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Access to Justice Grants

Grants to Illinois Nonprofits to Support Increased
Access to Civil Justice for Underserved Populations

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Illinois Bar Foundation (IBF)

Deadline Date:



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Grants to Illinois nonprofit organizations to increase access to civil legal services, support pro-bono legal work, and educate the public about their legal rights. Emphasis is placed on programs serving those with limited means and those that are most vulnerable, such as victims of domestic violence, families facing eviction, or asylum seekers.

The Illinois Bar Foundation’s Access to Justice Grants support organizations around Illinois that provide meaningful access to the civil justice system, especially for those with limited means. Throughout its long history, the Illinois Bar Foundation has sustained and helped create many organizations that provide critical legal support to vulnerable individuals. 

Grants awarded by the Illinois Bar Foundation will support one of three organizational objectives:

  1. Enhance the availability of civil legal aid to those of limited means. Projects funded under this category assist Illinois residents with limited means to resolve their civil legal problems in the most effective way possible. Programs addressing areas of greatest need or with the greatest impact will receive priority.
  2. Encourage pro-bono legal work. Projects funded under this category facilitate pro bono opportunities; provide educational opportunities for pro bono attorneys; or recognize and help sustain the efforts of current pro bono attorneys.
  3. Educate Illinois residents regarding their rights and responsibilities under the law. Projects funded under this category create informational materials for unrepresented Illinois residents with civil legal problems.

The Illinois Bar Foundation funds organizations or projects with a statewide, regional or local impact. All organizations must show evidence of the need and impact of their program. The IBF will entertain projects with a new or innovative approach that require seed money to launch as well as programs that result from collaboration among multiple organizations. New projects must demonstrate their viability by identifying support (financial or other) from the communities they are intended to serve. The Foundation will fund general operating expenses only when the organization’s mission fits squarely within the Illinois Bar Foundation’s grant program objectives. Otherwise, IBF grants will be restricted to specific programmatic support.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 176498

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

The Illinois Bar Foundation awards grants only to 501(c)(3) organizations that serve the State of Illinois and conduct work within IBF’s grant program objectives.

Excluded Activities:
For those organizations, projects or programs that do fall within the grant program objectives identified above, the Illinois Bar Foundation will not fund:
1. Projects that do not directly serve residents of the State of Illinois
2. Projects providing legal aid for criminal matters
3. Endowment campaigns
4. Political activities that are inconsistent with the organization’s tax-exempt status
5. Fundraising benefits or mass appeal solicitations
6. Sectarian organizations (unless participation in the program is not limited by religious affinity)
7. Scholarships for individuals

Pre-Application Information:

The FY21 Grants Cycle has the following deadlines:
- October 15, 2021 - LOI application due in the IBF grants portal.
- December 2021 - Select Organizations will be invited to submit a full application through the online portal.
- January/February 2022 - Full Grant Applications must be submitted through the online portal.
- April/May 2022 - Board Decisions will be announced

The Illinois Bar Foundation utilizes a two-step grant process that will include a letter of inquiry followed by an invitation to submit a grant application.
- Step One: Letter of Inquiry: Interested organizations must submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) through the online portal. ​The purpose of this step is to provide an opportunity for the applicant to briefly introduce the organization and project to the Illinois Bar Foundation, and for the Grants Committee to evaluate whether or not the project fits squarely within the organization’s funding objectives and priorities. Only one LOI per organization will be accepted per funding cycle.
- Step Two: Full Application: After evaluating the LOI, the Illinois Bar Foundation will invite selected organizations to submit a full grant application online. Only those organizations selected will have access to the online application. An invitation to submit a full application should not be interpreted as a guarantee of funding. Rather, the Illinois Bar Foundation will identify those organizations that the Foundation determines are eligible for funding and/or those which require further evaluation.

Grant Guidelines:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Application Portal:

For more information about the Illinois Bar Foundation’s grant guidelines and procedures, contact Stacey Jonas Weiler, Director of Grants and Access to Justice Programs, at 312-920-4693 or

Illinois Bar Foundation
20 South Clark, Suite 910
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312.726.6072
Fax: 312.726.6073

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Illinois

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