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Illinois Courts Response to COVID-19

Procurement Opportunities | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts

Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator Grants

Program Overview

The goal of this project is to create, train, and support a statewide Court Navigator Network (Network) of clerks and court staff. Network members serve as a bridge, linking courthouses throughout the state, to share ideas, develop new resources, and establish programs for assisting SRLs, perhaps through additional and new methods because of COVID-19. Over the past few years, the base of this Network has been the Illinois JusticeCorps program and the Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator (Coordinator) grant program. At the urging of the Illinois Judicial Conference, it is our mission is to maintain a Network with at least one member in every Judicial Circuit in the state.

Established in 2017 under the ATJ Commission Strategic Plan, the Coordinator grant program served nearly 250,000 court users in its first five years. Utilizing grant funds, Coordinators developed innovative projects, which ranged from repurposing courthouse space for help desks and improving signage materials to creating early resolution programs that resolve divorce cases more quickly. Future projects could also include helping SRLs with appearing remotely for court dates, conducting outreach campaigns to the community about court operations, unifying Circuits with consistent resources across a region, or partnerships with legal aid or other court stakeholders. You can read more about the previous grantees in Illinois Courts Connect newsletters for November 2017, November 2018, December 2019, August 2020, and July 2021.

The Network shares resources and best practices across county lines and judicial circuits to more effectively address the self-help service gaps seen throughout the state. Network members identify, develop, and implement new tools and resources in their local courthouses and work with other stakeholders to facilitate better communication and collaboration in addressing these issues. Network members become aware of what their counterparts throughout the state are doing, have learned from each other's successes, shared resources and updates, and provided the best possible service for SRLs.

Network members receive in-person (when possible) and remote trainings throughout the grant year, addressing topics such as information vs. legal advice, making referrals, customer service, implicit bias, assisting people who are dealing with mental illness, plain language, user-centered design, communication/de-escalation, and working with court users who have low literacy levels.

Courts may apply to participate in the Network for the training and collaboration segment only or courts may also apply for Coordinator grant funds (up to $ to cover expenses related to the development, modification, or expansion of resources and services for SRLs. If a grant application is submitted on behalf of a Circuit with multiple counties, please indicate which counties will be served on the application form provided below in Section I. The award cap of $20,000 could be lifted based on the availability of additional funds.

This SRL Coordinator grant opportunity cannot be used for Online Dispute Resolution (projects. If your jurisdiction is interested in pursuing an ODR program, please apply to the ODR grant program, the RFP can be found at https://atjil.org/about/ 
You still are welcome and encouraged to be part of the Network if you pursue an ODR grant.

Grant Proposal Requirements

Each proposal for grant funds must include the following five components:

  • Section I Application Form
  • Section II Program Narrative
  • Section III Statement of Interest & Resume/Bio
  • Section IV Letters of Support
  • Section V Grant Request

Grant Award Decision Process Due Date

Completed grant applications must be submitted before 5:00 pm on June 21, 2022 by email to Jill Roberts, Deputy Director, Access to Justice Division, AOIC at jroberts@illinoiscourts.gov. All award decisions will be made by the ATJ Commission's SRL Coordinator Grant Selection Committee. The Committee will review all grant applications and make awards based on several criteria including demonstrated need, local support, ability to work collaboratively, and willingness to innovate and think creatively. The committee anticipates that the grant recipients will be announced the week of July 11, 2022 with grant monies to be disbursed shortly thereafter. The program year will begin August 1, 2022 with orientation taking place that week.