Moving from Debt to Assets: A Workshop Story

UFE - US Action Fair Taxes for All Training of  TrainersThese spring months have been particularly hectic for UFE's Education Team. So, with great pleasure, I get to write this.

For four years, UFE has partnered with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) to present a bird's-eye view of the economy as part of their Moving from Debt to Assets financial literacy education and empowerment program.

The program assumes a multi-faceted approach to keeping low-income people, predominantly from communities of color, out of financial harm's way, using education, counseling, leadership-building, and ongoing peer support--sometimes continuing for years after graduation--to prepare these folks for financial stability and upward economic mobility.

Steve and Jeannette, UFE's Pop[ular Education] Stars, were working with a national crew of fair tax organizers in Baltimore, and needed a hand for this month's class. I stepped in with educator/historian, activist/motivator, Susan Hecht, to co-present UFE's custom workshop, "Getting Aboard the Asset Train: Race, Class & Wealth in the US," to a full room in Dorchester, MA.

Once Susan and I laid out the "doom and gloom" of what's transpired in the US economy over the past 6+ decades, the resounding message of the participants was: THIS ISN'T FAIR! and What can we do about it?

Glad they asked. Prior to the workshop, Joel Schwartz, manager of GBIO's Debt to Assets program, gave me fair warning that, in the past, one of the greatest challenges of this section of the class is to not weigh the scale too heavily on the side of the melancholy, but to balance it with an appealing call to action--one that's clearly worthwhile.

Susan and I came armed with an arsenal of resources and ideas, but more importantly, we came with a story to tell about how activism, even at the individual level, has led to change for the greater good of our society. 

Closing time came, class was adjourned, and spirited discussions of a better world spilled onto the sidewalk under a dim street lamp. It's an understatement to say that this class was galvanized, but this class was galvanized. Many of the highly motivated students expressed their readiness to leap into activism, and with the skills and knowledge imparted to them through this opportunity with GBIO, I'd say they're getting a pretty solid start.

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