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ABI Endowment to Fund Study of Consumer Bankruptcy from Debtors’ Perspective

August 16, 2005, ALEXANDRIA, VA – The American Bankruptcy Institute Endowment has awarded a two-year, $21,100 grant to Memphis-based RISE Foundation to study the impact of bankruptcy on consumer debtors in the Western District of Tennessee.

The project will be the first study of bankruptcy from the debtor’s perspective in the Memphis area. The district has the nation’s highest per capita filing rate. The results will assist practitioners and policymakers in evaluating the factors behind the high filing rate. The research will also provide insight into the debtor’s life after bankruptcy.

Principal investigators for the study are Phyllis Betts, PhD of the University of Memphis School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy and Prof. Paulette J. Delk of the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.

The researchers will survey 1,000 debtors in western Tennessee—which the New York Times declared the “bankruptcy capital” of the nation in 2001—and track them as they proceed through the bankruptcy process. Among the core questions asked of the study subjects will be 1.) whether any local practices bring about the disproportionate number of chapter 13 (as opposed to chapter 7) in the greater Memphis area, 2.) whether consumers fully understand their options before they file, and 3.) whether the roles of district bankruptcy system “key players” in Memphis differ from those in other districts. University of Memphis students will both distribute the surveys and conduct follow-up calls to track longer-term issues.

The Endowment Fund chose to support this project because of its potential to help  people not just in Memphis, but in other regions, as well. “The program created by the RISE Foundation can become a model for our understanding of the cause and consequences of personal bankruptcy,” said Patricia Redmond of Stearns, Weaver, Miller, Weissler, Alhadeff & Sitterson, PA; Miami, Fla. a member of ABI’s Research Grant Committee.    The ABI Endowment Fund was created in 1989 to provide a secure financial base for the Institute and to provide resources for research and education. Projects eligible for Endowment funding include research by individuals or entities relating to bankruptcy or insolvency; surveys or other analytical investigation; the education of judges, court personnel, other governmental personnel and the general public; scholarships or other educational grants; support for the Robert M. Zinman Resident Scholar, and support for both the Conrad B. Duberstein National Moot Court Competition and the Corporate Restructuring Competition . Since 1998, the Fund has made nearly $500,000 in awards and grants.


ABI is the largest multi-disciplinary, non-partisan organization dedicated to research and education on matters related to insolvency.  ABI was founded in 1982 to provide Congress and the public with unbiased analysis of bankruptcy issues.  The ABI membership includes over 11,000 attorneys, accountants, bankers, judges, professors, lenders, turnaround specialists and other bankruptcy professionals providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and information. For additional information on ABI, visit ABI World at



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