Once in a generation...

In early August, the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) approved of a $50 million increase in funding to organizations who are current IDHS grant funding recipients whose work focuses on gender-based violence.

Ascend Justice was one of those recipients.

Per IDHS, the funds allocated are to be used to support survivor needs within the gender-based violence community and that is precisely what Ascend Justice is doing.  This funding will be utilized to address the needs of survivors of domestic violence from multiple angles:

  • Invest in Ascend Justice’s staff and within our sector.
  • Grow Ascend Justice’s ability to serve more local survivors and our range of services.
  • Build a model to serve survivors around the state of Illinois. 

We wanted to share with you exactly how we are putting our Invest. Grow. Build. idea into action. 

How will this funding impact the work done at Ascend Justice?   

What changes should you anticipate learning about moving forward?

How can you be an important part of these new initiatives?

Let’s dive right in…

“This is a once in a generation opportunity”

Margaret Duval
Executive Director, Ascend Justice


Invest in current services and agency capacity.

Investments in our staff, organizational infrastructure, and communication with clients are designed to ensure that we can continue to meet the needs of our diverse client community for decades to come. Ascend Justice seeks to use this historic opportunity to raise salaries, grow professional development opportunities, and establish new mental health supports for our staff.  A significant portion of the investments are also directed at language access, improving our ability to communicate with and represent clients regardless of their primary language.


Grow our capacity to provide more holistic services to more survivors in and around Cook County.

In the last two years, Ascend Justice has experienced high (and growing) demand for legal services, demonstrating high levels of unmet need among survivors. The growth in demand has been particularly high among our family law, immigration, and family defense practice areas.

Ascend Justice is adding a total of eleven new client-facing staff members, the majority of whom will add to our capacity to serve new clients (others will provide additional services to existing clients or will focus on supervision with a limited caseload).


Build and test a partnership that leverages technology, local expertise, and remote specialized skills to deliver holistic services to rural survivors.

While survivors in Cook County face challenges obtaining legal services because of the limited number of attorneys, thousands of survivors outside of Cook County live in “legal deserts” without access to any legal services – much less free, trauma-informed legal services. We are partnering with Land of Lincoln and Quanada to test a model to deliver holistic services to survivors with an innovative combination of local, in-person services, and centralized remote expertise.

By partnering with Quanada and Land of Lincoln to open a legal aid office in Quincy, Illinois dedicated to the needs of survivors, our primary goal is to provide legal services to survivors who currently have extremely limited access to legal aid, with the nearest legal aid office located approximately two hours away. Just as importantly, we will be testing the efficacy of the partnership model that delivers a portion of specialized legal services from a remote metropolitan area.


Sorensen, M. (2022, October 15). New legal assistance coming for domestic violence survivors. Herald-Whig. https://www.whig.com/news/community/new-legal-assistance-coming-for-domestic-violence-survivors/article_33939594-4c01-11ed-8026-735729477fc4.html

Bordenga, V. (2022, October 13). A new legal aid office is opening in Quincy. WGEM.  https://www.wgem.com/2022/10/13/new-legal-aid-office-is-opening-quincy/

What impact does this have on donors?

While this increase in funding from the Illinois Department of Human Services is allowing Ascend Justice to Build, Invest, and Grow in unprecedented ways, continued financial support from our family of donors is crucial to our ability to maintain our high level of services.

Your continued financial support ensures that we can meet the full range of our agency needs and that we can support programs and services that cannot be funded by government contracts.

Individual contributions, year-over-year, remain a crucial part of maintaining the services Ascend Justice has provided for over four decades.  Your continued support increases the number of survivors impacted by our services and paves the way for even bigger changes in years to come.

Learn Even More

get help now


if you are in immediate danger


24/7 Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline


(877) 863-6338

Orders of Protection

Ascend Justice Remote OP Hotline:
Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm