In FY20, the Illinois Bar Foundation Board of Directors approved the distribution of $230,000 in Access to Justice Grants

around the State in support of the below organizations.

Ascend Justice

The mission of Ascend Justice is to empower individuals and families impacted by gender-based violence or the child welfare system to achieve safety and stability through holistic legal advocacy and system reform. Ascend Justice's service delivery, conducted in partnership with the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, and the Clerk of the Circuit Court, is an on-site, court-based program providing immediate services at no expense to survivors and their families in the Cook County Domestic Violence Courthouse. The IBF supports Ascend Justice's Emergency Services Division to cover salary costs for the Director of Volunteer Services, who is responsible for recruitment, training and supervision for pro bono attorneys and other volunteers who supplement the work of staff attorneys and represent victims in their petition for Orders of Protection. 


FY20 Grant Award: $10,000 to support the Emergency Services Division.

Beyond Legal Aid

Beyond Legal Aid, forer Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA) unites lawyers and communities in a collaborative pursuit for justice by leveraging legal services to benefit the most marginalized communities and individuals through community-located, community-operated, and community-directed legal programs. More specifically, CALA brings free legal aid to target underserved groups such as undocumented immigrants, workers in street economies, and laborers. The work is delivered though "community activism law clinics" that are joint ventures with grassroots organizations. IBF funds support these clinics, each individually customized for its community, focusing on issues including immigration, employment, housing, family, education, and criminal records.


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 for community legal workshops.

Cabrini Green Legal Aid

Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA)’s mission is to answer God’s call to seek justice and mercy for those living in poverty by providing legal services that strengthen lives, families, and communities. Founded by LaSalle Street Church, CGLA is now a secular organization. CGLA will be receiving funding to support their Criminal Records Program, which is a statewide leader in providing a critical, unique service to thousands of Cook County residents. This funding enables CGLA to maintain Expungement Help Desks at the Daley Center and south suburbs in Markham, assist petitioners at court calls, and provide formal representation in select cases. CGLA has also recently expanded their Second Chance Summit into Community Summits wherein residents are advised on their criminal records and can receive petitions, increasing the capacity of legal aid organizations to address the community need. 


FY20 Grant Award: $10,000 to support their Criminal Records Program.


CARPLS Legal Aid

CARPLS is an innovative legal aid service that offers an immediate response to the everyday legal problems confronting low-income residents of Cook County. CARPLS' Legal Aid Hotline and court-based advice desks give low-income clients direct access to experienced attorneys trained to quickly assess and respond to a wide variety of civil legal problems. Clients with more complex needs are referred by CARPLS to a network of specialized legal and social service providers. Funding from the IBF enables CARPLS to maintain the existing services capacity of their Legal Aid Hotline, the only program of its kind that is capably effective of responding to a full range of legal needs in the areas of consumer, family, employment, immigration, individual rights, education, and housing law.


FY20 Grant Award: $10,000 for their Legal Aid Hotline. 

Center for Disability and Elder Law

The Center for Disability & Elder Law (CDEL) is a legal service organization which provides legal services at no cost to the most vulnerable, yet underrepresented, residents of Cook County. The Center for Disability & Elder Law will receive funding for their Senior Legal Assistance Clinics, which extend CDEL services to suburban areas. The 10 suburban clinics are open at least once a month by appointment to address issues including eviction defense, consumer fraud, and basic estate planning. 


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 for Senior Legal Assistance Clinics. 


Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation

Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) was founded to address the culture, institutions, and individuals that perpetrate, profit from, or support sexual exploitation. Since its inception, CAASE has expanded, acquiring legal services and policy reform programs and the additional goal of opposing sexual assault outside of the sex trade. CAASE brands itself as the only organization in Illinois, and one of very few in the country, which focuses on ending exploitation and rape by working to hold perpetrators responsible and to expose those who benefit from sexual violence and exploitation. IBF funds support the Legal Services Program, which provides direct legal services to survivors of sexual assault and trafficking, a majority of whom have unmet legal needs but only a minority of whom receive adequate information about their legal rights and resources. 


