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Baird & Warner Doubles Down on Fair Housing, Commits $215,000 to Scholarship for UIC Law Students Fighting Housing Discrimination

May 21, 2021

In honor of Fair Housing Month, Baird & Warner, Illinois’ largest family-owned independent real estate services company, today announced it’s committing $215,000 to establish the John Baird Scholarship Fund supporting law students dedicated to making housing fair and equitable for all. The scholarship, funded through Baird & Warner’s philanthropic arm, Good Will Works, and the Stephen W. and Susan M. Baird Foundation, will support students who are active with the UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago) Law’s Fair Housing Legal Support Center & Clinic.

“As an organization steeped in the Chicago communities we serve, Baird & Warner has always sought to be part of the solution. And given where we are right now as a city and country in the fight for fair housing, the timing felt right for this type of commitment,” said Stephen Baird, president and CEO of Baird & Warner. “This is an investment in our collective future as it empowers motivated law students to pursue a career in making housing more equitable, and to ensure everyone has the same access and opportunity to live in the neighborhood they choose to without any barriers.

“For as long as I can remember, Baird & Warner has always stood on the right side of history in fighting housing discrimination, and I’m proud we can carry on that legacy today – and for generations to come – with the John Baird Scholarship,” added Baird.

Named for Baird’s late father who preceded him as president of the firm, the scholarship will be awarded to law students focused on fair housing, which John Baird championed throughout his career. During the civil rights movement, John Baird testified before the Chicago City Council and state legislators in support of fair housing when others in powerful Chicago real estate circles were unwilling to take a stand. In 1965, John Baird resigned in protest from the Chicago Real Estate Board – an organization his great-grandfather helped create.

Recipients of the scholarship must be UIC Law students participating in the clinic for their first semester, with preference given to students who graduated from high school in Chicago or its surrounding suburbs. The first scholarship recipient will be selected this year.

The annual scholarship, which covers the one-semester course and clinic (totaling five credit hours), will range from $6,000 to $7,500, based on whether a student pays in-state or out-of-state tuition. The scholarship will provide assistance to students enrolled in the basic course, and students who take it may then elect to take an “advanced” course.

“Thank you to Baird & Warner for walking your talk,” said Allison Bethel, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Fair Housing Legal Clinic. “There is a lot of talk now about social justice, but not much of this kind of big action to make it happen. This incredibly generous donation will help us break down the walls of segregation and separation and allow us to build bridges to healthier and more inclusive communities.”

Since 1993, the UIC Law Fair Housing Legal Support Center & Clinic has provided pro bono legal assistance to private and public organizations seeking to eliminate discriminatory housing practices across the Chicago area. People who have been illegally denied housing because of discrimination under federal, state, and local fair housing laws and ordinances, but have no access to an attorney, can seek free legal counsel through the clinic. One of the few law school clinics in the U.S. devoted exclusively to fair housing training and enforcement, the clinic works closely with local fair housing agencies and organizations, and is an active member of the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance (CAFHA).

In addition, the clinic is also committed to and engaged in community outreach activities to educate consumers about fair housing law and related available services.

“Chicago remains one of the most segregated cities in the country, and fair housing is still a vitally important issue in our city,” said Lucy Baird, Baird & Warner’s historian and director of community impact. “It’s important to use our seat at the table to create change, just as John Baird did in the 1960s, and that’s what we hope this scholarship will do. By supporting a local institution with strong Chicago ties such as the UIC Law Fair Housing Legal Support Center & Clinic, we’re able to encourage future leaders in fair housing for decades to come.”

The John Baird Scholarship is the latest effort by Baird & Warner to support community-based organizations and the people they serve during the pandemic. In 2020, Baird & Warner’s collective team across its residential brokerage, mortgage, and title business lines donated nearly $300,000 to the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund – with the initial donation of $150,000 made in partnership with the Stephen W. and Susan M. Baird Foundation. The funds assisted agencies and individuals who helped families access basic needs, such as emergency food and supplies, mortgage and utility assistance, as well as direct financial assistance if they lost a job due to COVID-19.

For more information about how Baird & Warner gives back through its Good Will Works charitable arm, visit bairdwarner.com/what-we-believe. To learn more about Baird & Warner’s history in the fight for Fair Housing, watch this video.

About Baird & Warner Real Estate, Inc.:

Established in 1855, Baird & Warner is Illinois’ largest family-owned independent real estate services company. The Baird & Warner brand has been synonymous with making real estate easier through experience, innovation, and integrity for more than 165 years. Steve Baird, the firm’s fifth-generation owner, has been consistently recognized among the industry’s most influential leaders. Baird & Warner was named a Chicago Tribune Top Workplace for eight years in a row. With nearly 2,500 broker associates in 29 offices and comprehensive mortgage, title, and relocation services, Baird & Warner ranks among the nation’s top real estate firms. Learn more at BairdWarner.com.

 

Steve Baird is president and CEO of Baird & Warner.

 

Lucy Baird is historian and director of community impact for Baird & Warner.

 

In 1962, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on John Baird – Steve Baird’s father and Lucy Baird’s grandfather – as he testified before a city commission in support of fair housing.