More Information

Ron Brown Center Receives $125,000 Grant to Help Expand and Strengthen its Signature Pipeline Program

Members of the Prep Program Class of 2016
Monday, October 17, 2016

The Access Group Center for Research & Policy Analysis® has awarded a $125,000 grant through its Legal Education Diversity Pipeline Grant Program to the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights at St. John’s University School of Law. The grant will be used to strengthen and expand the Center’s signature pipeline initiative: The Ronald H. Brown Law School Prep Program for College Students.

For over a decade, the Prep Program has helped students from traditionally underserved and underrepresented groups—who are often the first in their families to attend college—apply to law school and pursue legal careers. And through the years, the Program has grown and thrived in partnership with a number of colleges and universities across the country.

Spread over two summers, the Prep Program features a law school boot camp, legal internships, mentors, a speaker series, events at firms and bar associations, customized LSAT test prep, professional and emotional mental health counseling, diversity and personal statement workshops, and resume and interview counseling by career professionals.

“We’re very proud of the depth and breadth of this effort,” says Professor Elaine M. Chiu, who directs the Center and its Prep Program with Professor Rosa Castello '06. “Twenty Prep Program alumni started as first year law students this fall at law schools all over the country. Over 120 alumni have gone on to 54 different law schools nationwide, including Cornell, Duke, Fordham, Georgetown, George Washington, Harvard, St. John's, University of Buffalo, UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis, UCLA, University of Florida, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania and Yale. Together they’ve earned millions of dollars in law school scholarships.”

With the generous support from Access Group, the Center will introduce Prep Program Foundations, a new summer offering for college students who are between their freshman and sophomore years. “Gaps in education start as early as elementary and middle school and persist throughout high school and college,” Professor Castello explains. “In particular, the skills of close and critical reading and of persuasive, correct, and concise writing are deficient in students from impoverished, overcrowded public schools. Prep Program Foundations will target these skills earlier in the college experience.”  The new offering will increase the number of Prep program participants for Summer 2017.

“Access Group is pleased to award this grant to St. John’s University School of Law,” says Christopher P. Chapman, Access Group President and Chief Executive Officer. “Access Group’s Legal Education Diversity Pipeline Grant Program annually awards grants to programs like the Ronald H. Brown Law School Prep Program that conduct effective interventions and approaches to enhance access to legal education for students from diverse and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Under the grant, the Center and Prep Program will also grow their base of strategic partners—colleges, law firms, bar associations, and in-house legal departments who share the Center’s commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion in the law and who support the Prep Program as funders, mentors, internship providers, and future employers.

Along with these grant-funded initiatives, the Center will undertake the important work of measuring and reporting on the Prep Program’s efficacy and impact. “We look forward to taking these next steps in shaping and nurturing this much-needed resource,” says Professor Chiu. “It’s a wonderful new chapter.”

About Access Group
Founded in 1983, Access Group is a nonprofit membership organization comprised of nearly 200 nonprofit and state-affiliated ABA-approved law schools. From providing financial education resources and services for students and schools, to supporting research programs and data collection, to driving policy advocacy, Access Group works to promote broad access, affordability, and the value of legal education specifically, and graduate and professional education more broadly.

Access Group launched its research and grant making activities through the Access Group Center for Research & Policy Analysis in June 2014. Since that time, it has awarded more than $2.8 million through its four grant programs.

About the Ron Brown Center for Civil Rights
The Ron Brown Center has been a force at St. John’s University School of Law since 1999, conducting legal studies, research, and outreach on matters that affect the rights of underrepresented people. Along with the Prep Program, it leads several path-breaking initiatives designed to increase the pool of students of color in law schools, to teach law students how to be leaders in social justice as they enter the legal profession, and to support lawyers of color pursuing careers in academia.