Philanthropy, Voluntarism, and Grantmaking

The Chicago Bar Foundation

  • Chicago, IL
  • chicagobarfoundation.org

Mission Statement

The Chicago Bar Foundation (CBF) brings the legal community together to improve access to justice for people in need and make the legal system more fair and efficient for everyone. Through grants, advocacy, pro bono and partnerships, the CBF takes a system-wide approach to improving access to justice and focuses on those objectives that are best achieved by the legal community working together.  The CBF's work is made possible by the generous contributions of thousands of dedicated individuals, more than 200 law firms and corporations and many other committed partners. The CBF is the charitable arm of The Chicago Bar Association.

Main Programs

  1. The CBF Grants Program
Service Areas

Self-reported

Illinois

Chicago metropolitan area

ruling year

1949

Principal Officer

Self-reported

Mr. Bob Glaves

Associate Director

Self-reported

Dina Merrell

Keywords

Self-reported

a fair and accessible justice system for all

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Also Known As

CBF

EIN

36-6109584

 Number

6282574934

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Public Foundations (T30)

Legal Services (I80)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Thanks to the generous financial support of thousands of lawyers and other legal professionals, more than 200 law firms and corporations, and many other dedicated supporters, in 2016 the CBF awarded more than $3.5 million in grants and played a lead role in a number of important access to justice projects and initiatives.  These efforts enabled tens of thousands of low-income and disadvantaged Chicagoans to get critical legal advice and assistance, strengthened Chicago's pro bono and legal aid system, and made other longer-term systemic improvements in access to justice.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

The CBF Grants Program

The CBF's grants program provides critical and consistent general operating support for dozens of outstanding pro bono and legal aid organizations serving the Chicago area and supports a number of innovative special projects, fellowships and scholarships, and systemic initiatives.

Category

Crime & Legal

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

None

Budget

$3,550,000.00

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    The Chicago Bar Foundation brings the legal community together to improve access to justice for people in need and make the legal system more fair and efficient for everyone.

    The CBF accomplishes this by:
    • Increasing access to free and affordable legal assistance for people in need
    • Making the courts and legal system more user-friendly, fair and accessible, particularly for people without lawyers

    Using a mix of grants, advocacy, pro bono and partnerships, the CBF pursues a two-pronged strategy:
    1) Investing proven solutions that have an immediate effect – such as grants to established pro bono and legal aid organizations through the CBF Investing in Justice Campaign.
    2) Developing innovative new solutions and advocating for legal reforms that address gaps and emerging issues or drive long-term, systemic improvements, through initiatives such as: the CBF Justice Entrepreneurs Project; developing a network of Court-based Advice Desks, and the CBF Legal Aid Academy.

    As the charitable arm of The Chicago Bar Association, the CBF's work is made possible by the generous contributions of thousands of dedicated individuals, more than 200 law firms and corporations, and many other committed partners. Thanks to that strong support, the CBF awarded more than $3.5 million in grants in 2016 and continues to play a lead role in a number of innovative access to justice initiatives. More information on the CBF's work is available on our website, chicagobarfoundation.org.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    The CBF takes an integrated, system-wide approach to improving access to justice that starts with mobilizing the legal community's involvement in this cause and involves grants, advocacy, pro bono and partnerships. While each of these strategies is a distinct area of our work, we use these strategies in concert to maximize impact. As an example, one of the major issues the CBF has addressed in recent years is the growing number of residential mortgage foreclosures. The CBF worked closely with the courts and other partners to develop a robust network of legal services for homeowners facing mortgage foreclosure, including advice desks, pro bono projects and a comprehensive mediation/assistance program. Through a mix of grants, advocacy, pro bono and partnerships, the CBF has played an integral role in launching, sustaining and continually improving these court-based programs to help tens of thousands of people facing foreclosure in the Chicago area reach the best outcome for their particular cases. This is just one of many examples of the CBF's ability to integrate our various strategies to efficiently maximize impact and help leverage many other important resources.

