Temple University Beasley School of Law has announced a new gift of $1.5 million to the law school from the Sheller Family Foundation in support of the Sheller Center for Social Justice, bringing the Sheller Foundation’s total commitment to the Center to $3 million. “We are profoundly grateful, both for Stephen and Sandy’s generosity and for their continued confidence in the great work of the Sheller Center,” said Dean Gregory N. Mandel. “With this new gift, we will be able to amplify the work of the Center with meaningful impact in some of our most vulnerable communities, and to ensure the sustainability of the Center, its work, and its role in our students’ legal education.”
The Sheller Center has already had significant impact for working-class and immigrant communities, collaborating with partner organizations to tackle issues like wage theft, language access in the courts, the costs of juvenile incarceration, cash bail reform, and detention of immigrant families at the Berks County Residential Center. Mandel expressed enthusiasm for what this new gift could make possible. “This gift will have a ripple effect,” he said. “The Sheller Center will be able to continue to engage students in assisting more individual clients and communities, and the work they do together will impact policies and change laws at the regional and national levels. But even more broadly than that, it will give life, in the next generation of lawyers, to a new vision of what lawyers can do to pursue social justice and our democratic ideals.”
In addition to strengthening the Center, said Dean Mandel, the gift will enable the creation of an endowed professorship in public interest law. This professorship will support faculty research in areas of public interest law and social justice, and provide synergies between this work and the Sheller Center.
Offering students insight into their own ability to impact communities was an important part of the gift, said Sandy Sheller. “One of our purposes in creating the Sheller Center has been to teach students what’s possible; that they can create change,” she said. “Part of what sets Temple Law apart is that the students who come here are grounded in the real world. They understand struggle, and want to turn the axis toward justice. We want to be part of their education in how to do that.”
The Sheller Center’s impact on students has already been transformative. As one alumna of Temple Law, Mary Beth Schluckebier, shared about her law school experience: “Working with the Sheller Center has probably been the most formative experience I’ve had at Temple as a future lawyer, and more importantly, as an advocate, a justice-seeker, and a person.” “The Sheller Center provides students with the opportunity to explore social justice work while serving local communities,” said Professor Jennifer Lee, whose Social Justice Lawyering Clinic is housed at the Center. “We emphasize not only the approach of working in collaboration with communities but also teach students about advocacy work that falls outside of the traditional view of ‘lawyering.’”
For the Shellers, whose philanthropy touches communities throughout Philadelphia, the focus is on making concrete change in the lives of those who struggle. “It’s about giving people hope,” said Stephen Sheller. “When I look at the North Broad Street corridor, I see so much potential, even where others have seen so much despair. We want to get the students involved in making that hope grow.”
About the Sheller Center for Social Justice
The Sheller Center was created in 2013 through a $1.5 million gift from Stephen and Sandra Sheller. Building on Temple’s long-standing and deep commitment to social justice, the Sheller Center works in collaboration with Temple Law faculty and students, community groups, the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania legal communities, and other schools and departments within Temple University to improve access to justice for underserved populations in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania. In the five years since its creation, the Center has seen tremendous success, transforming the lives of individual clients and communities and impacting policy at the regional and national levels. The Center was the recipient of the 2017 Clinical Legal Education Association Award for Excellence in a Public Interest Case or Project for work done by students in its Justice Lab clinic toward ending the practice of billing parents for the cost of their children’s’ incarceration, just one of several high-impact projects undertaken by students at the Center.
About the Sheller Family Foundation
Throughout nearly five decades of service, Stephen and Sandra Sheller have been committed to improving lives and promoting positive social change; especially for those who are disenfranchised, underprivileged, and underserved. Guided by the values of justice, fairness, opportunity, empowerment, and advancement, they have sought to expose and eradicate injustice; enhance opportunities and healing for individuals, families, and communities; and strengthen children’s and families’ futures.
Sandy Sheller is an active civic leader, philanthropist, Licensed Professional Counselor, Board Certified Art Therapist, and Family Therapist. She has been influential in advancing trauma-informed therapeutic practices, working with families experiencing homelessness, addressing economic and social disparity, and in service to higher education.
Stephen Sheller is an unrelenting advocate for justice for this country. He has done well by doing good and taking cases in which he believes, from his representation of the Black Panthers and women experiencing gender-based pay inequity, to novel consumer fraud litigation, to filing the first legal challenge in Bush v. Gore. He has litigated pharmaceutical product liability claims for hundreds of young boys who developed the serious, debilitating side effect of gynecomastia while taking Risperdal. He also litigates fraud and False Claims Act violations through whistleblowers who seek his expertise. He has garnered more than $6 billion for the U.S. Government and taxpayers.
For more information about the Sheller Center for Social Justice, please contact Rebecca Schatschneider at 215-204-2871 or firstname.lastname@example.org.