Illinois Bar Foundation's big boost to provide "springboard to success"
Chicago history teacher Dennis Kass, 37, puts his law degree to use at the school where he teaches – Infinity Math, Science and Technology High School in Little Village – by providing free legal information and services to students and their families at after-school clinics.
During the 2012-2013 school year alone, he handled more than 125 cases through the nonprofit he established in 2010, the Chicago Law and Education Foundation (CLEF), on legal matters that run the gamut from orders of protection for victims of domestic violence and immigration issues to help in avoiding mortgage foreclosure and expunging of criminal records.
Now, his fledging foundation, with an annual operating budget of about $21,500, is getting a big boost, thanks to the Illinois Bar Foundation (IBF), the fundraising arm of the Illinois State Bar Association. For every new or increased dollar pledged through a matching grant campaign from June 1 through September 30, the bar foundation will match it up to $5,000. That’s on top of a $6,000 grant The IBF already awarded CLEF in April.
The money will go a long way towards helping the Chicago native expand the legal clinics to other schools and ultimately enable him to pay the salary of a full-time lawyer. Down the road, he dreams of offering legal clinics in every public high school.
“Dennis has a sincere commitment to providing access to justice to low-income individuals who need it the most,” said David M. Anderson, IBF executive director. “We hope these funds will be a springboard to further growth and success.”