Tonée Earle ’21, Pejumae Guscott ’21 and Nancy Thach ’21 have founded The Social Justice Movement, Ltd. (SJM), a nonprofit aimed at bridging the gap between minority persons and professional spaces (e.g., legal field, medical field, elected office, home ownership). Earle hopes to launch the program by early summer, starting with a focus on increasing access to the legal field. SJM will partner with licensed attorneys in the D.C. area who can provide support and guidance to individuals as young as 11th grade and throughout law school and bar preparation.
Earle said, “We recognize it is not enough to encourage the leaders in our profession to hire persons from diverse backgrounds. That is only half the battle. The other half is communicating to diverse and oftentimes underprivileged adolescents that they belong in these spaces.”
That is where Earle says SJM comes in. SJM’s platform is based on mentorship, education and financial stability for young people looking to enter a variety of professional spaces.
According to Earle, the mentors will take on a unique type of role. “The support our mentors provide is basically that of a friend,” Earle explained. “We simply ask that our mentors provide insight to the world of law and their journey to being barred.” The students SJM aims to serve are often the first in their family to pursue a career in law, which leaves them without the support and mentorship of professionals in the industry. “Having a support system of individuals who have been where they are going aids in the likelihood of success,” she said.
SJM will also offer a safe space for students to discuss their experiences and tools and resources to better equip them for the road ahead. Earle expects the program to include guest speakers with applicable experience, advice and innovations.
By providing financial support to students who are economically disadvantaged, SJM hopes to ease or eliminate a major obstacle that often stops minority youth before they even begin. The organization plans to raise funds to help with costs associated with LSAT prep, Bar membership and other fees.