When he was just 22, Bob Burke (ACCT ’94) walked into the office of a managing partner in the world’s largest financial services firm and asked him for money. Not for himself, but to support an idea he had for a charitable organization that would prepare tax returns and financial aid packages for the working poor on Chicago’s west side.
That was in 1994. Today, Ladder Up (goladderup.org) has made an economic impact of more than $325 million, serving 160,000 clients, exclusively through the help of 16,000 volunteers. Chicago magazine selected Burke as a 2011 “Chicagoan of the Year.”
“Everyone has that capacity to give, and when you do, you get so much back in return,” says Burke, who also manages Burke America, a private holding company he started in 2010. “I’ve learned more at Ladder Up than any other organization I’ve been involved in. It’s made me a better person, a better human being.”