The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) announced awards today of over $1.3 million in grants to 16 not-for-profit organizations providing legal assistance to Illinoisans in legal crisis.  The grants range in scope from funding for web-based legal information resources and telephone advice hotlines to mediation and full-scale litigation services.  Since its inception in 1999, the IEJF has awarded approximately $23.3 million to organizations across the state serving the civil legal needs of over 542,000 Illinoisans.

Four organizations were added to the grant list this year including the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, John Marshall Law School’s Conflict Resolution Institute, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and the Uptown Peoples Law Center.  Click here for a list of all the 2015 grant awards.

The IEJF was established by the Illinois Equal Justice Act in 1999.  The Act established a state appropriation for civil legal aid.  Funding for the appropriation passes through the Attorney General’s Office.

“Legal aid is a sound investment of state dollars,” said Daniel P. Broadhurst, president of the IEJF.  “Illinois Equal Justice Foundation grants ensure all residents have access to the justice system.  These civil legal aid programs build stronger communities and a stronger Illinois.”

The high water mark for the legal aid appropriation was $3.5 million in 2007, which was slashed 50% in 2010.  State funding was cut an additional 20% in fiscal year 2013 to $1.4 million where it stands today.  Of the ten most populous states, Illinois ranks ninth in what it spends on critical civil legal aid services.  The average spent among these similarly populated states is $14.7 million.

To learn more about the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation and the Equal Justice Illinois Campaign, the bi-partisan effort to protect the state appropriation for civil legal aid , please click here.