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Thu, 30 May 2024 16:20:32 -0500
2019-01-28 Print

Executive Director of Bar Foundation Wins Prestigious 2019 Social Innovations Award

Jessica Hilburn-Holmes recognized as one of Philadelphia's top social innovators.


PHILADELPHIA — (January 28, 2019) — Jessica R. Hilburn-Holmes, Esq. Executive Director of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, was named winner of the 2019 Greater Philadelphia Social Innovations Award in the Law and Policy sector. She was one of five finalists and the only attorney nominated in the category.

Now in its 10th year, the Social Innovations Award is one of the premier award programs in Philadelphia given out annually to recognize individuals and organizations promoting ground-breaking ideas and solutions that reshape communities. This year, close to 600 people were nominated in a variety of categories, and more than 3,000 votes were cast.

“It is truly humbling to accept this award especially because the other community organizations in this category are true changemakers,” said Hilburn-Holmes. “This recognition only motivates me to work harder, to develop more transformative ideas that will have a lasting impact on Philadelphia.”

As Executive Director, Hilburn-Holmes works to build the Philadelphia Equal Justice Center (EJC). It is the first of its kind in the nation — a center for social justice that will integrate and streamline legal aid and related social services for dozens of the non-profits that receive grants from the Bar Foundation. The EJC will dramatically strengthen the delivery of civil legal aid to low-income Philadelphians and make a critical difference in the lives of individuals, their families, and the broader community.

This innovative project, that has been years in development, aims to inspire similar models and will affect how legal aid and social services are delivered in communities across the country. The unique center will set a national standard for interagency collaboration and operational efficiency, and support collaboration for greater social impact. The entire process will stand as a model for how entrepreneurial thinking and design can benefit a community and a city.

Hilburn-Holmes also collaboratively manages the Philadelphia Bar Foundation’s many fellowships, awards, and activities while overseeing annual grantmaking efforts to nearly 40 civil legal aid non-profits in Philadelphia.

But it is the Equal Justice Center that represents true innovation in civil legal aid for which Hilburn-Holmes was awarded. The Bar Foundation is uniquely positioned to be the central agency working to pull the community together into one groundbreaking facility to be located at 800 Vine Street. The EJC is projected to serve more than 40,000 individuals and families annually and produce an aggregate social and economic benefit for the community of $202 million per year.

About the Philadelphia Bar Foundation and the Equal Justice Center

The Equal Justice Center (EJC), spearheaded by the Philadelphia Bar Foundation, is setting a new national standard for inter?agency collaboration, operational efficiency, and client?centered delivery of free and low-cost legal services. Located at 800-30 Vine Street, the EJC will open in 2022 with approximately 20 public service legal aid agencies and social services organizations. The EJC’s shared efficiency model allows peer non-profits to reduce expenses, serve clients effectively, and make better use of resources to provide more services. Learn more at

Contact Info
Philadelphia Bar Foundation
1101 Market Street, 11th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA

Phone: 215-238-6372