FAQs

FY22 (Year Three) Grants Q&A

IEJF has been charged with distributing grant funding to legal aid organizations throughout Illinois to ensure people are able to access legal services in pursuit of cannabis expungement relief created under Public Act 101-0027, the Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act (CRTA). As a result of this funding – financed through moneys collected under the CRTA through licensing fees and taxes – the state appropriation to the Cannabis Expungement Fund for IEJF to provide grants in FY 22 was $1.6M. The budget for FY 22 grants is approximately $1.4M.

As a result of the State’s commitment to ensure people were able to take advantage of the new laws, New Leaf Illinois was created and launched. It operates a network model with a centralized registration, eligibility determination, and referral system. For more information, visit newleafillinois.org.

This Q&A document is to provide program information and vision; details on funded services and funding categories; and programmatic and financial reporting.


Q&A Guide

  1. NEW LEAF ILLINOIS: OVERALL GRANT PROGRAM INFORMATION

 

  1. NEW LEAF’S FY22 (YEAR 3) GRANTS PROCESS & CONSIDERATIONS

 

  1. PROGRAMMATIC & FINANCIAL REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

 


 

NEW LEAF ILLINOIS: OVERALL GRANT PROGRAM INFORMATION


Q.  How does New Leaf Illinois operate as a statewide network?

A. The first round of grants from state appropriations occurred in June of 2020, with a network of 20 grantees, including legal service organizations, community-based organizations, and a technical assistance provider. CARPLS was selected to operate the statewide access point for people seeking legal help with expungement of past cannabis records. New Leaf Illinois was officially launched in November of 2020, after several months of planning, grantee trainings in multiple areas of law impacted by cannabis legalization, and development of materials.

New Leaf Illinois’ operation of a single access point for any person with questions about cannabis expungement was intentional. It makes it a smoother process for people and grantees. Instead of a person having to determine where to call, there is one website or phone number. Instead of each individual legal service grantee screening people for eligibility, CARPLS team conducts the court-record research to make that determination. They are also able to quickly get back in contact with registrants, avoiding closed intakes or waitlists. When eligible, people are directly referred to the legal service organization covering the county where the cannabis record originated.

 

Q. What support is provided to New Leaf Illinois grantees?

A. New Leaf Illinois grantees have the benefit of trainings, developed materials, and marketing information. See attached Resource List at the end of this Q&A document. The goal of all resources is to ensure grantees have the right information and resources to accurately share legal information, provide legal services, and direct people to appropriate resources.


Q. What types of grants are available?

A. There are four funding categories for grants under New Leaf Illinois: (1) Legal Services, (2) Community Outreach, (3) Telephone Advice & Referral Services, and (4) Technical Assistance. Each category has its own evaluation criteria, and in some cases, additional eligibility criteria. Please review the Grant Guidelines found at https://iejf.org/cannabis-expungement/grant-guidelines/ in their entirety.


Q. What are the eligibility requirements for all grants?

A. 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 four areas set forth in the “Purposes” section.  
    • Provide free legal representation or advice to low-income clients seeking expungement of cannabis arrests and convictions under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.
    • Do not charge for services or resources. For organizations with income guidelines, must adhere to income guidelines that includes people whose households have an income of up to 80% of the current Area Median Income (AMI) if available, or Illinois’ Area Median Income.
    • Engage in a network model for service delivery. This requires organizations to take and make referrals from other organizations via secure electronic portal, share data, collaborate, and report on activities using standardized methods.
    • Demonstrate expertise in providing services to individuals with arrest or conviction records through criminal records legal relief or legal education efforts.


Q. What are the limitations for all grants?

A. The following activities are not permitted with funds appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly:

    • 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.
    • Organizations may not deny services on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, heritage, race, religion, or citizenship.
    • 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.

 

Q. Why is “Legal Information for the Public” now called “Community Outreach?”

A. New Leaf’s biggest challenge has been the registration of individuals to receive legal assistance. We need new strategies, many which current grantees are already doing. The grant has been broadened to include multiple outreach strategies of “know your rights” (legal information), direct outreach to individuals and organizations, and the actual registration of people through New Leaf.

IEJF is specifically looking for organizations that are already partnering with or working with the target population of individuals criminalized by cannabis.


Q. What are the unique eligibility requirements for each grant category?

A. Some funding categories for New Leaf Illinois include additional eligibility criteria:

Legal Service Grantees

      • Serve persons in one or more R3 identified disproportionately-impacted jurisdictions.
      • Have been in continuous operation for at least two years prior to the date the application is submitted to the IEJF.
      • Employ two or more full-time, licensed attorneys who provide legal services to low-income persons at the time the application is submitted to the IEJF.

Community Outreach Grantees

      • Provide legal information and community outreach free of charge.
      • Provide legal information as described in the Purpose section of these guidelines. For organizations that do not have licensed attorneys, applicants will agree to confirm the provision of accurate legal information through Network legal organization grantees and commit to training resources on the unauthorized practice of law.
      • Provide legal information on questions commonly faced by members of the public in understanding eligibility for cannabis expungement and impacts of a criminal record.
      • Provide legal information in locations that are accessible to the public. 


