The IEJF makes grants to provide mediation services to Illinois residents, as an efficient and cost-effective alternative to traditional legal processes.  The IEJF will support selected mediation programs whose purpose is to improve access to just resolutions of disputes for those who might not otherwise have such access.

Grants to support mediation services will be made to dispute resolution centers, which are not-for-profit organizations that offer free mediation services to the public that are provided by trained volunteers.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions, virtual mediation services and centers will be considered.

For the purposes of these guidelines, mediation is defined as a voluntary process in which an impartial mediator actively assists disputants in identifying and clarifying issues of concern and in designing and agreeing to solutions for those issues.   A mediator is defined as a person who has received at least 30 hours of training in the areas of negotiation, nonverbal communication, agreement writing, neutrality and ethics.

Use of Grant Funds

In the Mediation Services category, the IEJF will consider support for:

  • New Dispute Resolution Centers: To increase the availability of mediation services throughout Illinois, the IEJF will consider applications for “start-up” grants to new dispute resolution centers – including those that have begun operation and those that will begin offering services during the grant period – that can demonstrate the ability to provide mediation services in accordance with these guidelines.
  • Existing Dispute Resolution Centers: The IEJF will consider applications for operating support from existing dispute resolution centers. These operating expenses include staff salaries and benefits, as well as other costs directly related to providing mediation services including activities required to measure success, effectiveness and efficiency as it relates to organizational mission and that are used for learning and improvement.


In the Mediation Services category, the IEJF will only consider applications from Illinois-based not-for-profit organizations that:

  • Provide free mediation services to disputants.
  • Provide mediation services using volunteers who have received at least 30 hours of training as mediators.
  • Have operating procedures in place that demonstrate compliance with Section 5 of the Illinois Not-for-Profit Dispute Resolution Center Act (710 ILCS 20/5), including:
    • Operating an ongoing peer review program for mediators;
    • Scheduling mediations within 30 days of the commencement of a case;
    • Maintaining records on mediated cases;
    • Advising parties of the objectives of mediation, their roles and the mediator’s role;
    • Considering disputes resolved when there is a written agreement.

Evaluation Criteria

(see criteria listed in Overview Section as well)

Grant applications in the Mediation Services category will be evaluated based on:

  • Demonstrated need for the proposed services, as reflected in the actual or anticipated demand for mediation services; the support of actual or potential referral sources, such as judges, legal services providers, social service agencies, and local government officials; and the extent to which mediation services are otherwise available in the program’s service area.
  • Applicant’s ability to provide mediation services, as indicated by the experience levels and qualifications of key staff; the number of trained volunteers and/or the ability to attract new volunteers; the numbers of mediations held in prior years; the ability to provide the required training to potential volunteers.
  • Efficient delivery of mediation services, which takes into consideration factors such as the methods for receiving case referrals; the number of cases referred to mediation compared to the number of cases actually mediated; and the relative costs of the applicant’s services.