Financial Education

Financial Literacy

Through its Financial Capability program, Ladder Up helps clients build a lasting foundation for self-sufficiency by working with them to secure financial aid for higher education and to gain the skills needed to make sound financial choices.

Ladder Up’s Financial Literacy programming is founded on the belief that developing financial practices is a vital part of the journey to financial freedom. Ladder Up provides free financial literacy education to help individuals gain the knowledge and tools needed to make sound financial decisions:

  • Financial Education Workshops – Interactive sessions delivered at partner sites throughout the Chicago area, covering topics such as banking and saving, credit control, budgeting, consumer responsibility, and personal income tax.

Workshops for Partners

Financial Capability staff members facilitate workshops on various financial topics (listed below) at partner organizations throughout Chicago. Workshops can be tailored to meet the needs of different interests and audiences, whether as a stand-alone session or a series of sessions over several days or months. We are particularly interested in developing workshops sensitive to the needs of domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, crime victims, veterans, clients with concerns related to their immigration status, and clients with disabilities.

Tabling Event
Request Ladder Up to attend your event (e.g., Parent Nights, neighborhood events, etc.) and have us host a table. Tabling events are an informative outreach opportunity for us to distribute flyers and share details about our Tax Assistance Program, Tax Clinic Program, and Financial Capabilities program.

Understanding Taxes Basics/Onboarding Paperwork 101
This workshop outlines the process of filing an income tax return. Topics include knowing when to file, common tax forms (W-4, W-2, W-9, 1099), determining your filing status, deductions, and credits, and preparing a return. We also discuss the importance of filing, tax penalties, and resources available to help taxpayers file their returns.

This workshop explores strategies for budgeting. We discuss fixed vs. flexible expenses, setting financial goals, tracking expenses, and how to use online applications to maintain a budget. A budgeting exercise helps participants see where they can spend less and save more.

Credit Scores
This workshop explores the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of credit. We discuss how credit scores are comprised, including how to be smart with credit, common credit mistakes, the necessity of a good credit score, and how credit can be an advantage when maintained responsibly.

Tax Tips for Self-Employed/Small Business Owners
This workshop delves into detail about the difference between being an employee and an independent contractor. It explains self-employment tax and best practices for independent contractors/self-employed in tracking business expenses and preparing for tax time as well as audit defense. Briefly review the common types of business entities (LLC, S-Corp, Partnership, Sole-proprietorship), the difference between them, and the forms needed at filing time.

Understanding the ITIN Application and Renewal Process
This workshop will include information on understanding what an ITIN number is and why it is used. It also covers the supporting documentation needed and the benefits of using a certifying acceptance agent (CAA).

A free and secure online budgeting tool that consolidates financial accounts and organizes bills.
The U.S. government’s website dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics of financial education.
Information for people of all ages, even retirees!
The ONLY source for a free annual credit report.
A tool to help you choose the best bank accounts, credit cards, and loans for your needs.
Learn how to read, understand, and improve your credit score. TransUnion and Equifax credit scores are updated weekly with a free account.
Tips from the U.S. Small Business Administration for entrepreneurs on opening a small business.
Wide variety of topics and information for those who are self-employed.


“This program provided useful information about budgeting and handling money efficiently. After these presentations, I realize how different my life can be if I start saving now.”
Irene L.

“The thought of tracking money has always been overwhelming for me, but Ladder Up really gave me a reality check about my personal habits and spending.”
Olivia S.

“My experience with Ladder Up was extremely positive. The tools I’ve gained from this workshop will help me manage my finances once I’m away at college.”
Luis M.