UNITED INTERFAITH ACTION
WHO WE ARE
United Interfaith Action (UIA), a faith based organization founded in 1996, promotes social and economic justice and improves the quality of life of all residents in Southeastern Massachusetts with a specific focus on the cities of New Bedford, Fall River and Dartmouth, by recruiting and training clergy and lay leaders to act on issues of greatest concern, founding social action on the teachings of our different faith traditions.
Throughout the fall of 2013 and 2014, UIA participated in the Raise Up MA ballot initiative campaign to raise the minimum wage in Massachusetts and bring earned sick time to all workers. In the first stage of the campaign, Raise Up MA gathered over 285,000 signatures, surpassing their original goal 200,000 signatures. During this time, 36 congregations in the Fall River, New Bedford, and Dartmouth areas gathered approximately 18,000 signatures for the campaign. In 2015, UIA will be joining MCAN and Raise Up in the “Fair Share” Amendment Campaign.
Even though MA has a reputation of a beacon of wealth, with high paying jobs and strong public schools, Fall River and New Bedford are a stark contrast. Formally manufacturing strongholds, they have struggled in our current economy. The unemployment rate is over 12% in both New Bedford and Fall River, and 45% of residents are poor or working poor (under 200% of the Federal Poverty Line). Thousands of families are stuck in failing public schools, are unable to afford higher education and are trapped in the low wage economy.
We are on the front line witnessing this need. These families are coming into UIA congregations, both as worshippers and as people seeking help to make ends meet.
In the face of these challenges, United Interfaith Action (UIA) stands up for more opportunities for our families. Started in 1996, UIA has grown to 12 congregations led by diverse faith leaders from Cape Verdean, Portuguese, Latino, Brazilian, White and African American descent.
UIA’s first big victory was gaining a commitment from the Fall River and New Bedford Mayor to establish after school daycare in ALL neighborhoods, not just in wealthy neighborhoods. UIA went on to win safer streets by successfully advocating for the statewide Shannon Grant program to hire youth outreach workers, to win Workforce Investment funds for Adult Basic Education for those who didn’t finish high school, and English classes for immigrants in our communities.
During the past two years, UIA initiated the South Coast Community Health Worker Collaborative which has brought 30 health care and social service agencies together to develop a center to recruit, train, deploy and support Community Health Workers in underserved communities. UIA won a new innovative school in New Bedford to offer more educational opportunities for families. We collaborated with brothers and sisters across the state for our most recent victories at the state level to win a minimum wage increase from $8-$11 an hour, and the ability for all workers to earn sick time.
United Interfaith Action (UIA), una organización inter-religiosa fundada en 1986, promueve la justicia social y económica y mejora la calidad de vida de todos los residentes en el Sureste de Massachusetts con un enfoque específico en las ciudades de New Bedford, Fall River y Dartmouth, recrutando y entrenando a clérigos y líderes laicos para actuar en asuntos de gran preocupación, fundando la acción social en nuestras diferentes tradiciones de fe.