Grantmaking Process

Chicago Bar Foundation’s Robust Grantmaking Process Empowers Donors to Support Legal Aid and Pro Bono Organizations

As a donor, you can take pride in the CBF’s robust grantmaking process. The CBF has a long history of working with and funding legal aid and pro bono organizations in Chicago and has extensive knowledge of the delivery system. The CBF’s comprehensive screening and evaluation process carefully vets organizations and projects before they receive funding.

The 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. Board members, along with members of the Young Professionals Board, join staff in making visits to the organizations applying for funding to better inform the Board in grantmaking decisions.

Current grantees regularly report to the CBF and request renewal funding. The CBF considers inviting eligible organizations who have previously received a discretionary grant to apply to become an organizational grantee.

In 2023, the CBF provided grants ranging from $12,500 to $55,000 to its organizational support grantees.

Other Support for Grantees

Consistent financial support is critical to enabling the CBF’s grantee organizations to continue doing the important work they do, but the CBF also recognizes the importance of providing other types of support to these organizations and their staffs. These include:

Enhanced Training Opportunities

The CBF invites staff at grantee organizations to participate in free training programs offered through the CBF Legal Aid Academy, an innovative pro bono program designed to improve training and professional development opportunities for legal aid attorneys and staff.

As part of the Legal Aid Academy, the CBF pays for the CBA membership and CLE Advantage membership for each staff attorney working at one of our grantee organizations. These memberships, which the CBA offers at a reduced rate, are offered in partnership with the CBA. Learn more…

Technical Assistance

The CBF provides technical assistance and training on best practices on common issues and collective challenges facing pro bono and legal aid organizations such as governance, management, and program evaluation.

Pro Bono Assistance
The CBF provides assistance to grantee organizations in engaging members of the private bar in pro bono efforts, including training on best practices, support, and technical assistance. Learn more…
Advocacy Support

The CBF advocates at the federal, state, and local levels to improve access to the courts and advance government funding for legal aid and implementation of policies that support and advance equal access to justice. Learn more…