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 in support of their Legal Services Program. 


The Chicago Lighthouse

The Chicago Lighthouse for People who are Blind or Visually Impaired (The Lighthouse) serves people with blindness and severe vision loss with an array of programs to help them lead richer, more independent lives. They provide 28 different educational, clinical, vocational, and rehabilitation programs, many of which are equipped to serve the multi-disabled. IBF funds provide general operating support for the Kane Legal Clinic, which serves low-income blind or visually impaired individuals on issues including social security, job discrimination, tenant discrimination, bankruptcy, and general document review.

FY20 Grant Award: $2,500 in support of their Kane Legal Clinic.


Chicago Volunteer Legal Services

Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS)'s mission is to coordinate, promote, and support the involvement of the legal community in the voluntary pro bono representation of individual clients from the Chicago area's poor and working poor population. CVLS meets the needs of low-income Chicagoans through the pro bono representation of over 2,000 volunteers, supported by 14 staff attorneys and 10 professional and administrative staff who oversee volunteer training and supervision. CVLS will receive funding to support staff costs for the through which CVLS is appointed by the Probate Court to serve as Guardian Ad Litem and advocate for alleged and adjudicated adults with disabilities.


FY20 Grant Award: $10,000 for the GAL for Disabled Adults.

Children's Legal Center

The Children’s Legal Center (CLC) is non-profit organization working to protect immigrant children by providing immigration legal services, including representation before the immigration court. The mission of CLC is to provide holistic, trauma-informed immigration legal services and provide supportive non-legal services through our established partnerships (such as mental health, housing and social services). The program is voluntary, free, and open to any immigrant child (boy or girl), who is under the age of 21, and their caregiver. CLC provides representation to unaccompanied minors in removal proceedings, families with children in removal proceedings, and children and families who are victims of a crime such as domestic abuse or trafficking.


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 to support Genearl Operating.

Equip for Equality

Equip for Equality's (EFE) mission is to advance human and civil rights of children and adults with disabilities throughout Illinois. To achieve their mission and to promote choice, inclusion, and independence, they focus on five areas: discrimination, community integration, quality care and safety from abuse and neglect, self-discrimination, and special education. The IBF's grant will fund the Special Education Clinic, which provides information and referrals, self-advocacy fact sheets, legal assistance, and direct legal representation. These services are offered statewide for any Illinois student with disabilities and their families, via numerous methods including a helpline, website, self-advocacy materials, extended advice, legal representation, educational seminars, and outreach to target populations.


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 to support of their Special Education Clinic. 

Erie Neighborhood House

Erie House's mission is to empower our community - Latinx immigrants alongside individuals and families of all backgrounds - through education, access to critical services and advocacy, working together to create a just and inclusive society. With funding from IBF, Erie House will start a new initiative to organize and conduct asylum pro se presentations and workshops. This gives asylum seekers the necessary tools to more confidently represent themselves if they are unable to secure legal representation. In this way we are increasing our capacity and reaching out to a greater number of asylum seekers who are without representation.


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 to support the Pro Se Asylum Workshops. 

Family Shelter Service

Family Shelter Service (FSS) transforms lives by offering help and hope to those affected by domestic violence. Their vision is to confront domestic violence in the moment, where people need them, striving to turn no one away by offering a broad range of services throughout DuPage County. Services include a 24-hour crisis hotline, an emergency shelter, counseling, case management, court/victim advocacy services, support groups, community-based advocacy, prevention education, and training. All programs and services are confidential, provided free of charge and are available in Spanish and English. IBF funds support the Legal Readiness Program, which consists of a series of workshops where clients are given information about relevant legal topics and are able to have their questions answered by volunteer attorneys. 


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 to support the Legal Readiness Program.