Q. Will current grantees have to reapply for funding in FY22?

A. Yes. There are new grant cycles each year, that track along with the state budget that provides continued funding for this work.

 

Q. Will IEJF fund new grantees?

A. Absolutely! The annual open application process for qualifying organizations is to ensure the best minds and brightest ideas are brought to the table to ensure people – throughout the State – know about the services available through New Leaf Illinois.

 

GRANTS PROCESS & CONSIDERATIONS


Q. What services are eligible for funding under the FY22 New Leaf IL Grants?

A. Eligible services under New Leaf Illinois grants depend on the funding category. For Legal Services grantees, it includes all work related to clients with cannabis-related records. This can include the filing of Motions to Vacate and Expunge eligible cannabis convictions, filing Petitions to Expunge cannabis cases resulting in non-convictions, filing Petitions to Seal cannabis convictions that do not qualify for the vacate and expunge process. It also includes efforts to expunge and/or seal other arrest or conviction records for that client. The key is there must be at least one cannabis-related conviction or arrest to be eligible for New Leaf funded services.

For Community Outreach grantees, it includes all efforts t o reach the goals of sharing information and resources to the community. This includes the projected activities in the grant application, in addition to other activities that were included and approved by IEJF.

 

Q. What information must be submitted with the application?

A. Each grant applicant must submit information and documents related to the organization. This includes things such as board lists, current fiscal year budgets, and narratives around history, purpose, and expertise. Information is asked about the specific strategies and projects an applicant proposes to meet the goals of the grant funding. Finally, each applicant must submit numerical projections in specific categories, set goals and objectives, and submit a budget using the template provided.

 

Q. What are the evaluation criteria for all grants?

A. The general evaluation criteria used by IEJF includes the following:

    • Applicant’s experience in providing said service, as indicated by the experience levels and qualifications of key staff and the numbers of persons served through criminal records relief in prior years.
    • Understanding of disproportionate racial and economic impacts of the criminal system, and responses to barriers in reaching most-impacted populations through collaboration or targeted outreach.
    • Location of applicant’s service-delivery and alignment with disproportionately-impacted areas designated by the Restore, Reinvest and Renew (R3) Board by data provided through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA), found at https://icjia.illinois.gov/r3/.
    • Performance under previous Illinois Equal Justice Foundation grants. For organizations that received grants in previous fiscal years, information on how the grant is being used, what services are being provided and if/how the funds increased the capacity of the organization.
    • 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 efficiencies 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.



Q. What are the unique evaluation criteria for each grant category?
 

A. Each funding category for New Leaf Illinois includes additional evaluation criteria:

Legal Service Grantees

      • Demonstrated need for the proposed services, as reflected in the number of eligible clients in the applicant’s service area; current unmet demand; and requests for assistance from other community agencies serving the target populations.
      • Demonstrated experience in providing criminal records relief services to clients.

Community Outreach Grantees

      • Evidence of support for the project from the community, including local government officials, community agencies and others who deal with members of the public who are seeking legal information and resources.
      • History of community engagement and outreach, with clear strategies on targeted audiences and forums.
      • Preference will be given to projects that prioritize the registration of individuals through New Leaf Illinois.
      • Preference will be given to projects that are either statewide or are developing materials or models that can be replicated by other outreach projects in Illinois.
      • Preference will be given for efforts to launch new outreach projects in counties or communities where none exist.
      • Demonstrated need for the proposed services, as reflected by factors such as the number of individuals impacted by arrest and conviction within a service area as designated by the R3 Board by data provided through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA), found at https://icjia.illinois.gov/r3/.

Telephone Advice & Referral Services

      • Demonstrated need for the proposed services, as reflected in the volume of calls received and current unmet demand.
      • Efficient service delivery, which takes into consideration factors such as the relative costs of the applicant’s services; the use of volunteers; the availability of appropriate client self-help materials; and the use of technology to increase client access and streamline case-handling procedures.

Technical Assistance

      • Demonstrated need for the proposed services, as reflected by factors such as the number of requests for information or assistance by individuals, organizations, or system stakeholders.
      • Strategies that are responsive and proactive to New Leaf Illinois grantee needs and prioritize communication on updates and relevant topics.
      • Preference will be given to proposals that consider the state-wide need for technical assistance and strategies for providing services disproportionately-impacted areas designated by the Restore, Reinvest and Renew (R3) Board by data provided through the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA), found at https://icjia.illinois.gov/r3/.

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Q. What will happen if a grantee cannot meet the projections submitted with the grant application?

A. While grantees should make their best efforts to meet projections, funding is provided for staff to provide legal and outreach services, and progress is not based solely on case numbers. IEJF understands that projections can be difficult to make, with many factors that can influence the number of eligible clients. However, returning grantees should make projections based on their actual performance under previous grants.


Q. Do grantees have to use the Budget Template provided?

A. Yes. In an effort to standardize the format for submitted budgets, New Leaf is incorporating a budget template used in other IEJF grant funding. A copy of the budget template can be found here, and includes common categories found in organizational budgets. If you have a question on how a budget item may fit, please reach out to Tyrina Newkirk, IEJF Program Officer, at tnewkirk@iejf.org.


