Who We Are

The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) is a 501-C3 organization that funds civil legal aid programs in Illinois to champion the rights of those burdened by barriers to justice.  We distribute state of Illinois funding to nonprofit organizations that provide free legal assistance, information and online resources to people who can’t afford a lawyer.

Since our first grant cycle in 2000, we’ve awarded more than $47 Million in state grants to help struggling families, seniors, veterans, and people victimized by the criminalization of cannabis possession.

We view the law as a powerful tool for good.  

Our Vision & Strategic Plan

We want to make it easier and more equitable for people to access and navigate our civil justice system. No one should face a life-changing legal problem like eviction, domestic violence, or child custody on their own.

More than that, we believe access to legal aid is an issue of racial and economic justice.  And in the face of growing and systemic inequality, we must redouble our commitment to justice for all.

That’s why we have developed a four-year Strategic Plan that positions us to better serve the evolving needs of Illinois’ legal aid organizations and the marginalized communities they serve.

Our Values


We utilize an evidence-based, transparent, and standardized grantmaking process to ensure internal and grantee statute and rules compliance.


We are committed to diversity in our hiring of staff, contractors, board membership, and grantee selection decision-making.


We seek to increase access to legal representation for populations most impacted by the lack of legal resources.


We pursue and values alternative points of view, treats all interactions with respect, and partners with and funds entities across the state that share these principles.

Our History

The IEJF was created in 1999 through the Illinois General Assembly’s passage of the Equal Justice Act, which recognized the state’s responsibility to provide equal access to the justice system by funding civil legal aid programs.

Over the past 20 years, we have helped keep families housed during the foreclosure crisis, recovered millions in funds for seniors victimized by scams, led the creation of legal self-help centers across the state, and developed three statewide legal aid networks.

“Thanks to the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, tens of thousands of our most vulnerable residents have had an advocate fighting for them in court when their homes, safety and livelihoods were at stake."

- Former Chief Justice Anne Burke, Illinois Supreme Court

Our Leadership

The IEJF is led by an executive and grantmaking staff and governed by a board of directors, appointed by the Illinois State Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Association.