The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) makes grants to help Illinois residents understand how to use the legal system to resolve a problem.
In the Legal Information for the Public category, the IEJF will consider support for two types of projects:
- Legal Information Centers: Legal information centers are designed to operate as a “starting point” for people who are considering the use of the legal system to resolve a problem. A legal information center will offer printed, video and/or Internet-based materials on topics such as the operation of the court system; how to obtain legal representation; legal rights and responsibilities in various substantive areas of the law; and alternatives to litigation. Legal information centers will be located in libraries, courthouses, or other locations that are accessible to the public. A goal of the IEJF is to support the development of legal information centers throughout Illinois.
- Legal Information Projects: Legal information projects are efforts that complement legal information centers by helping Illinois residents who are unable to obtain or do not have legal representation to understand and resolve their legal problems in accordance with applicable law and court procedures. Legal information projects can include: the preparation and distribution of self-help packets that include legal information, forms and instructions; pro se classes taught by attorneys; and/or other creative efforts to help give Illinois residents the information and resources to resolve their legal problems on their own when appropriate.
Use of Grant Funds
In the Legal Information for the Public category, the IEJF will make grants to support:
- Operating costs for legal information centers and legal information projects, including personnel costs.
- The creation and distribution of legal information and self-help materials.
In the Legal Information for the Public category, the IEJF will only consider applications from Illinois-based not-for-profit organizations that:
- Provide legal information free of charge.
- Provide legal information as described in the Purpose section of these guidelines under the supervision of a licensed attorney, the court, or for legal matters where accredited non-attorney representatives are permitted to provide services (e.g., immigration and tax matters), a representative accredited by the appropriate administrative agency to provide services in matters pending before that agency.
- Provide legal information in areas of the law that include problems commonly faced by members of the public (e.g., family law, consumer and credit issues, housing, immigration), including areas of the law that affect lower-income Illinois residents.
- Provide legal information in a location that is accessible to the public.
In the Legal Information for the Public category, the IEJF will not consider proposals for:
- Telephone-based services;
- Civil legal services programs’ efforts to provide legal information and self-help assistance as part of their screening and intake systems;
- General efforts to inform the public about the law, such as Law Day activities; the development and dissemination of law-related curricula to schools; essay contests; or other community legal education initiatives that are not designed to help people address specific legal problems; and
- Legal information and self-help projects involving issues of criminal law.
(see criteria listed in Overview Section as well)
Applications in the Legal Information for the Public category will be evaluated based on:
- Demonstrated need for the proposed services, as reflected by factors such as the number of pro se filings in the applicant’s service area, and evidence of support for the project from judges, court clerks, legal services providers, bar leaders, librarians, local government officials and others who deal with members of the public who are seeking legal information.
- Preference will be given for efforts to establish new legal information centers in counties where none exist.
- Preference will be given to projects that are either statewide or are developing materials or models that can be replicated by other legal information centers in Illinois.
- Preference will be given for efforts to provide legal information to vulnerable populations such as immigrants, physically and mentally disabled people, homeless people and senior citizens.