    The CBF's core strategies include: mobilizing Chicago's legal community to fulfill its leadership role in this cause by giving their time and money and using their influence to advance access to justice; providing grants that fund a continuum of legal services to help people in need, and each year enable tens of thousands of low-income and disadvantaged Chicagoans to get critical legal advice and assistance, strengthen our community's pro bono and legal aid system, and generate other longer-term systemic improvements in access to justice; court-based advocacy to make the court system more user-friendly and accessible to all people, particularly for the growing number of people who come to court without lawyers; legislative/policy advocacy to advance government funding for legal aid and promote policies that support and advance equal access to justice; a Pro Bono Program that includes (a) helping, promoting and recognizing participation in pro bono work in our community; (b) sustaining and improving the existing pro bono system by promoting best practices and providing technical and other support, facilitating communication and collaboration between stakeholders, and providing consistent financial support for effective pro bono programs; and (c) developing, supporting and funding innovative new pro bono projects; and partnerships with other foundations, the courts, government, law firms, corporations, law schools, other nonprofits and our grantee organizations to carry out our work, leverage significantly more resources, and maximize our impact.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    The CBF has a consistent track record of proven impact, a solid infrastructure, and a sound strategic plan to build on to make an even greater impact in the future. To advance our system-wide approach to improving access to justice, the CBF draws on a number of strengths, including a strong and experienced Board of Directors, a highly capable staff and a robust and diverse network of strategic partnerships with the bar, the courts, pro bono and legal aid organizations, law firms, corporations, government, law schools and the philanthropic community. While everyone in the legal community—lawyers and legal professionals, judges, law firms, corporations and other organizations—has the ability to make a real difference in this cause as individuals, the CBF is the one place that Chicago's legal community can come together around this cause to collectively make a powerful impact that no one person or organization could make acting alone. The CBF's position at the intersection of the key institutional stakeholders in our justice system, along with the ""bully pulpit"" of our Chicago Bar Association charter, gives us a unique platform from which to effectively tackle this cause on a systemic level. A dedicated and highly-regarded board of lawyers and judges who are broadly representative of Chicago's legal community, with the assistance of a CBF staff with widely recognized experience and expertise on these issues, and an active Young Professionals Board, oversees and carries out the work of the CBF and ensures accountability. More detailed information is available on the CBF website: http://chicagobarfoundation.org/board-and-staff. The CBF has a large, diverse and growing base of support that makes our work possible, including thousands of lawyers and other legal professionals, more than 200 law firms and corporations, and many other dedicated partners. With the breadth of support, expertise and resources the CBF is able to leverage through its vast network, the CBF is able to consistently make a significant impact in our mission, both in many short term successes and in the longer-term systemic improvements our work is making possible. Our partnerships with the courts, The Chicago Bar Association, other foundations and funders, and the larger legal community, along with a group of outstanding pro bono and legal aid organizations that are our grantees, are major strengths that have been a huge asset in our past success and will allow us to strengthen our work going forward.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    The CBF's work is guided by a comprehensive strategic plan that the Board of Directors regularly reviews and formally updates at least once every 3-5 years. As part of that strategic plan, the CBF reviews our progress against key strategic goals on an ongoing basis and reports on the key measures of our progress at least once a year in our annual reports, available on the CBF website at: http://chicagobarfoundation.org/annual-reports. The CBF has developed detailed strategic frameworks to guide our work for each of the CBF's core goals. Each framework includes specific short-term and longer-term goals that the CBF evaluates on an ongoing basis. The CBF also periodically commissions reports and studies on systemic access to justice issues, using the findings and results to help assess progress on our key goals, identify gaps and emerging issues, and hone or adjust strategies going forward. More detailed information on the CBF's strategic plan and our ongoing evaluation and assessment is available on the CBF website at: http://chicagobarfoundation.org/. The CBF consistently hones our efforts to build on what we know is working while at the same time we continually strive to be more efficient and effective and regularly tackle gaps and emerging issues through a series of innovative initiatives. We have learned that success in our mission depends on a sustained commitment of resources for organizations and projects that have proven to be effective. In addition, the CBF has learned that community-wide coordination and collaboration is essential for a strong pro bono and legal aid system. Therefore, the CBF focuses on using our expertise and system-wide perspective to encourage, facilitate and support innovative and collaborative programs. Finally, we have worked to build proven, research-based best practices into our grant guidelines and decision-making for both our grants and our internal programs and activities.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    With the leadership and generous contributions of legions of dedicated supporters and a number of committed partners, the CBF's comprehensive efforts enable many thousands of people in need to get critical legal help each year. It is the CBF's longer-term impact, however, that is our defining niche. Highlights of the CBF's longer-term impact include 1. Chicago's legal community is significantly more engaged and more comprehensively involved in this cause. 2. Chicago's pro bono and legal aid organizations have greater and more diverse sources of funding through the legal community and other key sources (government, cy pres awards, and other foundations), a better coordinated delivery system, and more resources available to support and advance their work.3. Dedicated lawyers are better able to pursue and remain in careers in legal aid in the Chicago area because of improved legal aid salaries,significant new loan repayment assistance programs and scholarships, and expanded training and professional development opportunities.4. Pro bono programs offer significantly more and varied pro bono opportunities, and much better resources are available to engage lawyers, other professionals and law students to help expand legal services to those in need.5. Our community's court system is much more accessible for people without lawyers because of a growing network of legal advice desks in the federal and state courts, a growing array of user-friendly online legal resources that are increasingly available on www.IllinoisLegalAid.org and court websites, and related court-based projects.Even with these significant advances there is still a long way to go to achieve our vision of equal access to justice for all people in our community. Our community's already overburdened pro bono and legal aid system continues to face rising demands for help from growing numbers of people in need, while other key sources of funding for this work are declining or under severe stress. As a result, even with all of the impact we have made in recent years, our profession's leadership role in access to justice efforts--and the CBF's role in mobilizing our legal community around this cause--is more important than ever right now.
Service Areas

Self-reported

Illinois

Chicago metropolitan area

Social Media

Funding Needs

The CBF's work is made possible by thousands of individual donors, more than 200 law firm and corporate donors, and many other committed supporters.   The strong support of our donors is critical to our ability to carry out our mission.  Donors can learn more and contribute on our website, chicagobarfoundation.org.

External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

The Chicago Bar Foundation
Fiscal year: Jun 01-May 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

The Chicago Bar Foundation

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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Principal Officer

Mr. Bob Glaves

Associate Director

Dina Merrell

BIO

Bob Glaves has been Executive Director of The Chicago Bar Foundation since October, 1999, prior to which he had a successful nine-year career as a civil litigator at the Chicago law firm then known as Menges, Mikus & Molzahn.  As Executive Director of the CBF, Glaves is responsible for leading and overseeing the CBF's work to mobilize the legal community around the issue of ensuring the justice system is fair and accessible for everyone in our community.  Since Glaves became Executive Director, the CBF has increased the amount of its annual grants and fundraising more than tenfold and has played a lead role in launching a number of groundbreaking access to justice initiatives.  Glaves is a 1991 magna cum laude graduate of The John Marshall Law School, received a B.A. degree in Political Science and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin in 1987, and has been awarded a number of commendations over the course of his career.  He has served as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Donors Forum (n/k/a Forefront) and President of the National Conference of Bar Foundations, and continues to serve in a leadership role in several other nonprofit and bar initiatives.

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Charles Smith

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Term: June 2016 - May 2017

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization

Yes

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

No

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Yes

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Yes

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Yes

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?