Access to Justice Commission Accepting Applications from Illinois Courts for Grant Initiative

illinois court form

The Illinois Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission (ATJ Commission) and the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts Access to Justice Division (AOIC ATJ Division) are accepting applications for a grant initiative to support Illinois courts in improving access to justice (ATJ Improvement Grant).

Applications for the grants must be submitted by email to Jill Roberts, Deputy Director, Access to Justice Division, AOIC at before 5 p.m. on June 28, 2024.

In addition, the organizations also invite Illinois court personnel who assist self-represented litigants (SRLs) and work on access to justice to join the Court Navigator Network, which provides training and support for courthouse personnel who assist SRLs and other court users.

ATJ Improvement Grant

ATJ Improvement Grants can be used by the courts for projects or needs that advance access to justice; diversity, equity, and inclusion; or procedural fairness in their courthouse, according to the Commission on Access to Justice.

Examples may include buying paper, ink, and/or printers to print statewide forms, performing plain language and accessibility assessments of informational materials, or improving signage (find a full list of examples here).

In August 2023, 30 grants were awarded. These grants were used for:

  • Updating or creating SRL workspaces, self-help centers, and Zoom rooms for virtual proceedings
  • Updating or creating mobile apps, online chatbots, and text message reminder systems
  • Improving informational materials
  • Replacing furniture, including baby changing stations

Each grant recipient is required to have a Project Lead, who can be anyone working at a courthouse in Illinois who has a demonstrated knowledge of the challenges faced by SRLs, familiarity with court operations and the local legal community, and an interest in improving access to justice.

The grant recipients will be required to submit mid-year and year-end reports to the AOIC with information on project activities, opportunities and challenges, the number of individuals served, and grant expenditures. They will also present to the Court Navigator Network about the project.

The grants will be for one year, from August 1, 2024, to July 31, 2025.

Court Navigator Network

All ATJ Improvement Grant recipients will automatically be enrolled in the Court Navigator Network. Courts can also apply to join the Network without applying for the ATJ Improvement Grant.

Through the Network, members serve as a link between their courthouse and those across the state, sharing ideas, developing resources, and establishing programs that support SRLs.

Network members say that cross-jurisdictional information sharing is the most beneficial aspect of the program.

The members attend (in-person or virtual) trainings addressing topics such as:

  • Information vs. legal advice
  • Making referrals
  • Customer service
  • Implicit bias
  • Assisting people who are dealing with mental illness
  • Plain language, and more.

Those who are interested in joining the Network without applying for the ATJ Improvement Grant should submit Section I of the application only. Submissions should be emailed to Jill Roberts, Deputy Director, Access to Justice Division, AOIC at before 5 p.m. on June 28, 2024.

For more information, click here.

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