Farmworker & Landscaper Advocacy Project

The mission of the Farmworker & Landscaper Advocacy Project (FLAP) is to improve working conditions for migrant and seasonal workers, including low-income farmworkers, landscapers, packinghouse workers, cannery workers, and meat and poultry workers who work and/or live in eighteen counties of Northern Illinois. FLAP carries out this mission through litigation, outreach, and community legal education. The IBF grant will support FLAP's Outreach and Community Legal Education program, held in both Spanish and English in parks, churches, homes and libraries. These workshops inform workers about their rights as well as free or affordable legal resources available. FLAP staff, board members, and community partners also meet one-on-one with attendees to answer questions and/or offer referrals.


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 to support Community Legal Education workshops. 


Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) is composed of community-organizing groups, ethnic associations, unions, churches and mosques, school districts, colleges, and direct-service organizations that work with diverse immigrant and refugee communities. ICIRR's mission is to promote full and equal participation of immigrants and refugees in the political, civic and economic life of our diverse society. Through legal status and opportunity for eventual citizenship, ICIRR's vision is life that includes the essential elements all residents strive for: a decent livelihood, economic opportunity, high quality education for their children, healthcare access, and basic human rights. ICIRR educates Illinois immigrant communities on their rights and responsibilities under the law through Know Your Rights (KYR) trainings and materials produced in 7 languages.

FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 to support Know Your Rights Education

Illinois Equal Justice Foundation

The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) was created to equitably distribute the state appropriation for civil legal services to non-profit legal aid providers across the state. The IBF has been a partner in the work of the IEJF since 2001. The IEJF will receive funding for their Equal Justice Illinois Campaign, the bi-partisan effort to increase the state appropriation for civil legal aid. With the Illinois State budget impasse, there is currently no appropriation for legal aid. An investment in the Campaign leverages over a million dollars in state funding annually for the legal aid community and the families it serves. Educating decision-makers on the benefits of timely legal aid services is essential to saving this vital funding stream.


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 for their Equal Justice Illinois Campaign.


Illinois Legal Aid Online

The mission of Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) is to increase access to justice for lower-income and vulnerable Illinois residents through the innovative use of technology, to assist and educate the public, and to train and support legal aid providers and pro bono attorneys. ILAO will receive funding to support their Statewide Legal Services Website,, which provides critical online legal resources and technology tools to assist lower-income Illinoisans and support legal aid and pro bono attorneys. ILAO supports and helps increase the efficiency of every legal aid and pro bono program in the state by providing practice support resources and systems for collaboration.

FY20 Grant Award: $15,000 for general operating support.

The Immigration Project

The Immigration Project's mission is to improve access to affordable, high-quality immigrant legal services in downstate Illinois. They provide services to immigrants living on the I-80 line through southern Illinois. They provide several types of basic immigration legal assistance including: immigration information, counseling, and referral; services for immigrant victims of crime; Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and waivers for immediate relatives for U.S. citizens; citizenship application support; and general immigration application support. The IBF's grant will support their Regional Immigration Clinics, scheduled throughout the year in various locations to provide free individualized assessment and counseling for immigrants, their U.S. citizen and legal resident relatives, and employers in central and southern Illinois.

FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 to support their Regional Immigration Clinics. 

James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy

The James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy (“Moran Center”) provides low-income Evanston youth and their families with integrated legal work and social work services to improve their quality of life at home, at school and in the community. The vision is to foster the development of youth who are productive law-abiding citizens with bright futures, and the programmatic approach focuses on legal representation integrated with social work services, youth advocacy and restorative justice practices. The Moran Center works to provide justice in the courtroom, access to the classroom, and support in the community. IBF Funds the Special Education Legal Advocacy Program, which provides advocacy, legal assistance, and social work support in special education and school discipline matters. 


FY19 Grant Award: $5,000 to support their Special Education and Civil Legal Clinic Programs.

Land of Lincoln Legal Aid

The Land of Lincoln Legal Aid’s mission is to provide low-income and senior residents of central and southern Illinois with high-quality civil legal services in order to maintain their basic human needs. LOLLAF will receive general operating support for their programs, serving 65 counties in central and southern Illinois where there are currently more than 380,000 people below the federal poverty line. 


