The Next Big Conversation in Florida Philanthropy: The Value of Partnerships to Create Lasting Change


The theme of Florida Philanthropic Network’s 2015 Statewide Summit on Philanthropy, which is being held on January 29-30, is “The Next Big Conversations in Florida Philanthropy.” In the spirit of the Summit’s theme, this post is part of a series where we’ve asked some of our member leaders to share their thoughts on the next big conversations that should be taking place in Florida’s philanthropic sector. For more information on the Summit, visit

Thank you to Bruce Blackwell, Executive Director and CEO of The Florida Bar Foundation, for sharing his thoughts on the next big conversation in Florida philanthropy. 

The philanthropic community is often engaged in developing solutions to societal problems that involve many other players. On their own, charities can only do so much. But with the right allies, far-reaching and lasting changes can be achieved. That’s why the next big conversations in Florida philanthropy need to involve partnerships.

The Florida Bar Foundation is among the partners in a new collaborative effort launched by Florida Chief Justice Jorge Labarga to help ensure access to civil justice. Under his authority and with support from The Florida Bar under the leadership of President Greg Coleman, the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice will study the unmet civil legal needs of disadvantaged, low-income, and moderate-income Floridians, considering Florida’s legal assistance delivery system as a whole. This includes staffed legal aid programs, pro bono services, innovative technology solutions, and other models and potential innovations.

The 27-member commission will benefit from the involvement of the business community — represented by Walt Disney, Publix and Cheney Brothers — along with leaders from the three branches of Florida government, legal aid and The Florida Bar Foundation, one of Florida legal aid’s major funders.

Access to justice commissions, active in more than 30 states, have achieved significant results in making the justice system more accessible to those who cannot afford an attorney in cases involving common issues such as adoption and child custody, divorce, foreclosure, or landlord-tenant disputes. Their successes are the result of unprecedented levels of collaboration among stakeholders who had previously worked in silos. This cooperative model holds lessons for the future of philanthropy about the value of partnerships in bringing about permanent systemic changes.


– Bruce B. Blackwell, Executive Director and CEO, The Florida Bar Foundation

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