(1) United For a Fair Economy

Erick sitting in the UFE office holding a welcome Erick sign while sitting down
First Day at UFE

I am currently interning for United for a Fair Economy (UFE). UFE is a nonprofit fighting for a resilient, sustainable and equitable economy. UFEs caught my eye because of their work to raise the minimum wage in North Carolina. Most importantly, three aspects of the organization caught my attention: their expertise as grassroots organizers, the fight for higher wages (even if it’s not in MA) and their work as supporters of on-the-ground organizations. I chose UFE because I think it can teach me a lot about nonprofits and guide me toward the right career choice. I hope to learn more about the hard work that community organizing entails and about the difficulties of working in the industry.

Erick with UFE and community partner staff at the end of a popular education training.
First Popular Education workshop

While working for UFE, I learned that most of their work revolves around giving a voice to people who have experienced injustices. They encourage people to talk about their struggles and hardships and then summarize this impact by providing additional facts for contextualization. For example, they discuss facts like the federal minimum wage losing its purchasing power due to inflation. UFE also works on other projects. One of these projects is called Responsible Wealth. This program addresses the inequity resulting from billionaires not paying their fair share of taxes. For this reason, they actively work and advocate for a Billionaires Income Tax. To achieve these goals, UFE uses popular education as an alternative to traditional classroom education, where ordinary people define their problems and cooperate democratically to understand the successes and failures of past political policies to assess their situation.

Currently, I am working on a project meant to encourage popular education. The Conversation Deck uses a deck of cards to facilitate a conversation about people’s experiences, struggles, and barriers with the economy. I hope to host a focus group with staff, interns, and community leaders to gather feedback on the conversations we want people to have. While at UFE, I also work with donor relations by responding to correspondences and other funding-related administrative tasks. As a grassroots organization, this is a vital part of my work and necessitates being responsive to donor needs and requests.  

Furthermore, I also help staff with databases and phone banking for events, webinars, and popular education workshops. For my main project, The Conversation Deck, we hope to distribute the cards to our partner organizations. We want to encourage, engage and promote dialogue surrounding issues affecting our daily lives like our identities, our communities, the economy, and the actions we should be taking to address our concerns.

Overall, I am looking forward to learning more about nonprofits as a field and as a future career. It is very exciting to learn about the jobs, roles, and responsibilities that individuals are responsible for. I am also very grateful to see and experience what a healthy work environment looks like. I look forward to bringing this experience to my next jobs and internships and coming into the workforce with open eyes and with hindsight knowledge of what I should expect from an employer.