Financial Education

Financial Education

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 Education 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 and coaching 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.
  • Financial Coaching – One-on-one sessions for individuals interested in creating an effective budget, reviewing and building their credit histories, opening a checking or savings account, preventing identity theft, and more.
  • Project Money – A no-cost, six-week financial coaching empowerment program open to residents of the greater Chicago region. The program encourages its members to develop a positive and healthy relationship with their money. Members enjoy personalized sessions with a trained financial coach, financial education workshops, and a supportive community of like-minded individuals.
  • Save Up – Services offered at select Tax Assistance Program sites during the tax season that help tax clients access free and safe savings vehicles such as prepaid cards, savings accounts, and savings bonds.

Workshops for Partners

Financial Capability staff members facilitate workshops on various financial topics (listed below) at partner organizations throughout the Chicago area. 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 have a particular interest 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.

Topics include strategies for budgeting, 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 Control
Topics include how to manage credit wisely, what factors affects your credit score, the need for a good credit score, and how to build and maintain a good credit score.

Banking and Saving
Topics include how to choose the right bank account, the power of compound interest, strategies for saving, how to maintain a checking account, and how to find high-yield savings accounts.

Understanding your Tax Return
Topics include knowing when to file, common tax forms, 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.

Consumer Responsibility
Topics include setting priorities, planning big purchases while avoiding debt, consumer rights, common consumer scams, and preventing identity theft. For high school students, the workshop focuses on advertising, online privacy, and spending money wisely.

Special Topics
Please contact us using the form at the bottom of the page for more information about special topics, including Facilitated Self-Assistance (FSA) tax preparation sessions.

Financial Coaching

Ladder Up staff members meets one-on-one with individuals and families to help them achieve their financial goals. Activities include:

  • Accessing and reviewing your free credit reports
  • Building and rebuilding your credit history
  • Creating and maintaining a household budget
  • Opening a checking, savings, or retirement account
  • Preventing identity theft and avoiding consumer traps
  • Devising savings strategies and more!


Project Money

Project Money is a free 8-week program that provides its members with a community of like-minded, goal-focused individuals, a personal Financial Coach, and a financial education course. Financial Coaches are mentors and guides that help you achieve your self-determined financial goals. Project Money focuses on providing a plan for the long run, not emergency relief. We are seeking individuals who are committed, disciplined, and open to learning about money!


1. Have some type of income (full-time/part-time, SSI, student loan refunds, etc.)

2. Possess the motivation to improve your finances

3. Not be in a current financial crisis situation (apply anyway if you’re not sure)

If you have questions about the program, please contact for more information.

Save Up

Save Up provides Ladder Up tax clients with the tools and resources to save and build financial stability at tax time:

  • Free prepaid card enrollment
  • Free savings account enrollment
  • Savings contests and prizes

Save Up services are available at all Ladder Up tax sites.

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.