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The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law Salutes Sargent Shriver

John Bouman 312.961.3862

(CHICAGO—January 18, 2011) The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law salutes Robert Sargent Shriver, a peacemaker and hero to thousands, who passed away today. An uncommon thinker with a generous heart, he built and spearheaded programs that would affect millions of lives both in the United States, and abroad.

“Sargent Shriver has had a hand in the development or creation of some of the most major, impactful social service programs directed by the American government in the past 50 years,” said John Bouman, president of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. “The Peace Corps, Job Corps, Head Start, Volunteers in Service to America, Legal Services – all programs that affect the lives of generations of people, and they all came from the brilliant mind of Sargent Shriver. The Shriver Center also owes its existence to him. It was his initial work to include legal services within the Office of Economic Opportunity and to enlist lawyers to help fight the War on Poverty that launched our organization. It was also Shriver’s vision that lawyers should help communities solve problem they identify – to help the build power to be players in the public decisions that affect them.”

Sargent Shriver always felt a strong call to serve the public and in his fifteen years in Chicago, he emerged as a public figure. While living in Chicago in the 1950s, he devoted much of his time to the Catholic Interracial Council (CIC), whose goal it was to foster better race relations in and outside of the Catholic church. As president of the board of the CIC, Shriver effectively integrated many of Chicago’s Catholic high schools. When he became president of the Chicago Board of Education, he ended the practice of white students being able to transfer from integrated schools to all-white schools by disallowing transfers of public high school students to schools out of their districts.

“Quite simply, Sargent Shriver was a man driven by religious values and idealism, but also devoted to competence and pragmatism,” said Mr. Bouman. “He wanted to help those who needed help to help themselves, and in the process make the world a more humane place. He will be sorely missed.”

The Shriver Center provides national leadership in efforts identifying, developing, and supporting creative and collaborative approaches to social and economic justice for low-income people. The Shriver Center fulfills its legal advocacy and policy development through a comprehensive set of initiatives, including representing low-income people on a variety of issues that affect their social and economic well-being and managing communications and access to poverty law strategies and policy- related information. 

The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law provides national leadership in advancing laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty. We specialize in practical solutions. We advocate for and serve clients directly, while also building the capacity of the nation’s legal aid providers to advance justice and opportunity for their clients.

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