Q. What does the budget narrative require?

A. The budget narrative should include calculations used for computing the budgeted amounts as well as a few sentences for each subcategory (or major cost) which describes the items or services budgeted, their role in the project and the method of allocating those costs.

 

Q. What types of non-personnel expenses are permissible to include?

A. Budgets for Legal Service grantees can include costs related to client services to achieve legal goals. This can include expense related to background checks, court records, drug tests, etc. Budgets for Community Outreach grantees can include the costs of i-pads to assist with registration of community members for New Leaf Illinois services, materials for outreach, food and beverages provided at events, advertising related to events, etc. Finally, any travel or mileage related costs for staff working on this grant can be included.

 

Q. Can staff time spent on attending network meetings and related training be funded by the grant?

A. Yes. Time spent on internal or network training opportunities for cannabis expungement, related cannabis topics, and criminal records in general can be funded under this grant. While this funding is dedicated to ensuring people access cannabis expungement relief, skill and strategy development and collaboration is critical to effective services.

 

PROGRAMMATIC & FINANCIAL REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

Q. How often must reports be submitted to IEJF?

A. Each grantee is required to report on progress toward projections and goals mid-year through the grant period. The mid-year report will be due on December 31, 2022, and the final report will be due on June 30, 2023. Failure to provide timely reports may jeopardize distribution of grant funds, as well as continued IEJF funding.


Q. How are reports submitted?

A. Reports – both programmatic and financial – must be submitted via Foundant, IEJF’s online grant management system. The IEJF will provide the report forms in advance of the due date via the online grant management portal at

https://www.grantinterface.com/Home/Logon?urlkey=IEJF.

Q. What type of information must be included in the mid-year program reports?

A. The type of information required in the mid-year report includes progress toward service projections. These output numbers are entered directly into Foundant and there is a space to answer a few narrative questions: one on successes, the other on challenges. You will also be required to upload a budget to actual document to report on mid-year spending.

Community Outreach grantees will report on the following progress against projections, based on what was submitted in the application. Note, some categories will only apply to organizations that proposed strategies in that area:

Legal Information (Know Your Rights) Efforts
[Number of Events] This includes events in which legal information is presented to the public through an organized forum – in person or virtually.
[Number of Community Member Attendees]
[Number of Service Provider Attendees]
Community Outreach Efforts
[Number of Outreach Events] Includes tabling at an event, participating on panels, being present at larger community gathering, or connecting directly with organizations and individuals
[Number of Materials Distributed] Includes direct distribution of New Leaf materials, such as palm cards, one pagers, etc.
[Number of Individuals Registered] Includes number of people you assist with registering for New Leaf Illinois legal services and eligibility determination
[Number of Organizational Meetings] Includes meetings with organizations or stakeholders to share information on New Leaf for those organizations to share with their constituents or participants
Social Media Efforts
[Number of Social Media Posts] Includes any platform, without a need to differentiate in final reporting.
[Number of Likes/Reactions] IEJF did not require projections on these data points, but grantees should be prepared to report on the impact of social media posts through these metrics. Not all metrics will apply (eg. videos or emails)
[Number of Views (for video content)]
[Number of Shares]
[Number of Emails Sent]
[Number of People Reached]
[Number of Emails Opened]

 

  • Legal Service grantees will report on progress toward the following projections:
Legal Service Outcomes
[Number of People Served] Includes number of individual, unduplicated clients for which cases were opened during the reporting period.
[Number of Services] Includes total number of services provided to each client (eg. one dismissed cannabis case expungement + one vacate and expunge cannabis conviction = 2 services)
[Number of Brief Services] Legal counsel and advice and/or brief services, including drafting pro se petitions.
[Number of Litigation Services] Full representation provided in court for a motion to vacate and expunge, or a petition to expunge/seal cannabis cases.


Q. What type of information must be included in the final program report?

A. The final report – due June 30, 2023 – requires the same information as the mid-year report, with full year updates. However, more detailed reporting is required to deeper picture of the work and the impact. IEJF created and provided a Final Outcomes Report template for Legal Services grantees, which will be recirculated for the third year. This includes outcomes on cannabis cases and client demographic information for all services provided (and funded) during the grant period.

This year, IEJF will also require a more detailed reporting of activities of Community Outreach grantees. This template will be provided, but requires details be kept and reported on the events and organizational meetings reported through the grant period.

Please note: no grantee is required to report identifying case information, such as case number or name. This specific data will only be provided to IEJF for data analysis and reporting and provided in the aggregate to stakeholders as to the cumulative efforts and outcomes of New Leaf Illinois.


Q. What type of information is included in the financial reports?

A. At mid-year and final reports, grantees provide a budget to actual accounting of funds spent during the grant period. Grantees should upload the budget to actual document in excel, using the budget template submitted at the time of application.


Q. What type of documentation is needed for financial reports?

A. IEJF does not require additional documentation to be turned in with the budget report. However, best practice dictates that organizations maintain financial records for expenditures over $500 and seek approval before purchasing or expending grant funds for reasons not in the approved budget.