UFE’s Popular Education Method: “We are teachers & learners at the same time"

"The work we did with UFE to take MassBudget’s research and popularize it was revolutionary, and not just because we were able to get the information into more people’s hands. UFE is an authentic partner with folks in the communities—you are credible to people. You were able to help us not just translate information but also build those partnerships. I absolutely love the work you all do at UFE."

— Marie-Frances Rivera, Interim President, MassBudget

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) is a nonprofit organization that conducts research and provides non-partisan analysis of state budget, tax policies, and other economic issues that affect everyday people living in the state. Marie-Frances Rivera, the current Interim President of MassBudget, explains, “We are a research think tank with a lot of wonky information that we want to make sure gets in the hands of advocates and activists to create policy change for their communities. Number one, we aim to improve the lives of low- and moderate-income people in different ways—like ensuring schools and transit systems are adequately funded. That takes revenue, and we believe the best way to get this revenue is to raise it in a way that is progressive.”

MassBudget is one of several organizations who have expressed the usefulness of UFE’s popular education methodology, trainings, and other movement-building resources to their grassroots organizing efforts. “We try to equip people with the information to use in their own advocacy work,” Rivera reflected to UFE in a personal interview. “But, our presentation styles have typically felt like, ‘We are the experts in the room and y’all are the students and we’re instilling all this information.’ We’re aiming to operate differently and to be in community with people in a different way. UFE and the popular education frameworks have been instrumental to us. Our organization is taking on a more racial justice, racial equity approach. For us, a popular education methodology has helped us undo the harmful power dynamics that can be perpetuated when you’re the ‘think tank.’ Popular education is the right way to think about how we build relationships, and how we are teachers and learners at the same time.”

MassBudget advocates for a more effective government and increased transparency by focusing on policy solutions that promote an adequate, fair, and efficient tax system. Like UFE, MassBudget recognizes that far too many have been left on the sidelines of past policy debates. UFE brings a popular education methodology that has been proven effective at raising individuals' consciousness and empowering communities towards action. With support and training from UFE, MassBudget has been better able to make data-driven recommendations for powerful community change, a stronger local economy, and an enhanced quality of life for low- and moderate-income people in Massachusetts.

Check out a photo from our first training session with MassBudget back in 2016:

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