Posted: October 23rd, 2013 | By: Lauren Sarno
Thanks to a cross-discipline collaboration at Wake Forest University between law professors and business students, hundreds of public elementary school students in Forsyth County won’t go hungry on the weekends.
Wake Forest Law Professor Barbara Lentz recently founded the nonprofit agency, Forsyth Backpack Inc., with the help of Law Professor Steve Virgil’s Community Law and Business Clinic. The program is an umbrella nonprofit that raises funds and awareness to better serve hungry children in Forsyth County.
There are currently 23 Backpack programs at public schools in the county, according to Lentz. In addition to sharing best practices and funds, Forsyth Backpack has been asked by a local food bank to start one to three new programs at public elementary schools, reaching at least 150 more children identified by school teachers and nurses as showing signs of hunger.
The incorporation was very well managed, according to Lentz, and the guidance the program organizers received from the Community and Law Business Clinic allowed their entity to quickly receive both 501c3 federal tax status and state exemption.
Forsyth Backpack also has been selected by the Schools of Business master’s program as its fall action learning program partner.
“More than 100 business students are raising funds and awareness as part of their action learning leadership and team building program,” Lentz said.
“We hope to feed public school kids during the two-week winter break when some kids who receive breakfast and lunch at school do not have enough to eat. The lives of approximately 1,500 children in the community are greatly improved as they feed their bodies, are able to focus on their schoolwork, and feel comforted knowing that people in their community care about them.”
Professor Virgil’s clinic that helped incorporate Forsyth Backpack provides law and graduate business students with an opportunity to develop skills needed to practice in the increasingly complex legal and regulatory environment they will encounter as professionals.
The Community Law and Business Clinic also uses the resources and expertise of Wake Forest University to enhance community development efforts in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County and the region. The clinic has assisted clients with hundreds of legal matters since opening in 2009, including those related to small businesses and start-ups, non-profits, art and intellectual property, and consumer transactions.
Professor Virgil has served as founding director of the Community Law and Business Clinic since 2008. He has practiced law for more than 20 years with an emphasis on community economic development and the nonprofit sector. He clients include nonprofit organizations of all sizes and scope, from neighborhood associations to major private foundations and he maintains an active pro bono public interest litigation practice.
Professor Lentz has been teaching writing, drafting and art law courses to JD and international LLM students for more than a decade. She is the 2013 winner of the Jurist Excellence in Teaching Award (selected by the graduating class). Lentz has been selected by the University to serve as a Faculty Fellow and by the Institute for Public Engagement as an ACE Fellow. She is a faculty adviser to the Wake Forest Journal of Business and Intellectual Property Law and has been a coach to ABA national moot court teams for several years.
Before teaching, Lentz was an over-worked associate with two national law firms. She is active in the community, serving on the Board of the Winston-Salem Symphony, a public school committee dedicated to expanding public school options in the downtown core,and as a speaker for Leadership Winston-Salem. She is a graduate of Duke University and earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan.