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Mission

Families United for Racial and Economic Equality (FUREE) is a Brooklyn-based, multi-racial organization made up of almost exclusively women of color. We are organizing low-income families to build power to change the system so that all people's work is valued and all of us have the right and economic means to decide and live out our own destinies. We use direct action, leadership development, community organizing and political education to win the changes our members seek. Our guiding principle is that those directly affected by the policies we are seeking to change should lead the organization.

History
"You don't need an army. You don't need to know important, influential people. You don't even need to be rich to leave a mark on history and make change happen!"

FUREE started in the winter of 2000, when a group of 15 women decided to take on BEGIN, the City's combination workfare and "education" program, to fight for access to education and training for all people receiving public assistance (PA). The City said BEGIN was an education program but these 15 women were unhappy that they were forced to work three days a week in a workfare placement while the "classes" they were offered the remaining two days were teaching them nothing. Instead, they were forced to look for low-wage, no-benefit jobs.

These women, with common problems & frustrations, banded together to form FUREE. As FUREE, we organized a direct-action campaign against the Human Resources Administration (NYC's welfare department). As a result of FUREE's organizing work, the women were transferred to another BEGIN site where they were faced with the same problems as before. FUREE now understood that the problems were deeper and more widespread than just one BEGIN site.

The 15 women that made up FUREE decided to take on the entire BEGIN program as well as the City, to fight for meaningful access to education and training for all people receiving PA. They realized that winning a job without a solid educational background was like a tightrope walk without a safety net. Access to education and training allows people to shape the future for themselves, their families and their communities. These women and hundreds of others are continuing the fight for economic justice!

 

Victories!
*When FUREE member, Laura Morales, died of an accidental death at her WEP site, we organized a massive rally to bring much due attention to the unsafe conditions PA recipients are subjected to in their workfare placement sites. FUREE received in depth media coverage in response to the unnecessary tragic death.

*FUREE launched a campaign to win access to education and training instead of workfare for all PA recipients. In April 2003, we won the passage of New York City Access to Training and Education Law known as Local Law 23. This bill FUREE members got passed into law, allows PA recipients to choose education and training over a workfare placement while receiving all their benefits including child care vouchers as well as carfare.

*We worked with welfare rights group around the country to influence the debate for TANF Reauthorization in 2002. This included participating in a take over of the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, a protest at Hillary Clinton's residence and a historic march on President George W. Bush's ranch in Crawford , Texas .

*We launched a child care organizing campaign to win rights for the lowest-paid child care workers in New York City .

 

*As a part of the core organizing coalition of Still We Rise (an alliance of NYC groups fighting to bring the agenda of poor to low income peoples to the forefront) FUREE helped lead the organizing of the march against the Republican National Convention in NYC on August 30th 2004 with thousands of New Yorkers.

 

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