The CBF’s grants are awarded through a comprehensive screening and evaluation process that carefully vets organizations and projects before they receive funding. The CBF’s grants process is overseen by a highly regarded board of lawyers and judges who are broadly representative of Chicago’s legal community, with the assistance of experienced CBF staff. CBF Board members, along with members of the CBF Young Professionals Board, join staff in making visits to the organizations applying for funding to better inform the Board in making the grant decisions.
As is the case with most foundations, the CBF always receives requests exceeding the amount we have available to award. Therefore, the CBF has designed a rigorous process that: ensures accountability and strategically allocates funds to maximize impact; leverages additional support from government and other sources; and promotes best practices on common issues and collective challenges facing pro bono and legal aid organizations. When making grant decisions, the CBF takes into account the impact an organization has, including the number of people served by the organization and the area of law or community they are serving. Other important factors considered include whether the organization has a sound vision for what it is trying to accomplish and a solid sense of where the organization is headed; whether it has strong and responsive staff and board leadership; whether the organization effectively coordinates and collaborates with other relevant organizations; and whether it has sound financial management.
The CBF is committed to striving for excellence and transparency in all of our work, managing our resources effectively, and adhering to the highest ethical standards in our governance and management. We expect the same of the organizations we fund and hold ourselves to the same standards as the organizations we support.