College of Business > News & Events > DePaul Accounting Students Provide Tax Assistance to Low-Income Families
By Brian Maj /
May 6, 2021 /
Posted in: Students /
DePaul’s accounting students volunteer their time each year from January to April to assist low-income families with tax returns through Chicago-based organization Ladder Up and its tax assistance program. This year the federal income tax deadline was extended to May 17 and some consultations were conducted remotely, but DePaul students were still there to provide support.
“My biggest motivation for volunteering at Ladder Up is my continuing desire to help those in need,” says Niko Buenvenida, an accounting honors student. “I want to help my community in any way I can, and being an accounting student at DePaul, I thought this was the perfect way to do so.”
Founded in 1994, Ladder Up is a nonprofit organization that provides free financial resources to families and individuals who need help moving up the economic ladder. It relies on the time and generosity of volunteers to meet its goal of filing accurate tax returns and securing unclaimed tax credits for people in underserved communities. This year has been an especially important time to provide help to those with need.
Sister M. Paul McCaughey, a faculty member and coordinator of Catholic educational leadership at DePaul’s College of Education, serves on the organization’s board of directors. “I am impressed with Ladder Up’s network and its creative response to remain vital amidst challenges caused by the pandemic. The engagement it provides is unique and needed, and a vision of empowerment that is both systemic and deeply personal,” she says. “Ladder Up recognizes community assets and puts them to work, making fiscal literacy a right for all adults.”
Volunteering has allowed students to gain experience through service-based learning, as accounting student Buenvenida reflects further: “DePaul emphasizes using higher education as a means to engage in service to others, and this is a great opportunity to do that. I am applying what I am learning in my studies to the real world, while doing work that benefits the greater community.”
Student volunteers are trained as drop-off specialists and exit interviewers, meeting with clients to review their tax documents and ensure all relevant information is documented. “I met many interesting people while volunteering, and it made me feel closer to our community,” says accounting senior Michael Soroka. “In addition, this is a way to utilize the skills we learn at school in the real world. Ladder Up has multiple locations in Chicago, so this is a great way to serve a local community.”
Since its founding, Ladder Up volunteers have served more than 755,000 clients and returned more than $1.2 billion in benefits. With DePaul students working alongside other volunteers, the organization continues to help thousands of families in Chicago work toward financial stability.