We believe that everyone deserves a shot at a better life.

Ladder Up provides hardworking people with free financial resources to help our clients secure the opportunities they need to move up the economic ladder.

  • Tax Assistance Program
  • Legal Tax Clinic Help
  • Financial Aid for College & Financial Literacy
Founded In 1994

When 22-year-old Chicago business analyst and volunteer basketball coach Robert Burke saw how the hardworking families of his west side team were struggling to make ends meet, he took a shot at helping out. With the goal of securing unclaimed tax credits for the people of this underserved but deserving community, he recruited 90 colleagues to prepare tax returns at no cost. The efforts paid off, returning over $150,000 in tax refunds to 120 families.

$1.42 billion

Returned to Clients


Clients Served

Meet the Team

  • Phyllis Cavallone-Jurek

    Executive Director
  • Michelle Kuipers

    Director of LITC & Staff Attorney
  • Susana Ramirez

    Paralegal, Tax Clinic
  • Katrina McDermott

    Director of Finance and Administration
  • Becky Santiago

    Director of Tax Assistance Program
  • Kristy Kotek

    Director of Development
  • Evelyn Espinosa

    Senior Tax Assistance Program Manager-Programming
  • Karina Ruiz

    Senior Coordinator Tax Assistance Program Operations & ITIN Specialist
  • Lina Negret

    Senior Bilingual Community Outreach & Senior E-Filer
  • Lisa McDermott

    Volunteer Engagement Manager