Your OBF is Hard at Work

By Susan Shields

On Aug. 23, 2013, the Oklahoma Bar Foundation Grants and Awards Committee, chaired by Judge Millie Otey of Tulsa, met to consider the OBF annual grant applications. This year, the OBF received a total of 19 grant applications, all from previous grantees supported by the OBF. The amount of the grants requested was approximately $590,000, compared to the OBF grant budget of $325,000 for the 2013 grant cycle. There was also an added $7,135 from the 2012 Annual Meeting fundraising efforts.

Working hard to raise funds

As the OBF has reported previously, IOLTA revenues are down drastically due to the very low (almost zero) interest rate environment. The OBF is powerless to combat the low interest rates that impact the OBF’s grant budget, but each member of the OBA should be grateful to the hardworking volunteers on the OBF Board of Trustees who have stepped up to raise funds by recruiting new OBF Fellows, asking existing Fellows who have completed their initial pledge to become Sustaining or Benefactor Fellows, asking sections, county bar associations and other associations and groups to become participants in the new “OBF Community Fellows Program” and raising awareness about the ability of lawyers handling class action matters to help direct cy pres funds to the OBF. Each of these revenue streams is critically important for the continued success of the OBF to meet the needs of grantees in providing legal services for the most needy Oklahomans — often children and abused women, supplying funds for law-related education and enhancing initiatives for justice.

The OBF will report on the approval of its 2013 grants next month. While OBF Trustees work hard on fundraising, giving away OBF grants is what OBF Trustees love to do best — it’s the OBF’s reason for existence. We strive to raise increased OBF dollars for the sole purpose of giving more away.

How can you help?

If you are not a Fellow, become one. If you are already a Fellow, increase your commitment to become a Sustaining or Benefactor Fellow. If you are a member of a county bar, section or another organization that has not already become a Community Fellow, urge your organization to commit. Our collective dollars ensure that the OBF’s support of Legal Aid, Tulsa Lawyers for Children, Oklahoma Lawyers for Children, Teen Court, Oklahoma High School Mock and a host of other important services will continue for years to come.

Ms. Shields is OBF president and can be reached at