Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy

Citizen Advocacy Center

Building Democracy for the 21st Century

aka CAC

Elmhurst, IL


The Citizen Advocacy Center is dedicated to building democracy for the 21st century by strengthening the citizenry's capacities, resources, and institutions for self-governance.

Ruling Year


Executive Director/Community Lawyer

Ms. Maryam Judar

Main Address

182 N. York Rd.

Elmhurst, IL 60126 USA


Democracy, civics, advocacy, citizen advocacy, CAC, public participation, government accountability, government transparency, Illinois





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Civil Rights, Social Action, and Advocacy N.E.C. (R99)

Community Improvement, Capacity Building N.E.C. (S99)

Legal Services (I80)

IRS Filing Requirement

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

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Civic Education

Monitoring Government Activity

Journalism Training

General Public Training

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Our Results

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Number of internship/fellowship opportunities at CAC

Population(s) served

No target populations selected

Context notes

Every year, CAC takes on interns from law school, college, and high school to investigate citizen reports of apparent illegal, democratic public policies and obstacles to civic participation.

Charting Impact

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

CAC's mission is to build democracy for the 21st century by strengthening the citizenry's capacities, resources, and institutions for self governance. Our community lawyers train individuals and community groups in how to use the law and democratic participatory tools through individual assistance, educational brochures, workshops, and monitoring government entities for abuse of power-- all for free.

~We educate and train individuals, journalists, public officials, educators, and students in the laws and tools that ensure access to the democratic process as well as in how to take action to resolve a community based systemic issue of public concern.

~We provide vast resources to engage, motivate, and empower public participation in the democratic process.

~We monitor government agencies for abuse of power and, when necessary, take action to deter public officials from acting contrary to the public good.

~We advocate for policies that improve government transparency, accountability, and accessibility. This includes litigation, only as a last resort and on behalf of select citizen causes, that can have a substantial impact on the democratic process.

Our staff includes full-time community lawyers, support staff, volunteers, and interns from high schools, colleges, and law schools, who are dedicated to advancing our mission.

On a quarterly basis, CAC has a meeting with all board members (at least the majority attends every meeting), and they discuss the progress of the organization.

On an annual basis CAC executive director and board members make a report which details the projects and programs for the year.

Along with board members, CAC has 9 advisory council members who act as ambassadors to the community for CAC activities. As the "eyes and ears" of CAC in the community, they look for ways to promote CAC's mission. Council members serve in an advisory and volunteer capacity for a term of two years with an option to renew service for an additional two years. The Council's role has grown with CAC. The role of the advisory counsel is to help CAC stay connected to and continue to meet the needs of the communities it serves. Advisory counsel members represent various western suburbs of Chicago.

Youth Civic Engagement:

CAC sponsored and mentored more than a dozen student interns at our office, immersing them in local government and civic engagement.
CAC was a principal actor in the effort to return mandated civic education in Illinois' high schools. The legislation was implemented in this 2016-2017 school year.

Civic Education:

CAC convened and facilitated discussion forums such as the Critical Conversations Series on the Intersection of History, Law, and Social Justice. Free forums were held to discuss issues under the broad umbrella of democracy and their intersection with race, ethnicity, and class.

Community lawyer Ben Silver presented on "Sex, Gender, and Public Schools: Talking About Transgender Rights and Protections" to high school educators who must grapple with the sensitive issues of transgender rights and protections in publicly funded schools.

Protecting the Public's Right to Know:

CAC recognizes the disservice to Illinois businesses and taxpayers when elected officials shift a government function to a not-for-profit entity that is not covered by Illinois' sunshine laws, including the newly-incorporated Illinois Business Economic and Development Corporation (ILBEDC). Legislators asked CAC to provide testimony before the State Subcommittee on Public Private Partnerships, and CAC was the only organization that had conducted extensive research on the issue.

Ensuring Due Process:

What do you do if your village sends you a bill for water it says you used six years ago and did not pay for, and the village fails to inform you of any appeals process? CAC educated Villa Park residents on their due process rights when this happened to them, and advocated for them to receive fair treatment by the municipality. The lack of "administrative hearing" procedures at the local level is the culprit, and CAC is on the case to study the extent of the problem and make recommendations for reform.

Address questions of public concern:

CAC assisted more than 300 individuals and community groups by fielding inquiries including the following:

`Can solicitation ordinances bar residents from canvassing their neighborhood on a local political issue?
`Can a municipality require someone who volunteers to be on an appointed local government board to submit to a credit check?
`What is home rule?
`What First Amendment rights does a teacher have to kneel during the Pledge of Allegiance at school?
`Is the judiciary subject to FOIA?
`What can I expect if my candidate nomination papers are objected to?
`Can a municipal board immediately vote on an item from a closed session in open session with only the general notice of "action item" noted on the published agenda?
`Can a board trustee vote at an open meeting via telephone?
`When an individual files a lawsuit against a public body does the lawsuit prevent that same individual from filing FOIA requests to that same public body on a different issue?
`and much more.

External Reviews

Affiliations & Memberships

Better Business Bureau


Citizen Advocacy Center

Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

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  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2014
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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2014
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to see what's included.

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.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


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?



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



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



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



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