Built a stronger foundationWe expanded our capacity and explored new ways to deliver high–impact services more efficiently and effectively. CEP grew by 8% from 2013 to 2014 in terms of families served through our tax preparation program.
Leveraged volunteers in new waysWe piloted a one–on–one, transformational financial coaching program pairing 40 volunteers with 40 participants.
Mapped the futureOur three–year strategic plan—"Focus to Grow"—will move us toward greater productivity and impact. The plan is available for download here.
All of our accomplishments were made possible thanks to our generous community partners and the amazing community of supporters and volunteers who believe in our mission.
We need to do more
In 2014, we turned away up to 300 clients each day during the busiest weeks of the tax season due to a lack of volunteer capacity. To address this problem, we tested a new strategy to meet the demand for service in Chicago's poorest neighborhoods, where there is a lack of available volunteers. For example, we used technology to connect taxpayers with volunteers at off–site locations, who prepared returns remotely. A full report on this promising practice is available here.
CEP is grateful to the JPMorgan Chase Foundation for funding this pilot program.
Caroline had lost her husband to cancer. She was selling her home, trying to prepare her own taxes, and completing paperwork housing benefits for her adult son, who has Down syndrome.
Overwhelmed by grief, confusion and stress, she didn’t know where to turn.
Then a flyer arrived in the mail from CEP about free tax services for people with limited incomes. "I felt like I had won the lottery," recalls Caroline.
CEP volunteer advisors helped Caroline file her taxes and obtain a tax refund, report the sale of her home, and make sure she filed the correct paperwork for her son’s housing benefits.
In time, Caroline felt she could finally look to the future. She again turned to CEP for assistance with completing the paperwork for an educational loan. At age 64, she’s back in school for medical transcription. Confident about new possibilities ahead of her, she believes CEP made all the difference in helping her move forward.