Grants

Guidelines

 

Background
Availability of Funds
Purposes
Eligibility
Limitations
Timeline for Application & Review
Grant Disbursement
General Evaluation Criteria
Application and Reporting Requirements
For More Information

2019 IL EQUAL JUSTICE FOUNDATION DRAFT GUIDELINES

Background

The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) is a not-for-profit corporation established in 1999, pursuant to the Illinois Equal Justice Act (30 ILCS 765/1 et. seq.).  The IEJF supports initiatives to increase Illinois residents’ access to the legal system.  The IEJF provides grants to nonprofit legal aid providers through a state appropriation housed in the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

Availability of Funds

Attorney General Madigan has requested level funding of $1.4M for the IEJF, however budget negotiations are not yet final for FY 19.  The IEJF will be adding the remaining funds from the Consumer Settlement Funds (awarded by the AG in FY 16) to the FY 19 grant budget.  Depending on the success of the legislative session, the grant budget will range from $1.15M to $2.4M.  The IEJF will be utilizing the same guidelines for both the state appropriation-funded grants and the consumer settlement fund grants.

Purposes

The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation makes grants in five categories:

An organization may apply for funds in more than one category.  Organizations seeking support for more than one of the five purposes must submit a separate application for each category.

At its discretion, the Board may also request proposals from non-profit organizations to conduct research, training and technical assistance regarding legal information for the public, mediation, telephone advice and referral services and/or civil legal assistance.

Eligibility

Organizations are eligible to apply for a grant from the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation if they:

  • Are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code;
  • Provide services to Illinois residents in one or more of the five areas set forth in the “Purposes” section.  To determine if a particular project qualifies for a grant, see the specific guidelines for each of the five categories noted above.
  • Provide services to low-income people free of charge or on a sliding scale based on income. Low-income is defined as a household income of up to 150% of the federal poverty guidelines.  Applicants who charge fees for their legal services are required to provide the IEJF with a copy of their fee schedule.  Legal information for the public, self-help legal assistance and mediation  services, however, must be provided free of charge.

Limitations

  • Funds appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly, including funds distributed by the IEJF, may not be spent on a sectarian purpose.
  • Said funds may not be used for the purpose of lobbying; encouraging political activities, labor or anti-labor activities, boycotts, picketing, strikes or demonstrations; or investigative or legal compliance activities related to a pending dispute.
  • A recipient may not use funds received under the Illinois Equal Justice Act to file an individual action or class action under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act or other labor laws.
  • No more than 10% of grants awarded by the IEJF can be used for overhead costs.  Failure to abide by this may jeopardize future funding from the IEJF.

Timeline for Application & Review

The grant period will be September 1, 2018 – August 31, 2019, and the application and review process will follow this schedule:

June 29, 2018 Applications are available at www.iejf.org. There is a separate application for each funding category.
August 15, 2018 Completed Applications Submitted on Online Portal
September – October 2018 Grant review & site visits
December 2018 Board decisions announced

Grant Disbursement

Grant payments will be disbursed in December, April and June. Payments are dependent on receipt of funds from the state.

General Evaluation Criteria

(see funding category for more specific criteria)

