and visit adult education classrooms on International Reading Day. Usually attorneys go in pairs to speak with adult learners and spend considerable time talking and answering questions about their legal careers. They discuss how literacy is essential to their jobs and encourage learners to continue their education and training.
LFL committee member Philip DiComo, an attorney at Haile, Shaw, & Pfaffenberger, has no trouble recruiting his colleagues to volunteer or attend Coalition events. “Once someone has [volunteered with the Coalition] once, they generally want to do it again because it’s so personally rewarding,” he says.
Partner with a literacy coalition.
"One of the things that makes it is easy to support literacy [in Palm Beach County] is that the [Palm Beach County Literacy] Coalition is a good group. It’s well respected in the community and has a great leader."
Occasionally, LFL will adopt an individual elementary school, but usually the attorneys work exclusively with the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County (the Coalition). The Coalition brings together every literacy program in the community, making it easy for groups like Lawyers for Literacy to become involved. In addition to attending events and raising funds for the Coalition, attorneys participate in the Coalition’s regular volunteer opportunities. For example, some lawyers choose to volunteer as tutors for adult learners and receive tutor training through the Coalition.
One advantage of a partnership with a literacy coalition, according to Philip DiComo of Haile, Shaw & Pfaffenberger, is that the Coalition does the hard work of identifying literacy needs in the community, connecting volunteers to the projects most in need, and determining how best to distribute resources and funds to the various providers. By doing so, the Coalition provides a single point of contact for an extensive network of literacy and education organizations.
Connect with literacy organizations through a professional association.
Both the individual attorneys and the Lawyers for Literacy (LFL) committee benefit from their partnership with the Palm Beach Bar Association. Attorneys have an opportunity to connect with their local bar association and serve on one of its many committees. At the same time, LFL “gives lawyers the ability to connect with the cause, to get together and provide support for the Coalition itself … beyond just writing a check,” according to Palm Beach County attorney Philip DiComo. And the committee benefits by piggybacking on the bar association’s existing resources for communications, recruitment, and dissemination. For example, the bar association sends out an annual invitation for committee membership to all attorney members, which is how many join Lawyers for Literacy. The association also regularly highlights LFL in its newsletters and email updates.
Give what you can.
Attorneys determine their own levels of involvement in Lawyers for Literacy and Coalition events. Some attorneys participate in committee work to plan its involvement in literacy activities or attend events sponsored by the committee. Others may tutor on a one-on-one basis, while still others contribute by planning and staffing events. LFL makes it easy for attorneys to support literacy, especially given their heavy workloads and busy schedules. Recently, for example, LFL hosted a preliminary spelling bee to assemble a team for the Coalition’s annual Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee and to raise funds for literacy. An entrance fee of $30 included dinner and entertainment, and all proceeds went directly to support literacy programs. As DiComo says, “The Coalition offers enough things to do so that, if you only have an hour, you can volunteer for an hour. If you have 20 hours, you can give 20 hours.”
Benefits to Business
"There are two motivating factors for participating in [Lawyers for Literacy] or any group: the firm’s interest in doing good in the community and the firm’s interest in generating business."
Some benefits to the Palm Beach Bar Association and individual attorneys of their partnership with the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County include:
Benefits to Adult Education
"[These activities] help to acquaint lawyers, who labor throughout the community, with literacy needs and resources. I think this helps ultimately to raise literacy to a higher spot on the community’s agenda."
Some benefits to the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County of its partnership with Lawyers for Literacy include:
The following resource has been compiled for further reading on topics related to business-adult education partnerships. A pop-up window with a link to and description of the resource will appear as you click on the title. Resources may be categorized below as: Business Partnerships (descriptions of the business-adult education partnerships referenced above); Partnership Profiles (related examples of other community partnerships); How-Tos (guides and tools for establishing partnerships); Research; the Case for Business Involvement; and Web Sites. A complete list of resources related to business-adult education partnerships is found in the Workforce Issues section on the C-PAL Web site.
Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County