(CHICAGO)…. On December 5, 2017 the Board of Directors of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) approved grants totaling $2,465,000 to 34 Illinois civil legal aid providers.
Grants were made possible with funding from the state appropriation for civil legal aid as well as settlement funds awarded to the IEJF by Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
Sixteen grants were funded by the state appropriation, including the HANA Center, a new grantee. A list of the grant awards is attached. Since its inception in 1999, the IEJF has awarded $24.3 million state-funded grants to organizations across the state serving the civil legal needs of approximately 560,000 Illinoisans.
Twenty-six grants were funded by the settlement funds. Four new organizations were added including the Community Activism Law Alliance, Family Defense Center, James B Moran Center for Youth Advocacy and Working Family Solidarity. The grant list is attached. Last year’s settlement fund grant awards provided 21,734 legal information, advice, mediation and representation services to low-income families, seniors and veterans in crisis.
The IEJF was established by the Illinois Equal Justice Act in 1999. The Act established a state appropriation for civil legal aid. Funding for the appropriation passes through the Attorney General’s Office.
“Illinois Equal Justice Foundation grants ensure that all state residents have equal access to the justice system,” said Richard M. Levin, president of the IEJF. “Civil legal aid is a sound investment of state dollars. These programs help to protect families, enhance our communities and build a stronger Illinois.”
The civil legal aid appropriation was not funded during the two-year state budget impasse. The high water mark for the legal aid appropriation was $3.5 million in 2007, which was slashed 50% in 2010. State funding was cut an additional 20% in fiscal year 2013 to $1.4 million where it stands today. Of the ten most populous states, Illinois ranks eighth in what it spends on critical civil legal aid services. The average spent among these similarly populated states is $19.8 million.
To learn more about the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation and the Equal Justice Illinois Campaign, the b-partisan effort to protect the state appropriation for civil legal aid for the poor, please visit www.iejf.org.