PEORIA — More than $1 million in private and public grants will aid work at Prairie State Legal Services.

The group announced its receipt of funds from three separate grants last week.

The largest, a $725,000 grant from the not-for-profit Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, supports Prairie State's Ready to Work Project for the coming 18-month period. It provides free legal help to people in overcoming barriers to employment such as a criminal record, loss of a driver's license or because of child-care issues or lack of access to transportation.

Staff locally in the Peoria, Galesburg and Bloomington offices can assist individuals with questions about those topics.

A second grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for $300,000 is intended to help the group's efforts to protect consumers from housing discrimination. It's the only agency in Illinois outside of Chicago to receive the funding.

Prairie State's Fair Housing Project, for which services are covered locally in Peoria and Tazewell counties, offers services including legal representation; fair housing testing in rental, sales and lending markets; systemic investigations; and education and outreach presentations.

The third grant, for $100,000, is from the Internal Revenue Service's Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Program. It's intended to give low-income taxpayers representation in tax disputes with the IRS, among other matters. The clinic helps clients dispute tax debts, stop IRS collections, get innocent-spouse relief, and handles identity theft issues.

Individuals with a tax issue can call (855) 829-7725 and leave a message with their name, phone number and best time to return the call. Further information is also available at