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Photography by Al DiFranco

Special Programs

Special Programs

In addition to services offered in the five program departments, there are special services. These are either new initiatives or are services offered infrequently, and often cover subject matters that are cross-departmental.

Currently three special services are offered at CASL:

Cup of Tea Discussions
In March 2009, a CASL volunteer cohort created Cup of Tea Discussions, which teaches conversational English using everyday life situations such as asking for direction and reporting emergencies. In small groups, clients feel less pressure and, with less focus on grammar, students quickly learn common English phrases and idioms that help them succeed in their daily lives.

A class that started with only volunteer and four clients now boasts more than 20 dedicated volunteers each week that serve more than 100 clients. These devoted individuals have donated over 1,300 hours since 2009, changing the lives of our clients. Their most recent accomplishment is being recognized as Project Winner for Chicago with the 2010 Governor's Home Town Awards.

Each lesson includes a comprehensive handout prepared by volunteers. The class is divided into Mandarin and Cantonese speakers and subdivided into beginning, intermediate and advanced English ability levels. Groups are typically 4-5 students and a volunteer teacher. This completely volunteer driven program has given immigrants a voice and the confidence they need to achieve their dreams

Cup of Tea Discussions are held at CASL every Saturday from 10am-12pm. The class is free and open to the public. No registration is necessary. For more information on the class, please contact CASL’s Volunteer Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (312) 791-0418.

Pro Bono Legal Clinic
Partnering with the Asian American Bar Association (AABA), Chicago Volunteer Legal Service (CVLS), and the law firm Quarles and Brady, the Chinatown Pro Bono Legal Clinic began in April 2010. Clients who meet income and other eligibility guidelines receive services including advice, referral, and/or representation free of charge. Depending on their income levels, court fee waivers may also apply. The clinic offers only non-emergency services and only covers civil cases such as bankruptcy, family law, immigration, real estate, etc. Volunteer attorneys offer face-to-face consultation with clients once a month assisted by volunteer law students.· Mandarin and Cantonese interpretation are also provided. Clients are asked to first call a toll-free number, 888-764-6125, and a volunteer will call them back to take some basic information and register them for clinic appointments.

Since the inception of the program, the clinic has assisted over 50 clients.· Clients who do not meet income requirements or whose cases are not covered by the clinic may be referred to other legal service assistance resources or attorneys who offer discounted rates. View the flyer for the current clinic hours.

Secretary of State Mobile Service Unit
The Secretary of State mobile service unit offers driver’s license and State I.D. renewal, replacement, and corrections; vehicle sticker sales; passenger and b-truck license plates; vehicle title and registration; parking placards for persons with disabilities; and organ/tissue donor information. In addition, vision tests and the written driver’s license exam can be taken. However, no driving tests are given.·

The unit is staffed by the Secretary of State’s mobile service unit staff with CASL staff and volunteers assisting with Cantonese and Mandarin translation.

In January 2010, the Secretary of State partnered with CASL for the first time to offer its mobile service unit at CASL. Over 70 individuals received services in a 3-hour period.· Another 100 clients were served at the June 2010 session of the mobile service unit.