As a lasting contribution to at-risk youth nationwide, Akerman LLP, a top 100 U.S. law firm serving clients and communities across the Americas, has intensified its philanthropic and pro bono legal efforts with a $1 million pledge to the National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association. The donation, dedicated to benefit current and former foster youth, is the largest donation CASA has ever received from a law firm and one of the greatest sustained commitments it has received throughout its 38-year history.
Akerman’s $1 million pledge represents a commitment over six years to take on a substantial role in the lives of foster youth nationwide. A significant portion of the pledged funds will go to National CASA Association and its local CASA/guardian ad litem (GAL) programs to support the more than 600,000 abused and neglected children who enter the overburdened foster care system each year.
Funds also will be used to establish the “Akerman Academic Scholarship for Foster Youth.” This endowed fund will help minimize the financial burden of higher education for college-bound youth who have grown up in foster care or have spent time in the foster care system. Many students lack the resources to live an independent life once they age-out of the foster care system, and few can afford the necessities to attend school, including the essential books and supplies, registration fees and living expenses. The goal of the Akerman Scholarship is to address these needs and provide these students with increased opportunities to achieve success.
“It takes immense commitment and far-reaching acts if we are going to achieve quality advocacy for every abused and neglected child in the foster care system,” said Andrew Smulian, Akerman Chairman and CEO. “Our people have once again come together to take this huge step toward building an enduring program that will support foster youth in the years ahead. Akerman’s $1 million pledge is about improving the outcomes for at-risk youth by leveraging our firm’s resources while further aligning with our clients and other community partners who share our passion for making a difference.”
“Entering our third year of Akerman’s support of local CASA/GAL programs across the nation, we are so excited to see this partnership expand and grow,” said Bill Collins, President of National CASA. “We fully expect these efforts to have a tremendous impact on the lives of the children we serve.”