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On June 28, 2023, the Board of Directors of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation approved $1,440,000 in grants to nonprofit legal aid and community-based organizations across the state to ensure impacted Illinoisans can access expungement relief provided in the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.

The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation was charged with distributing state appropriations to legal aid and advocacy organizations throughout Illinois to aid in the implementation of cannabis expungement relief. During the first year of funding, New Leaf Illinois was created and launched, a network model with a statewide, centralized registration and referral system to network grantees. Grantee organizations conduct outreach and provide legal education on cannabis expungement and available assistance, determine legal eligibility for relief, and provide legal representation to income-eligible clients for no cost in all 102 Illinois counties.

CIVIL LEGAL ASSISTANCE GRANTS ($820,000)

Prairie State Legal Services ($200,000)

Represents people within its 36-county service area in northern and central Illinois, including the cities of Waukegan, Rockford, Peoria, Joliet, Bloomington, and Kankakee, referred through the New Leaf Network, its Statewide Helpline, partner organizations, or community events.


Land of Lincoln Legal Aid ($200,000)

Represents people within its 65-county service area in southern and central Illinois, including the cities of East St. Louis, Springfield, Champaign, and Carbondale, referred through the New Leaf Network, partner organizations, outreach events, clinics, court-based help desks, or its Legal Advice and Referral Center (LARC).


Legal Aid Chicago ($110,000)

Represents people in Chicago and suburban Cook County referred through the New Leaf Network, community-based partners, LAC’s Client Screening Unit, or its expungement intake line.


Greater Chicago Legal Clinic ($115,000)

Represents people in Chicago and suburban Cook County, referred from the New Leaf Network, community partners, or through its staffing of the Chicago expungement and sealing court call.


Cabrini Green Legal Aid ($60,000)

Represents people negatively impacted by the criminal legal system in in Cook County, referred from the New Leaf Network, partner organizations, help desks, community summits, through its staffing of the Chicago expungement and sealing court call, as well as cases in counties where the local legal aid provider has a conflict of interest.


James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy ($55,000)

Represents people who live in disinvested R3 neighborhoods in Cook County, primarily with cases stemming from the Second Municipal District (Skokie), referred from the New Leaf Network, its Skokie Expungement & Sealing Help Desk, partner organizations, or community-based legal clinics.


Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services ($55,000)

Represents people in Chicago and Cook County, referred from the New Leaf Network, Metropolitan Peace Initiatives (MPI), and Communities Partnering for Peace (CP4P) Justice Corps.


The Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless ($25,000)

Represents people experiencing or at the risk of homelessness, referred from the New Leaf Network, community partners, outreach at shelters, schools, drop-in centers, and community events.


TELEPHONE ADVICE AND REFERRAL SERVICES ($300,000)

Coordinated Advice & Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS) ($300,000)

Operates the New Leaf web portal and hotline, which serves as a centralized point of entry to assist people with accessing cannabis expungement relief. Staff reviews criminal history records and assesses eligibility for a wide range of relief under the Illinois Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act. Services include legal information, self-help instruction, document review and preparation, legal consultations, and referrals to the network of Legal Service providers.


COMMUNITY OUTREACH GRANTS ($320,000)

Prairie State Legal Services ($110,000)

Conducts outreach and provides education through its Community Engagement Department for people disproportionately impacted by poverty and past cannabis offenses throughout its 36 northern and central county service area.


Cannabis Equity Coalition ($65,000)

Provides in-person and digital education programming, hosts programs, and coordinates resources fairs for communities impacted by the War on Drugs, primarily on the South and West sides of Chicago.


Equip for Equality ($10,000)

Educates people with disabilities, their families, and service providers on their legal rights throughout Illinois with offices in Chicago, Rock Island, Springfield, and Carbondale.


Alliance of Local Service Organizations ($22,500)

Provides in-person and digital legal information and community outreach, in English and Spanish, for 10 impacted Chicago West and Northwest neighborhoods, including Humboldt Park, West Humboldt Park, Avondale, Albany Park, Hermosa, Irving Park, Logan Square, Belmont Craigin, Portal Park, and West Town.


Illinois Legal Aid Online ($30,000)

Provides legal information, resources, and referrals for cannabis expungement, as well as other emerging cannabis-related issues, through its mobile accessible and ADA compliant website.


Instituto del Progreso Latino ($22,500)

Provides legal information and conducts outreach through on-line and social media events, resource fairs, and partner meetings to the Latinx and bilingual Spanish/English speaking population in southwest Chicago.


Farmworker Landscaper & Advocacy Project ($10,000)

Provides legal information to low-income Latines workers on cannabis expungement through its Know Your Rights programs conducted in partnership with the Mexican Consulate in Chicago and through its Mobile Unit.


Coordinated Advice & Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS) ($20,000)

Conducts outreach through community events, social media, canvassing, and direct contact to community members and governmental contacts.


First Defense Legal Aid (FDLA) ($30,000)

Provides legal education and know your rights workshops for community members to know and enforce their rights, with an emphasis on the South and West Side neighborhoods of Chicago.