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February 13, 2001

Governor Ryan Announces $500,000 to Improve Access to Legal Assistance to Low-Income Illinoisans

SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced that the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) will provide $500,000 to the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation for legal assistance for low-income persons.

"Access to the legal system is critical to a democracy founded on equal justice under the law, " Ryan said. "The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation provides a way that eligible Illinoisans who cannot pay for legal assistance can receive a variety of free legal services."

The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation established by law in 1999. The Illinois State Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Association appoint the Foundation's 12-member board of directors. The Foundation administers the Illinois Equal Justice Fund, which supports initiatives to increase Illinoisans access to the legal system.

The Equal Justice Foundation will use the $500,000 to make grants to not-for-profit organizations in four categories: legal information for the public, mediation services, telephone advice and referral services and civil legal assistance. Services will be provided free of charge to individuals whose income is under 150 percent of the poverty level who are involved in non- criminal or traffic matters.

"The Department is pleased to partner with the Equal Justice Foundation to increase access to legal services for those in need of them," said DHS Secretary Linda ReneƩ Baker. "This award will allow us to provide unprecedented opportunity for low-income families to receive free legal services and assistance."

For more information, contact the Equal Justice Foundation at 312-372-5906, extension 13 or 1-800-624-8962.


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