The IEJF awards grants to organizations to provide legal services to help people clear cannabis convictions off their record as part of New Leaf Illinois. New Leaf Illinois is a statewide network of nonprofit organizations who are committed to equal justice for all those who were previously arrested or convicted for cannabis use, production and sale.


“Through New Leaf Illinois, the IEJF is giving many Illinoisans a shot at a better future by removing a major barrier to getting a job and housing, while boosting people’s self-worth in the process.”

Illinois Lt. Governor Julianna Stratton


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. To determine if a particular project qualifies for a grant, see the specific guidelines for each of the four categories noted above.
  • Provide free legal representation or advice to low-income clients seeking expungement of cannabis convictions under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.
  • Adhere to income guidelines that includes people whose households have an income of 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 annually. Current AMI can be found on the City of Chicago website:
  • 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.


The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation will make New Leaf Illinois grants in three categories:

An organization may apply for funds in more than one category.  Organizations seeking support for more than one of the four purposes must submit a separate application for each category.


  • 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.


The grant period will be 06/01/2024 – 05/31/2025, and the application and review process will follow this schedule:

  • March 1, 2024 – Applications available at
    There is a separate application for each funding category.

  • April 1, 2024 – Completed applications & proposals due

  • April 15 – April 19, 2024 – Grant review & site visits

  • June 2024 – Board decisions announced


Grant payments will be disbursed in June 2024 and February 2025.  Payments are dependent on receipt of the funds from the state as well as the receipt and acceptance of the midyear report.


Public Act 101-0027 creates the Cannabis Expungement Fund in the State treasury, financed through moneys collected under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. The state appropriation to the Cannabis Expungement Fund for Illinois Equal Justice Foundation to fund civil legal aid in FY23 was $1.6M. The money available in the Fund is based on licensing fees and taxes generated through the Act. The budget for FY 24 grants is approximately $1.44M.  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.


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.


More information on New Leaf Illinois can be found at

For further information or questions, contact Beth Johnson, New Leaf Illinois Coordinator.


All grantees must submit a brief midterm 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 at 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.

Applications are due electronically by April 1, 2024.

  • Midterm reports due December 31, 2024.
  • Final reports due June 30, 2025.

You can submit your grant reports via your dashboard in our grantee portal.