Learn more about the incredible pro bono and legal aid organizations serving our community!

Each month, the Investing in Justice Campaign in Action blog series focuses on a different project or organization you are supporting through the Campaign.

Your generous support makes it possible for the CBF grants program to invest in the entire pro bono and legal aid system and make an impact that none of us could on our own. CBF grants now total about $3 million each year, supporting dozens of pro bono and legal aid organizations serving the Chicago area and a number of innovative projects that are making a longer term impact. Each day, thousands of people in need receive help as a result of the CBF’s grants, including domestic violence victims, people at risk of losing their homes, immigrants fleeing abuse, and many other low-income and disadvantaged people in the Chicago area. See the fiscal year 2016 grants.

CBF grants:

  • support dozens of outstanding pro bono and legal aid organizations serving our community
  • help dedicated attorneys pursue legal aid careers
  • make it possible for pro bono attorneys to most effectively make a difference
  • underwrite court-based help desks and pro bono projects that make the justice system more user-friendly and accessible for people in need

The civil legal needs of low-income people run the gamut, from very simple questions that can be answered online or by court help desks, to complex problems that require hours of specialized representation. This calls for an integrated legal aid system providing a range of services. The CBF supports such a continuum of legal services to help people in need, ranging from web-based resources to legal aid hotlines and advice desks, to full representation and larger impact litigation and advocacy.

The demand for legal aid services in our community is great. There are now more than 1.4 million low-income Cook County residents—more than 1 in 4 in the Chicago area—who are eligible for legal aid. About half of them will have a civil legal need over the next year. Cook County’s pro bono and legal aid delivery system is a vital part of both the justice system and our community’s safety net, yet due to limited resources can only serve fewer than half of those in need.

The CBF awards four main types of grants each year:

  1. Organizational Support Grants
  2. Special Project Grants
  3. Fellowships and Scholarships
  4. Other Grants, such as CBF Young Professionals Board grants and paying for the CBA membership for attorneys at our grantee organizations

In FY16, over $2 million of the CBF’s grants were made possible by the 10th Annual Investing in Justice Campaign, thanks to more than $1.5 million in individual donations, a number of generous matching contributions from participating firms and companies and additional foundation and government funding the CBF is able to leverage through the Campaign grants process. The funds raised through the Campaign help leverage significantly more funding from The Chicago Community Trust’s Chicago Area Fund for Legal Assistance; funds from Cook County, the U.S. District Court, and the City of Chicago to support court-based advice desks and pro bono projects; and other funding partners.


For more information about CBF grants, contact Dina Merrell at 312-554-1206 or