Albina Head Start

The most effective and rewarding pro bono work takes place where passion and skills overlap.

— Owen Blank

Albina Head Start (AHS) and Tonkon Torp enjoy a relationship that has lasted for decades. With business attorney Owen Blank providing ongoing leadership, the firm has provided strategic counsel and a myriad of pro bono legal services to AHS, which delivers school readiness, social, and other services to more than 1,000 low-income children and their families in Portland.

Among the firm’s pro bono activities on behalf of AHS are these highlights:

  • Facilitated a series of complex transactions that helped the organization to retire a seven figure debt on its centers and create a seven figure reserve, enhancing the financial stability and sustainability of AHS.
  • Negotiated a contract with Portland State University and The Confucius Foundation, a national organization, to institute a Mandarin Chinese language program for AHS and Early Head Start preschoolers.
  • Negotiated an agreement between AHS and Portland Community College to give qualified students and staff priority admission for a new Head Start center housed in a new building on the PCC campus.
  • Handled corporate, real estate, and environmental risk management issues related to AHS assuming responsibility for another organization’s Early Head Start program, at the federal government’s request.
  • Facilitated the purchase of the building which has housed the AHS Tina Clegg Center for more than 40 years, which ensures that AHS can reliably serve current and future families who live within the community.
In recognition of his long-time donation of legal services and his effective counsel and transactional work over the years, in 2014 Albina Head Start renamed one of its classroom buildings the Owen D. Blank Center. For his AHS and other pro bono work, the Multnomah Bar Association honored Owen with its 2015 Pro Bono Award of Merit, given to a lawyer who strengthens and enriches the community by donating his time and expertise to provide services to clients who would otherwise be unable to afford them.  

“The most effective and rewarding pro bono work takes place where passion and skills overlap. For me, that is at the intersection of poverty and racial discrimination, and the impact that has on our society. Albina Head Start is doing a great job of addressing some of these issues at the preschool level,” says Owen.

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