COOK COUNTY, IL – Today, Legal Aid Chicago received a $3.6 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the largest private contribution in the agency’s history. These funds will support Legal Aid Chicago’s work to represent low-income and vulnerable clients to obtain housing, employment, health care, education, personal safety, and other necessities through the civil legal system.

This incredible contribution from one of the world’s most respected philanthropists arrives during the 50th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation, which supports legal aid organizations nationwide. This gift greatly validates the life-changing work Legal Aid Chicago’s staff does every day to strengthen families and ensure that people living in poverty have a voice in the justice system.

Legal Aid Chicago has more than 220 employees, with attorneys who practice in virtually every area of poverty law. Last year, the agency brought $37 million into its client communities through increased income, property preservation, and reduced debt, and served over 24,000 people, including clients and their families. Legal Aid Chicago works on issues that transform lives yet cannot be quantified, including protective orders in domestic violence and elder abuse cases, safety for survivors of human trafficking, and increased access to education for children. The agency’s services are free of charge.

Ms. Scott’s gift serves as a bridge from Legal Aid Chicago’s successful past to its vision for the future. The agency’s new CEO, Katherine W. Shank, embodies the skill, compassion and commitment at the heart of Legal Aid Chicago. Kate joined the organization directly after graduating from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and has devoted twenty plus years to our shared mission. She is a gifted attorney who provides steady leadership and a strategic approach to Legal Aid Chicago’s work.

“There is much work ahead,” said Shank. “We are grateful to our talented employees, Board, community partners, funders, and all who have played a role in securing equal justice for those living in poverty in Chicago. We extend our gratitude to Ms. Scott for recognizing the philanthropic importance of supporting Legal Aid Chicago and civil legal aid as a whole.”

Learn more about Legal Aid Chicago’s services at


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