Robina Foundation Renews Support for Three Law School Programs

December 3, 2015

The board of directors of the Minneapolis-based Robina Foundation has awarded generous grants of support to three important, ongoing initiatives at the Law School: the Robina Public Interest Scholars Program; the Bridge Fellowship Program; and the research being conducted by the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice into sentencing law and policy.

The Robina Public Interest Scholars Program, established with a $3.5 million-dollar gift from the Robina Foundation in 2012, creates a seamless path from admission to full-time employment for students interested in pursuing public interest careers. The program has successfully attracted and supported such students, significantly increasing the number of graduates who enter public service, and has allowed Scholars to graduate with substantially less debt. The new Robina Foundation funding of $3,956,752 will both extend the program through the 2021-22 academic year and expand it to support a larger class of students.

The Bridge Fellowship Program, established by the Robina Foundation in 2009, helps recent graduates launch their careers. The program provides short-term postgraduate fellowships at government agencies or nonprofit organizations, giving new graduates a pathway to build skills and contribute to their community while awaiting bar exam results. The Robina Foundation has committed to funding the program with $750,000 for the next five years.

Finally, the foundation has pledged to fund years 4 and 5 of Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice research into sentencing systems and their impacts on public safety, racial and ethnic disparities, sentencing proportionality, and imprisonment rates. This research is part of a larger effort to provide direct assistance to jurisdictions that are exploring ways to improve and advance the way they administer their sentencing systems.

In announcing the additional support, Kathleen Blatz (’84), chair of the board of directors at the Robina Foundation, said, “The sentencing reform work of the Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Institute will have the transformative impact on critical social issues that James Binger (’41) and the Robina Foundation envisioned when establishing the Institute originally. We are also pleased to continue our support of the Robina Public Interest Scholars and the Bridge Fellowships Programs, empowering students who want to pursue careers in public interest law.”

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