Fighting for a Fair Absentee Ballot System in Pennsylvania
A hand holding an absentee ballot envelope
In November 2018, nine voters filed a lawsuit, Adams Jones et al. v. Torres, challenging Pennsylvania's restrictive absentee voting system under the Pennsylvania and U.S. Constitutions in Commonwealth Court. This month, we joined the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, and pro bono counsel from Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP, in representing these voters.

Pennsylvania has some of the tightest deadlines for requesting and returning ballots absentee ballots in the country. As a result, large numbers of  Pennsylvanians are disenfranchised--even though they request absentee ballots by the submission deadline--because they do not receive their ballot in time to fill it out and mail it back to election officials by the Election Code deadline for receiving completed ballots.  The deadline, the Friday before Election Day, is the earliest in the country. In 2018, completed ballots from more than 4,600 voters were received after the deadline and rejected in Southeastern Pennsylvania alone, according to a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer .

Pennsylvania makes it harder to vote absentee, and to have that vote count, than almost any other state. We have been advocates for change to this system for some time. If the General Assembly will not take action to remove this barrier to the ballot box, we will look to the court to overturn this unnecessarily early absentee ballot deadline.

Calling for Bold Investments in the 2019 State Budget
We joined 22 partner organizations in PA Schools Work to call for bold investment in public education in a joint statement released following Governor Wolf's 2019-20 PA budget proposal. Years of under-investment and rising costs have left Pennsylvania districts inadequately and inequitably funded, $3 billion short of what they need for basic education. While we appreciate the Governor's commitment to public schools, our state still needs to do much more to ensure equity and adequacy. 

"We urge the legislature to come to the table to enact the governor's proposed career and technical education increase," our joint statement read, "and to work with the governor to increase basic and special education to a level that is closer to what is truly needed in our classrooms. Our schools are not funded equitably or adequately. In the state with the largest gap between the poorest and wealthiest districts, only larger increases of state funding targeted to the districts that need it most will enable poorer communities to offer every child the education they need and deserve. And doing so makes our schools work and secures our communities." Read the full statement here.

You're invited! Join us to celebrate the new Grounded in Philly
New logo for Grounded in Philly _the O is a tomato_

Date: Thursday, April 11, 2019, 7-9 p.m.
Place: One Art Community Center, 1431 North 52nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19131

Since we launched the website in 2013, Grounded in Philly has been a valuable tool for Philadelphians seeking to transform vacant land in their neighborhoods into community gardens and other green public space. In April, we will unveil a top-to-bottom redesign of the site, featuring user-friendly pathways guiding visitors to information, discussion forums, and interactive resources for starting gardens and securing land. The new site will be a one-stop resource ecosystem and online community center for urban agriculture.

This Spring, help us celebrate the launch of the new and improved Grounded in Philly! Join us for a free party in One Art Community Center's beautiful outdoor garden space for music, grilled locally-sourced food, and a demonstration of the new site. 

RSVP here
First Quarter OVR Report Shows Some Progress, But Failings Remain in Career Readiness for Students with Disabilities
Four people using wheelchairs working on computers
When it comes to preparing students with disabilities for the workforce, Pennsylvania has a long way to go. The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) released their first quarterly report of the school year in January. Despite some progress, our analysis shows that troubling trends continue.   

The report covers July through September 2018 and tracks the provision of six OVR services related to preparing students with disabilities for jobs earning at least minimum wage while working alongside non-disabled peers, known as competitive integrated employment. Disturbingly, less than two percent of eligible students received any of the six tracked services during the reporting period. Despite these disappointing numbers, the report did show some progress: both the number of students who were working part-time or summer jobs based on OVR referrals, and the number of students receiving such referrals, more than doubled compared to the first quarter of 2017-18.  

50 Years Fighting for Justice: Explore our History
Collage of images from the Law Center_s history.
To help celebrate the 50th anniversary of our founding in 1969, we've created a special online portal. You'll find photos and stories from our first 50 years, showcasing the foundational cases that guide our work today. You'll see our vision and our plans for the future. And, it is the place to find the latest information on events we will be holding throughout the year to celebrate this powerful legacy. 

Save the Date: Our 50th Anniversary Event Series 
We are hosting a series of events throughout the year highlighting our history, our work today, and our plans for the future. Mark your calendars, and stay tuned for more information and events as the year goes on! If you have any questions about these events, please contact Michael Berton at or 267-546-1303.

Apartment building exterior

Eviction: The Hidden Crisis

Thursday, May 16, 2019, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Tactix Real Estate Advisors, 100 North 18th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Meet and mingle with our staff and clients while enjoying catered food after a presentation about our current work helping tenants stand up for themselves when landlords fail to provide safe housing, as well as our historical work in this project area. Hear directly from several of our recent clients about their personal stories.

Register here

Photo of Yards Brewery

Young Professionals Networking Event

Thursday, June 13, 2019, 6-9 p.m.
Yards Brewing Company, 500 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123

Join us at Yards Brewing Company to network with other young professionals and learn about our work combating employment discrimination, both for those with criminal histories and those with disabilities. Enjoy Yards beer and tasty hors d'oeuvres while networking in a relaxed and unstructured environment.

Click here to purchase tickets

A voting booth

A Celebration of the Right to Vote

Thursday, November 7, 2019
7303 Emlen Street, Philadelphia, PA 19119

Law Center board member Howard Langer will host advocates for democracy at a cocktail party celebrating our long and storied history of defending and strengthening the right to vote. Learn more about what's coming next in this important work and how you can get involved. 

Welcome Robert Wiygul to our Board of Directors!
Robert Wiygul
Robert Wiygul
We are pleased to welcome Robert Wiygul to our Board of Directors. Help us welcome him by liking his post on LinkedIn!

Robert Wiygul is Of Counsel at Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller. He provides counsel and representation at every stage of the litigation process in both federal and state courts, focusing his practice on commercial litigation, environmental litigation, and complex insurance coverage litigation. Recently, Robert filed amicus briefs pro bono in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of law professors supporting a challenge to the Trump Administration's travel ban. He served for two years as a law clerk to the Honorable Anthony J. Scirica of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.