Grant Application and Details

If your program supports children's issues, visit (the YLD Children's Assistance Fund website) for information about the IBF/ISBA YLD Children's Assistance Fund grant application process.

IBF Grant Guidelines

Approved by the Illinois Bar Foundation's Board of Directors
on September 20, 2013.

The Illinois Bar Foundation Grants Program seeks to support organizations that provide meaningful access to the civil justice system, especially for those with limited means. Nonprofit organizations seeking funding from the Illinois Bar Foundation should review these revised guidelines to determine their eligibility and to understand the application process.

A. Eligibility

The Illinois Bar Foundation awards grants only to 501(c)(3) organizations that serve the State of Illinois and conduct work within IBFís grant program objectives.

B. Objectives of IBFís Grants Program

Grants awarded by the Illinois Bar Foundation will support one of three organizational objectives:

1. Enhance the availability of civil legal aid to those of limited means.
Projects funded under this category assist Illinois residents with limited means to resolve their civil legal problems in the most effective way possible. Programs addressing areas of greatest need or with the greatest impact will receive priority.

2. Encourage pro-bono legal work.
Projects funded under this category facilitate pro bono opportunities; provide educational opportunities for pro bono attorneys; or recognize and help sustain the efforts of current pro bono attorneys.

3. Educate Illinois residents regarding their rights and responsibilities under the law.
Projects funded under this category create informational materials for unrepresented Illinois residents with civil legal problems. The project should have a clear and effective distribution plan that includes approved posting on the Illinois Legal Aid Online website.

The Illinois Bar Foundation funds organizations or projects with a statewide, regional or local impact. All organizations must show evidence of the need and impact of their program. The IBF will entertain projects with a new or innovative approach that require seed money to launch as well as programs that result from collaboration among multiple organizations. New projects must demonstrate their viability by identifying support (financial or other) from the communities they are intended to serve.

The Foundation will fund general operating expenses only when the organizationís mission fits squarely within the Illinois Bar Foundationís grant program objectives. Otherwise, IBF grants will be restricted to specific programmatic support.

C. Excluded Activities

For those organizations, projects or programs that do fall within the grant program objectives identified above, the Illinois Bar Foundation will not fund:

1. Projects that do not directly serve residents of the State of Illinois
2. Projects providing legal aid for criminal matters
3. Endowment campaigns
4. Political activities that are inconsistent with the organizationís tax-exempt status
5. Fundraising benefits or mass appeal solicitations
6. Sectarian organizations (unless participation in the program is not limited by religious affinity)
7. Scholarships for individuals

D. Letter Of Inquiry and Grant Application Evaluation Criteria

Proposals submitted to the Illinois Bar Foundation will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

1. The relative importance of the program to the Foundationís objectives.
2. The results and/or impact of the program on the issue it addresses.
3. The availability of funding from other sources.
4. Whether Foundation funding will leverage funds from other sources.
5. Whether the organization is doing an effective job of coordinating its services with other similar organizations.
6. The involvement of the legal community in the program.
7. Whether the organization is efficient and well managed.
8. The capability of the organization to successfully manage the program.
9. Whether the Foundation grant will have a material impact on the organizationís operating budget.
10. Whether the organization has mechanisms in place to regularly evaluate and improve the quality of the services it provides.

E. Instructions for Applying for Funding

New for 2013/2014, the Illinois Bar Foundation will utilize a two-step grant process that will include a letter of inquiry followed by an invitation to submit a grant application.

1. Interested organizations must submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) no longer than two-pages (excluding required supporting documentation). The LOI must provide the following:

  • Brief description of the organization

  • Summary of the proposed program/project, identifying the need and expected impact

  • How the proposal falls within the IBF guidelines

  • Supporting documentation to include: a budget for the program (if seeking funding for a specific program), an organizational budget, and a copy of your Federal tax exempt ruling letter.

    2. IBF will invite selected organizations to submit a grant application based on their LOI.

    3. An invitation to submit a full application should not be interpreted as a guarantee of funding. Rather, the IBF will identify those organizations that the Foundation determines are eligible for funding and/or those which require further evaluation to determine funding eligibility.

    4. Only one LOI per organization will be accepted per funding cycle (July - June).

    5. LOIs may be emailed to IBFGrants@isba.org or mailed to the Foundationís Chicago address.

    6. If mailing a LOI, please do not use staples, spiral binding, folders or special covers. Please only use paper clips or binder clips.

    7. Only PDF or word documents are acceptable formats for emailing.

  • F. Letter Of Inquiry Deadline

    LOIs are due to the Illinois Bar Foundation by 5:00 p.m. on November 1, 2013.

    G. Step Two: Grant Application

    If your organization is invited to submit a full grant application, please follow the instructions below:

    1. Submit a completed application. The application form and directions will be provided to you upon notification of invitation.
    2. Applications may be emailed to IBFGrants@isba.org or mailed to the Foundationís Chicago address.
    3. If mailing an application, please do not use staples, spiral binding, folders or special covers. Please only use paper clips or binder clips.
    4. Review the Application Checklist to ensure the submission of all materials. Applications will not be considered complete until all materials are timely received.

    H. Timeline for Application & Review

    Proposals submitted by the January 21, 2014 deadline will be considered at the Foundationís Spring Board of Directors meeting. The Foundation reserves the right to reject any and all proposals, in whole or in part, at any time, in its sole discretion. The Foundation generally receives substantially more requests than it can fund and there is no guarantee that any particular project or organization will receive funding or receive the full amount requested. We encourage you to call if you have questions about these guidelines or about a particular proposal.

    1. Timelines for IBF Notifications, Organization Submittals and IBF Evaluation Process

    December 16, 2013 - Selected organizations that have completed an LOI will be notified of their opportunity to submit a full application.
    January 21, 2014 Ė Full applications due.
    January 22 to April 1, 2014 Ė Site visits are conducted.
    May 1, 2014 Ė Organizations are notified of funding conclusion (funding granted or declined).

    2. Grant Disbursement

    Grants of $10,000 or more will be disbursed in semi-annual installments. Mid-term reports will be required to release additional funds.

    3. Conditions of Illinois Bar Foundation Grants

    a. All materials submitted to the Foundation become the property of the Foundation and will not be returned.
    b. Information contained in the proposals submitted may be shared with third parties and outside organizations as part of the Foundationís review process. By submitting its application, each organization seeking IBF funding is presumed to consent to the sharing of such information.
    c. The Foundation, in its discretion, may request a site visit and/or additional information to assist in its review and evaluation of the proposal, or in the evaluation of the uses by the organization of the awarded grant.
    d. The Illinois Bar Foundation reserves the property rights, copyrights and all other rights of reproduction with respect to any intellectual property for which service is provided as a condition of this grant.
    e. Grant awards must be used strictly in accordance with the proposal and budget submitted in writing to the Foundation. A grant recipient must petition the Foundation for permission to make any changes or alternate use of grant funds.
    f. If there are significant changes in a grant recipientís mission, structure or personnel (especially management staff) during the grant period, the grant recipient must notify the Foundation as soon as possible.
    g. Foundation funds must be expended within 12 months of the date of the award. The IBFís Executive Director may grant a six-month extension if there has been a good-faith effort to complete the project.
    h. Grant recipients are responsible for the proper expenditure of funds and for maintaining adequate supporting records consistent with generally accepted accounting practices.
    i. The Foundation requests that its grants are properly recognized where appropriate.

    I. For More Information

    For more information about the Illinois Bar Foundationís grant guidelines and procedures, contact Melissa Burkholder, IBF Development and Grants Officer, at 312-920-4682, or email mburkholder@isba.org.


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