Everyone Deserves a Share: United for a Fair Economy

HomeMy internship this summer is with United for a Fair Economy, which works to raise awareness about economic equality and to move people into action in their own states and communities to counter the policies that continually widen the wealth gap. The organization has projects through which it works towards its goals

Racial Wealth Divide: tackling the racially determined economic gap

Responsible Wealth: Encouraging the wealthy members of American society to fight for equality

Popular Economics Education: giving other organisations the tools to understand economic policy and implications

Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative: advocating for fair and progressive tax policy

Estate and Federal Taxes:  tax fairness at the federal level

– One if the ways the UFE raises awareness about the inequality. (Source: UFE/Info-graphics)

A week before I started working with the group, I had the opportunity to witness firsthand the organization’s mission and the projects that it engages in at a film screening at Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square, Cambridge.

Inequality for All stars former secretary of labor, Robert Reich, as he and his trusted mini cooper work tirelessly to fight economic inequality in America. He explains inequality, how we perceive it and its realities. The film highlights one major point:

that the top 1% of the American population holds more than a third of the country’s wealth and that this share is growing.

 A combination of wit and simplified everyday language helped the group gathered in the auditorium on a warm Tuesday night to understand how increasing economic inequality can negatively affect their livelihood, their health, their rights and their freedom. Not all of us hold a bachelor’s degree in Economics (I can at least speak for the 9 year old in attendance who understood enough to join in the conversation afterwards).

My First Week

I am one of three development interns at UFE. Our role is to help with the fundraising side of the organization, a role that is instrumental in keeping the wheels of the UFE well-greased.

–          I attended a staff meeting the first day I arrived. The first few minutes were spent acknowledging each member’s hard work and achievements during the previous week. This was a sign that the UFE is an empowering and supportive work environment where everyone is recognized for their contribution.

–          I was given a chance to identify projects I would be individually interested in, something I appreciate as an opportunity to show my skills and learn new things. I expect to have this kind of freedom for the rest of the summer.

–          I met two other Brandeis students who are also interns at UFE for the first time, which is always a pleasant experience.

–          I started working on projects almost immediately. Everyday, I learned something new, both about the organization and fund-raising in general. My supervisors give me the background and motivations behind every project and how they affect donations and donor retention.

–          The people at UFE immediately struck me as passionate about their cause. They are a diverse group with different skills that are valuable to the group. It will be interesting observing and learning what those are.

In this environment where everything seems to be happening at once, I expect to make some great relationships, learn many new skills and have the chance to contribute to a great cause.

Thanks for reading,

Pokuaa Adu ’14

P.S. Please take a look at all the links highlighted all over this post to learn more about the UFE, the film and other interesting things I have seen in the past week.

4 thoughts on “Everyone Deserves a Share: United for a Fair Economy”

  1. Hi Pokuaa,

    I’m always so proud to see the kind of projects and internships that Brandeis students get involved with, and your internship just re-affirms that. UFE strikes me as an organization that wants to bring structural change into society because they understand that charity can not solve the underlying problems of the widening wealth gap and the growing population of people under the poverty line. In other words, they want to change the course of history.

    I have plenty of questions and I’m sure you have very little time, so maybe we can talk about your summer experience in person when we get back to school. I do have two questions though for now – Does UFE work with legislature/lobbying and are you interested in that? My second question is that what kind of fundraising will you be doing? Writing letters and grants or do you know if you’ll have a chance to meet with donors personally?

    Also, just when I was reading your blogpost the other day, I was about to start watching a documentary exactly on the topic of economic inequality. It’s called Park Avenue: Money, Power, and the American Dream. I think you would really enjoy it and everyone could benefit from watching it!

    Good luck!
    Viki ’14

  2. Hi Pokuaa ,

    It sounds like you are interning in a happening office with a diverse group of passionate people. No matter what work you are specifically doing, you will surely learn a lot from the people around you, which I would argue is the best way to learn.

    It’s great that you were able to voice which projects interest you during the staff meeting. Which ones did you choose? The “Responsible Wealth” project particularly interests me. It must require strategic creativity to appeal to their target population.

    It sounds like you have taken a step back to see the greater picture of the fundraising work you are doing. Acknowledging the greater purpose of your work and how it specifically advances the organization’s mission is important. Also, fundraising experience is great to have under your belt no matter the field of work you eventually settle in.

    Good luck with the rest of the summer!
    Zoe Richman

  3. Hi Viki,
    Thanks for reading! I am glad to see you are interested in the work the UFE is doing and I will be happy to chat more about it with you. Your observation about changing the course of history is one of the things I admire most about their work. It is very important to understand the root causes of inequality as they manifest in society, culture and policy so that they can be changed for the better. So, in answer to your first question, UFE does engage in activism that tackles both state and federal legislature in the US. Just recently, I had the opportunity to observe that firsthand and I intend to go into detail about that in my next posting so watch out for that. I am definitely interested in that and I am learning a lot about the processes and drive needed to do so.
    I am currently assisting with the “paper pushing” side of fundraising; sending out mailings, handwriting thank you notes to supporters and things like that. I have not yet interacted with donors.
    The film was very eye-opening and I am sure I will enjoy your recommendation. I will try to find an available copy or showing and tell you my thoughts when we have the chance to talk.
    Thanks again for your comments and questions!

  4. Hi Zoe.
    I am definitely enjoying getting to know each individual at UFE. They are all passionate about what they do and I look forward to coming in to work because of this.
    I chose to work on a researh project looking into other organisations’ use of social media to raise funds for the organisation. Even though social media is a part of everyday life these days, I am having a wonderful time looking at it from the non-profit’s point of view and understanding how organisations are trying to support their work, while maintaining a close relationship with their supporters. As an added bonus I get to learn more about the different causes that are out there and build my own views and opinions on them. It is a personal and professional journey all rolled into one.
    I am not directly involved with the Responsible Wealth department of UFE but its focus is also of interest to me. It brings to fore the idea that wealth should not always naturally progess into greed or apathy and these group of higher-income supporters are that individual wealth should not come at the expense of a health economy for all. What exactly about RW interests you?

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