Purposes and Objectives
The Oklahoma County Bar Foundation (the “Foundation”) is a non-profit, public-benefit corporation that is organized and operated exclusively for educational and charitable purposes within the meaning of Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3). Donations are deductible to the extent permitted by law.
The principal purposes of the Foundation are:
(1) to advance, facilitate and promote within our community (i) the science of jurisprudence and (ii) the study and improvement of the administration of justice; and
(2) to assist the Oklahoma County Bar Association (the “OCBA”) in carrying out these purposes.
Organization and History:
The Foundation was incorporated on September 2, 1970. Its original trustees were Fisher Ames, John C. Andrews, John L. Belt, V.P Crowe, Robert S. Kerr, Jr., Claude Monnet, Joseph G. Rucks and John K. Speck. The Internal Revenue Service conferred Section 501(c)(3) status on the Foundation on May 1, 1972.
Following years of dormancy in the 1980s and early 1990s, thanks to the vision of OCBA Executive Director Bobby G. Knapp and OCBA Presidents Joe Crosthwait and Jimmy Goodman, in 1995, the Foundation was reconstituted and reorganized as part of the OCBA’s ambitious long-range planning agenda of that era.
In 1996, following extensive investigation and research, the Foundation’s Board resolved to establish a Designated Fund at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation (the “OCCF”) for the permanent benefit of the Foundation. This decision was motivated (1) to secure a permanent source of income to support the Foundation’s purposes and goals; (2) to take advantage of the OCCF’s expert money managers; and (3) to make the Foundation eligible to participate in periodic matching-grant opportunities offered by the OCCF and the John E. Kirkpatrick Family. With great expectations for the future, the Foundation’s entire $38,000 in assets was deposited in its Designated Fund at the OCCF.
In 1998, the Foundation’s Board resolved that its long-term interests were best served by “growing” its OCCF Fund to a goal of $200,000 so that, at some future point, the Fund would generate sufficient annual income to fund meaningful grants consistent with the Foundation’s purposes and goals.
The Foundation’s OCCF Designated Fund has appreciated in the ensuing years because of the expert management of the OCBA’s finances by its professional staff, officers and directors that have enabled the OCBA to make substantial contributions to the Foundation, the Foundation’s exercise of several matching opportunities made available by the OCCF, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund and the John Kirkpatrick Centennial Endowment Challenge, $21,975 that was contributed to the OCCF Designated Fund by Oklahoma County lawyers and law firms to honor Bobby G. Knapp on the occasion of his retirement as OCBA Executive Director, and several individual gifts.
Having achieved its 1998 goal of “growing” its OCCF Designated Fund, in 2007, the Foundation made its inaugural grants to two community organizations that advance the administration of justice in our community consistent with the Foundation’s charitable purposes and goals. Separate unrestricted grants of $6,000 each were made to Oklahoma Lawyers for Children and CASA of Oklahoma County. In 2008, the Foundation made an unrestricted grant of $5,000 to Oklahoma Lawyers for Children, an unrestricted grant of $2,000 to Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, and a $5,000 grant to the Oklahoma County Law Library to facilitate its installation of wireless internet service for the Oklahoma County Courthouse.
In late 2008, Howard K. Berry, Jr. and his family made a $200,000 grant to the Foundation’s OCCF Fund to honor the memory of the late Howard K. Berry, Sr., a 70-year member and 1945 President of the OCBA. In future years, the Foundation will be making Howard K. Berry, Sr. Justice Award grants, in conjunction with the OCBA’s annual observance and celebration of Law Day, to residents of or charitable organizations in Oklahoma County considered to have made outstanding charitable, educational or civic achievements through his, her or its contribution to advance justice, the justice system and/or the legal profession through personal service, leadership and personal commitment to the charitable purposes of the Foundation and the principles of the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and equal access to justice. It is anticipated that other families of Oklahoma County lawyers will emulate the Berry Family’s generosity by making grants to the Foundation to honor or memorialize their own loved ones.