The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation has awarded more than $1.3 million in state grants to 23 nonprofit programs that provide free legal assistance and information to struggling Illinois residents.
Three of them have direct connections to southern Illinois.
Land of Lincoln Legal Aid, which serves residents in central and southern Illinois and has an office in Carbondale, was awarded a $265,000 grant. The money will fund legal assistance for residents facing consumer and family law issues, as well as a hotline providing legal advice and guidance on how to use the court system.
In addition, the Dispute Resolution Institute, based in Carbondale, was awarded a $20,000 grant to help families resolve custody and visitation issues with mediation services in the First Judicial Circuit. Equip for Equality, which has offices in Carbondale, Springfield, Chicago and Rock Island, was given $75,000.
This funding for 2022 will help more people resolve urgent and life-changing situations like consumer fraud, domestic violence, and family crises.
"I appreciate the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation's work to help ensure that thousands of lower-income Illinois residents have access to the legal support they need," said Attorney General Kwame Raoul. "These grants will fund important legal aid services that allow people throughout Illinois to fight fraud, escape violence, and protect their health and their families."
"Legal problems are often an underlying issue for many people who have fallen on hard times," said Lauren Meachum, IEJF Board President. "Through these grants, the IEJF is helping level the playing field for struggling Illinoisans and ensure more people have a fair shot at successful resolution when their home, safety or livelihood is on the line."
The IEJF was created in 1999 through the Illinois General Assembly's passage of the Equal Justice Act, which recognized the state's responsibility to provide equal access to the justice system by funding civil legal aid programs.