FY20 Grant Award: $17,500 for general operating support.

Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing

The Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) aids in the preservation of safe, decent, and accessible affordable rental housing and promotes the rights of tenants to that housing on a non-discriminatory basis through education, outreach, supportive services, advocacy, and legal representation. LCBH will receive funding for general operating support for their legal advocacy, including representation in court, to renters who require assistance in enforcing their rights and remaining in their homes. They provide a full spectrum of legal services for tenants in housing crises, offering direct legal representation, advocacy, individual counseling, and community and education outreach to help tenants understand and assert their rights. 


FY20 Grant Award: $7,500 for general operating support.


Legal Council for Health Justice

Legal Council for Health Justice (LCHJ) uses the power of the law to secure health, dignity, and stability for people experiencing health and other disparities. They believe that everyone deserves a fair chance to lead a life of dignity and opportunity. Funding from the IBF will support, sustain, and strategically grow the Homeless Outreach Project, one of their three medical legal partnerships (MLPs). MLPs are innovative, evidence-based models of civil legal aid working in collaboration with hospitals, health systems, and social service providers to promote individual and community well-being. The Behavioral Health Medical-Legal Partnership specifically helps to address health problems related to homelessness including substance abuse and physical or mental health problems. Many of the individuals served are eligible for SSI or SSDI benefits but face formidable challenges to gaining stability given the challenges related to homelessness. 


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 for their Homeless Outreach Project.

Life Span

Life Span is committed to ending domestic and sexual violence in our communities, and to the immediate relief of those who suffer from its consequences. Life Span provides comprehensive services to victims and their children, helping victims eliminate abuse from their lives, build upon their strengths, and become self-sufficient. The grant from the IBF will help fund civil legal services for victims of domestic and sexual violence in the Rolling Meadows and Skokie courthouses, which lack the consistent presence of nonprofit attorneys. Life Span seeks to take the more complicated cases that other organizations refer, including those who cannot otherwise secure free legal representation.


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 for legal services for domestic violence victims of North and Northwest Cook County.  

Migrant and Immigration Community Action Project

The MICA Project is a Southern Illinois community organization committed to working with low-income immigrants to overcome barriers to justice by providing outreach to immigrant communities, offering client-centered legal representation, and connecting immigrant families to quality and affordable programs and resources. The MICA Project will receive funding for general operating support for their legal representation of clients who are looking to obtain a green card or citizenship, petitioning to bring relatives to the United States, pursuing asylum or other protection from persecution or torture, and seeking to avoid removal (deportation) from the United States. 


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 for general operating support.  


National Immigrant Justice Center

National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) upholds the rights of immigrants through direct legal representation, legal education and consultation, impact litigation, and policy advocacy. Leveraging support from a network of nearly 1,500 pro bono attorneys, NIJC provides legal counsel and representation to 10,000 low-income refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied immigrant children, detained men and women, LGBTQ immigrants, survivors of violence, and immigrant families each year. NIJC is a part of a larger organization, Heartland Alliance. IBF's grant will support NIJC's Immigration Court Detained Help Desk Project, which provides legal information and services to detained immigrants at or below 200% of the poverty line through Know Your Rights presentations via videoconferencing to the Pulaski County Detention Center in Southern Illinois. 


FY20 Grant Award: $7,500 to support their Immigration Court Detained Help Desk. 

Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors

Northern Illinois Justice for Our Neighbors (NIJFON) is a faith-based ministry born out of the United Methodist Church whose mission is to provide free, high-quality immigration legal services, engage in education and advocacy, and build a cross-cultural community. IBF's funds will help support monthly legal clinics throughout northern Illinois focusing on immigration issues as well as monthly naturalization workshops. In addition to its clinics and workshops, NIJFON engages community organizations and churches in outreach presentations and trainings regarding immigration law.


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 for general operating support.

North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic

The mission of the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic is to provide accessible, quality pro-bono legal services in the areas of immigration, domestic violence, and housing to give those in need of access to justice the opportunity to live productive and secure lives. IBF funds are used to support all three practice areas. 

FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 for general operating support.

Prairie State Legal Services

The mission of the Prairie State Legal Services (PSLS) is to provide or coordinate the delivery of high-quality legal services to low-income individuals, families, and groups. Funding will support the Telephone Counseling Service, which is essential to providing a prompt assessment of eligibility, providing immediate legal advice and in some cases linkage to the branch offices for more extensive legal representation.


FY20 Grant Award: $17,500 to support their Telephone Counseling Services.


Pro Bono Network

Pro Bono Network (PBN) engages experienced attorneys to help those in need through its innovative model that expands access to justice. PBN finds attorneys who are interested in donating their time and skill, but need an organized infrastructure to serve a variety of its partnered legal aid agency programs, and engages the attorneys in civil legal pro bono work. PBN recruits, trains and manages attorneys, most of whom are beyond practical reach of legal aid agencies. The model increases access to legal services by removing hurdles for attorneys to provide pro bono representation. The programs help some of the most vulnerable in need of representation, namely domestic violence survivors, the elderly, public housing tenants, and immigrants.


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 to support general operations.


Public Interest Law Initiative

Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI)'s mission is to cultivate a lifelong commitment to public interest law and pro bono service within the Illinois legal community to expand the availability of legal services for people, families, and communities in need. PILI will receive funding to support their Pro Bono Initiative Program throughout Illinois, increasing and enhancing the pro bono capacity of law firms, corporations, law schools, and legal service agencies to better meet the legal needs of low-income individuals and families. This support enables PILI to convene four statewide forums and roundtables for participants from across the legal profession to share best practices in pro bono and build strategies for successful programs.


FY20 Grant Award: $15,000 to support their Pro Bono Program.


Riverview Center
Riverview Center's mission is to create a community free of violence. They are a nonprofit agency that provides domestic and sexual violence prevention and intervention services in Jo Daviess and Carroll Counties in Illinois and sexual violence services in 14 counties in Iowa. They provide 24 hour hotlines, advocacy, counseling, and shelter arrangements for hundreds of women, children, and men who are affected by sexual and domestic violence. This grant will help fund their Legal Assistance for Survivors of Domestic Violence Program, which provides Plenary Orders of Protection support including child support and entering petitioner contempt charges at OP violation hearings. 

FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 to support the Legal Assistance for Survivors of Domestic Violence Program

Turning Point
Turning Point’s mission is to confront violence against women and children in McHenry County, IL. The IBF Grant will support the Legal Access Program that work within the legal services program to provide attorney representation to clients with complicated domestic violence cases and those seeking continuances for orders of protection. This attorney representation complements the work done by Legal ADvocates and social services providers at Turning Point. 

FY20 Grant Award: $2,500 to support the Legal Access Program.

Uptown Peoples Law Center

The Uptown People’s Law Center (UPLC)’s vision is that the rule of law should prevail, both in the community and behind prison walls. This means that tenants will not be evicted when they have valid defenses, disabled people will not be denied benefits to which they are lawfully entitled and which they need to survive, and prison officials will follow the law. The IBF will help fund the Prisoners' Rights Project, primarily for the work directed toward providing and supporting pro bono counsel to prisoners in federal civil rights lawsuits as well as supporting UPLC's ongoing prison class action cases.


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 for their Prisoners' Rights Project. 

World Relief DuPage/Aurora

The mission of World Relief is to empower the local church to serve the most vulnerable. In the western suburbs of Chicago, World Relief DuPage/Aurora (WRDA) carries out that mission by partnering with hundreds of churches and volunteers to provide holistic services that empower low-income immigrants to become stable, well-integrated members of the community. These services assist foreign-born families in accessing housing and healthcare, succeeding in their education, preparing for and finding jobs, learning English, healing through trauma counseling, and applying for a wide variety of immigration legal benefits, such as work authorization, family reunification, naturalization, and more.


FY20 Grant Award: $5,000 for their Immigrant Legal Services Program.

FY2020 grantees

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