The IEJF awards grants to organizations providing legal assistance and information as part of the IL Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN). IL-AFLAN is a one-stop shop where veterans, military members, and their dependents can obtain free legal help to:

  • access hard-earned benefits
  • obtain discharge upgrades
  • solve other urgent problems like family law and housing issues

Since its launch in 2017, IL-AFLAN has helped more than

18,000 heroes.


Organizations are eligible to apply for a grant 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 areas set forth in the “Purposes” section.  To determine if a particular project qualifies for a grant, see the specific guidelines for each of the categories noted above;
  • Provide services to low-income veterans, active duty military, members of the national guard, reservists, or the spouses or dependents of same in actions that are not adverse to the veteran or service member;
  • Adhere to income guidelines for the low-income client population that includes people whose households’ have an income up to 80% of the current Chicago Area Median Income (AMI). The City of Chicago and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development update AMI calculations yearly. Current AMI can be found on the City of Chicago website:;
  • Demonstrate a willingness to engage in a network model for service delivery. This will require organizations to take and make referrals from the hotline and other organizations via the secure electronic portal, share data, collaborate, and report on activities using standardized methods. Programs will be expected to regularly log on to the portal for network announcements, accepting and closing out referrals, and to review data and program documents and policies. This will also require a willingness to co-brand activities under the “Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network” and/or “IL-AFLAN” moniker, attend network events, and help publicize the network;
  • Demonstrate the expertise of staff in providing services to active duty military members or veterans who will be directly involved in proposed grant-funded activities. It is further expected that staff or volunteers without such expertise will undergo initial and ongoing training to ensure competency;
  • Utilize outcome and impact tracking to measure and evaluate the benefits of any and all services provided. Grant contracts will require organizations to use standardized measurements developed for network member activities. Particular attention will be paid to defining a nexus between military service and the legal problem addressed.


Public Act 99-0281 creates the Access to Justice Fund in the State treasury, financed by a fee of $2 on the filing of the first pleading, paper, or other appearance by each party in all civil cases. The money available in the Fund therefore fluctuates with the volume of civil filings. The current amount available for FY24/Year 8 grants is approximately $900,000. Receipt of a grant in one grant cycle does not guarantee funding in the next grant cycle. All organizations must reapply if they seek continued funding.

Important Note Regarding the Illinois Grant Funds Recovery Act

These funds are subject to the Illinois Grant Funds Recovery Act (30 ILCS 705/5). Please familiarize yourself with the Act before applying.


General Evaluation Criteria

(see funding category for more specific criteria)

  • Demonstrated need for the proposed services.
  • 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.
  • 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 monitoring techniques that measure success, effectiveness, and efficiency as it relates to organizational mission and that are used for learning and improvement.
  • Use of goals and S.M.A.R.T. objectives.  IEJF requires applicants to provide overarching goals that are supported by objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.  Goals and objectives should be proposed with the initial application, and will be reported on in the mid-term and final reports.  Existing metrics and evaluation systems should at a minimum incorporate the concept of S.M.A.R.T. objectives to achieve goals and outcome measurements to evaluate progress toward goals.


Timeline for Application and Review

  • February 14, 2024 – Applications available. There is a separate application for each funding category.

  • March 15, 2024 – Completed applications & proposals due

  • March – May, 2024 – Grant review & site visits

  • May 2024 – Council Meeting

  • June 2024 – Decisions announced


  • Funds 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.
  • Funds may not be used for legal actions by a spouse or dependent that are adverse to the veteran or active duty military member.
  • Funds may not be used to provide services to veterans with a dishonorable discharge.
  • Funds may not be used to support criminal law services.
  • 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.


You can apply via the IEJF grantee portal.  The “Apply” button on the top left will allow you to select your funding category and apply.

Grantees must state whether or not they can spend the grant funds in the time and manner allocated in this report. The IEJF reserves the right to re-grant funds if deemed necessary.


Contact Zach Zarnow, IL-AFLAN Program Manager

For more information on IL-AFLAN, visit


All grantees must submit a mid-term and a final report on their activities.  The IEJF will provide the report forms in advance of the due date via the online grant management portal.  Grantees must state whether or not they can spend the grant funds in the time and manner allocated in this report. The IEJF reserves the right to re-grant funds if deemed necessary.  Failure to submit reports in a timely manner or to utilize standardized evaluative methods may jeopardize future IEJF funding.


Current IL-AFLAN grantees should submit their grant reports via their dashboard in our grantee portal.

  • Midterm report due January 31, 2024.
  • Final report due July 31, 2024.


  • Midterm report due January 31, 2025.
  • Final report due July 31, 2025.

If you are a current or former member of the military who needs legal help, please contact IL-AFLAN directly to speak to an attorney. Call 855-452-3526 Monday – Friday from 9 am – 4:30 pm. Please call when you have time to talk with a lawyer and have all relevant documents in front of you.

“I can think of no better way to salute the service of our veterans than to protect their legal rights since they fought so hard to protect our rights.”

– Trish McGill, Chair, IL Access to Justice Council & Counsel, Verizon