June 23, 2020
The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice and the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts have launched an application process for two grant initiatives to begin an expansion of the network of court personnel who assist self-represented litigants (SRLs). The application process for both grant initiatives will open on June 15, 2020 and run through July 15, 2020.
The first grant initiative is for the development and implementation of an Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) program. ODR uses technology to facilitate the resolution of disputes usually between parties who are self-represented and primarily involves negotiation, mediation, or arbitration. ODR may be suitable for resolving a wide range of disputes including consumer, traffic, marital or familial type relationships, as well as small claims. Through an application process, the grants will provide modest funds for ODR proposals which meet all relevant requirements. The Request for Proposals for the ODR program is available here.
The second grant relates to the existing Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator (Coordinator) grant program. Over the past three years, Coordinators have used grant funds to develop a range of innovative projects. For the upcoming fourth year of the program, proposals which establish or redesign programs to meet the issues faced by SRLs in light of the COVID-19 pandemic will be prioritized. Projects for this program could include telephone or online chat services, developing Guide & File automated interviews to complete forms and seamlessly e-file, helping SRLs with appearing remotely for court dates, or providing safe and socially distant in-person services. The Coordinator grants will be awarded through an application procedure. The Request for Proposals for SRL Coordinators is available here.
Even if a grant is not awarded or requested, a designated staff member may participate in the Court Navigator Network (Network) which will include Coordinators and JusticeCorps members. Network members serve as a bridge, linking their courthouses with others throughout the state to share ideas, develop new resources, and establish programs for assisting SRLs. See the SRL Coordinator RFP for more information about joining the Network.