Pillsbury has announced an investment of at least $11 million over the next three years to fight racial injustice and advance civil rights. The commitment is comprised of $1 million in funding from the Pillsbury Foundation and an additional $10 million, at minimum, in new pro bono legal and other volunteer services.
“Over these past few weeks, the Pillsbury community has come together to listen to and support one another, and commit to doing better,” said firm chair David Dekker. “After gathering input from a diverse cross-section of our firm, it is clear that only a sustained commitment of this magnitude will enable us to have the desired impact.”
Partnering with community organizations, clients and alumni, the firm will initially focus its efforts on four key areas: 1) improving and reforming criminal justice, 2) increasing access and opportunity for Black-owned startups and other businesses, 3) building societal equity through mentorship, education and pipeline programs, and 4) ensuring full representation for Black Americans in Washington.
This initiative will include opportunities for both lawyers and staff to contribute, with several pro bono and volunteer activities already underway. Initial projects will include grassroots efforts to encourage 2020 Census participation amongst communities of color; a partnership with the DC Lawyers’ Committee in litigation challenging the use of gang databases by law enforcement; the launch of a Pillsbury program dedicated to the support of Black-owned startups; a partnership with the Innocence Project to prevent and correct wrongful convictions; and a number of potential client partnerships focused on criminal justice.
More projects are currently being identified by the firm’s newly formed Equal Justice Task Force. And, in addition to supporting community organizations fighting racial injustice directly, funding from the Pillsbury Foundation will also be used to match employee contributions to the Equal Justice Initiative, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Urban League, and The Bail Project among others. The firm will also continue its financial support for the Equal Justice Works Fellowship Program, which Pillsbury has funded for 20 years.
“It was readily apparent to me and all of our firm leaders that we could do something really impactful and sustainable, and that our people were passionate about our doing so,” said Stacie Yee, Pillsbury’s Executive Partner for Diversity & Inclusion. “It’s no secret that law firms have work to do when it comes to parity and inclusion. This commitment to our communities is in addition to our commitment to improving the recruiting, mentoring, advancement and retention of our diverse attorneys and staff across our platform.”
The $11 million commitment is in addition to the Firm’s ongoing and varied charitable and pro bono activities across our communities, which have included important pro bono victories and support for community programs focused on individuals and groups under-represented and marginalized in our society.