  • Demonstrated need for the proposed services.
  • Applicant’s experience in providing said service, as indicated by the experience levels and qualifications of key staff and the numbers of persons served in prior years.
  • Efficient service delivery which takes into consideration factors such as the relative costs of the applicant’s services; cooperation and coordination with other entities to avoid duplication of effort; the use of volunteers; and the use of technology to increase access to services and to maximize productivity.
  • Sound organizational management, including indices such as the fiscal health of the sponsoring organization; realistic income and expense budgets for the project; evidence of active involvement and oversight by a qualified advisory board and/or board of directors; and demonstrated technical efficiency and protection of client data.
  • Use of evaluative and measurement techniques that measure success, effectiveness, and efficiency as it relates to organizational mission and that are used for learning and improvement.
  • Use of goals and S.M.A.R.T. objectives and outcome measurements.  IEJF requires applicants to provide overarching goals that are supported by objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.  Goals and objectives should be proposed with the initial application, and will be reported on in the mid-term and final reports.  Existing metrics and evaluation systems should at a minimum incorporate the concept of S.M.A.R.T. objectives.  Examples include:
    • Goal:  Decrease the number of seniors suffering from abusive debt collection practices in service area.
      • Objective:  During the grant period, file 20 Fair Debt Collection Practice Act claims on behalf of seniors in service area.
      • Objective:  During the first six months of the grant period, secure debt modifications or eliminations for 35 seniors.
      • Outcome measurements:  Number and value of debts forgiven, amount of attorney fees awarded to organizations, client satisfaction and quality of life improvements.
    • Goal:  Increase the knowledge and understanding of homeless youth about their educational rights.
      • Objective:  Mobilize volunteer attorneys to create know-your-rights materials on public school regulations, producing a comprehensive pamphlet within six months.
      • Objective:  Distribute 125 copies of the know-your-rights materials to homeless youth and their families in the service area from June to August.
      • Outcome measurements:  Increase in knowledge/understanding/confidence in system use by recipients, increased use of education system by recipients, increase in legal representation and/or requests for assistance from homeless population that now understands their rights regarding education.
    • Goal:  Decrease the burden on families and courts during the divorce process in service area.
      • Objective:  Train 10 new family law mediators in three cities in the county over the course of the grant period.
      • Objective:  Provide mediation to completion for 70 clients across the county over the course of the grant period.
      • Outcome measurements:  Participant feedback on fairness/equity/satisfaction/speed/confidence building, agreement rates, reduction in divorce-related court hearings and/or filings.
    • Goal:  Increase access to justice for self-represented litigants at the local courthouse.
      • Objective:  Recruit 40 new volunteers to staff the organization’s self-help desks by conducting two outreach events and training sessions in September at the local law school.
      • Objective:  Over the next six months, pilot new self-help center software by providing services to 1,500 clients.
      • Outcome measurements:  Increased speed and volume at desk, decrease in number of SRL forms rejected by the court, increase in success rates for SRL, improvements in collaboration with clerk staff.
  • Performance under previous Illinois Equal Justice Foundation grants. For organizations that received grants in fiscal year 2018 and are seeking a renewal, information on how the grant is being used, what services are being provided and if/how the funds increased the capacity of the organization.

Grant requests will be evaluated on the factors listed above, the criteria listed under each funding category as well as those outlined in the Illinois Equal Justice Act.

The IEJF is committed to equitable salaries for legal aid providers and encourages applicants to develop a reasonable pay scale, training and support program for its personnel to ensure that client services are not interrupted by unplanned staff turnover.

The IEJF subscribes to Illinois Nonprofit Principles and Best Practices and encourages applicants to strive to adopt the Best Practices pertinent to their organization. The Best Practices were developed by Forefront Illinois, endorsed by the Illinois Attorney General and available at https://myforefront.org/publictrust.

Application and Reporting Requirements

Applications must be submitted electronically by August 15, 2018.

Application procedures and forms will be available by June 29, 2018 at www.iejf.org under the Grants tab.  From there, you can login to the grant portal.  The “Apply” button on the top left will allow you to select your funding category and apply.

Grant reports must be submitted via the online portal as well.

All grantees must submit a brief mid-term report on their activities on or by April 15, 2019.  Grantees must state whether or not they can spend the grant funds in the time and manner allocated in this report.  All funds must be expended by by August 31, 2019.  The IEJF reserves the right to re-grant funds if deemed necessary.

A detailed final report will be due on or by September 20, 2019.  Failure to submit reports in a timely manner may jeopardize future IEJF funding.

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For More Information

For more information about the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation’s grant guidelines and procedures, contact Zach Zarnow, Program Director, at 312-938-2106. You can also contact Mr. Zarnow via e-mail at zzarnow@iejf.org

To learn more about the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, click here.

Approved by the Grant Committee, May 17, 2018.

PUBLIC POSTING PERIOD MAY 29 – JUNE 12.  Address any comments via email to zzarnow@iejf.org.