Author Testimony: Philip Devol Reflects on UFE’s Work

“It is a transformational moment when participants using UFE’s materials begin to understand that poverty is not just a result of their individual actions and decisions, but is also caused by community conditions, many forms of exploitation, and political-economic structures,” Philip DeVol, author of three versions of “Getting Ahead in a Just-Gettin’-By World” (2004), reflected to UFE in a recent interview. “The reaction is often, ’It’s so good to know that it’s not just about the choices I make.’”

Philip’s books use materials produced by UFE to teach three specific populations — first generation, low-income college students; people returning from incarceration; and people entering the workplace — throughout the US and internationally about the roots of inequality and the possible routes to a better life.

“I use UFE’s materials in each of my Getting Ahead books and workshops. The UFE activities using bodies to represent data are a great way to generate discussions. Participants tackle the material together in groups of 12 over 16 sessions with a facilitator. Facilitators report that investigators — as Getting Ahead participants are called — become interested in the news after taking part in the UFE activities. They bring in articles from local papers and magazines, they begin going to the library to do more ‘investigations,’ and they begin to vote. In Gainesville, Florida, for example, they report that going into Getting Ahead 80% of the investigators don’t vote; coming out, 80% do vote.”

“Thanks for letting me use the UFE activities. The new activities you provide will be placed into the books as the current books sell out and we need to reprint.”



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