General Evaluation Criteria
Grant requests will be evaluated on the factors listed below and the criteria listed under each funding category.
- Demonstrated need for the proposed services and location of applicant’s service-delivery to ensure geographical reach throughout the State of Illinois.
- 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.
- Commitment to services for vulnerable and underserved populations.
- 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, learning, and improvement are encouraged.
- Use of Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.) objectives are encouraged.
- Service projections should be proposed with the initial application and progress toward those goals will be reported monthly.
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.
Civil Legal Assistance Grants
The IEJF Eviction Response grants will focus on the following two priority areas:
- Eviction Response Legal Services: This includes legal advice, consultations, limited services, full representation, and telephone hotline services in eviction and housing matters.
- Online Legal Information and Triage Services. These services enable Illinois residents to receive online legal information, triage, and referral services for eviction and housing matters, mediation and available rental assistance.
Use of Grant Funds
Grants will be made to support staff or contract positions at eligible legal services providers, including attorneys, paralegals, program staff, and/or pro bono coordinators. Grant funds can be used to pay for salaries, benefits, and other allowable costs directly related to supporting the positions. Indirect costs are limited to no more than 10% unless the organization has a higher negotiated rate. The applicant must demonstrate how the proposed staff or contract positions will help the organization provide efficient and effective legal assistance to people in one or both of the priority areas.
In the Civil Legal Assistance category, the IEJF will only consider applications from Illinois-based not-for-profit organizations that:
- Serve persons in one or both of the two priority areas listed above (Eviction Response Legal Services and Online Legal Information and Triage Services.
- For eviction response legal services, employ licensed attorneys to provide legal services, who can be supplemented by law students or other non-attorneys acting under the supervision of licensed attorneys.
Grant applications in the Civil Legal Assistance category will be evaluated based on (in addition to criteria listed in Overview Section):
- Organizational capacity and experience in providing legal services in eviction cases.
- Organizational experience in facilitating referrals to non-legal organizations to address the legal crisis, such as housing or financial counselors, other social service providers, and rental assistance programs.
- 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.
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.
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 to expand services in response to the eviction crisis. These operating expenses include staff salaries and benefits, as well as other costs directly related to providing mediation services.
- Mediator Training: The IEJF will consider applications for operating support from existing dispute resolution centers aiming to increase the State’s capacity to provide mediation services through training of new mediators or Eviction Response training for existing mediators.
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 mediators who have received at least 30 hours of training as mediators.
- Provide training for mediation services to increase the State’s capacity.
- 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.
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 mediators and/or the ability to attract new mediators; 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.