UpTogether was founded as Family Independence Initiative (FII) in Oakland, California in 2001 after our founder saw firsthand the faults of the United States social services system. He was frustrated watching the same families cycle in and out of social service agencies, while the financial resources designed to support them did nothing to build their economic or social mobility.
As the son of a hardworking single mother who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, he saw that his mother, a talented dressmaker who worked hard to “make it” in the U.S., wanted more access and opportunity for him and his sister. He was certain there was a better way to invest in people’s initiative than what his mother had experienced. He also knew firsthand the harmful stereotypes and belief systems that perpetuated biased practices and policies, undermining the pride of those being “helped” and their chances for success.
Our founder believed if families had access to resources and community support, they would decide for themselves how to implement them—as his mother had—and they could move up, together, out of poverty. He founded FII based on this philosophy.
In 2021, we changed our name from FII to UpTogether to more clearly convey our purpose and engagement with community.
We don’t define community. Our members do.
At UpTogether, we recognize that everyone defines community in their own way, but no matter the definition, it’s rooted in shared values and aspirations, connectedness and care for the collective.
Who are the UpTogether Community members?
UpTogether members are parents and caregivers. They are entrepreneurs and community organizers. College graduates and homeowners. Boomers and Millennials, and much, much more, all working together to accomplish the goals they have set for themselves, both individually and collectively. There is a richness in the diversity their lived experiences bring to the UpTogether community.
When it comes to race and ethnicity, UpTogether Community members are more similar. Our membership is reflective of the reality we face in America with Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC), experiencing low wealth and poverty at a disproportionate rate. This is due to systemic racism in the form of discriminatory policies and practices and is not due to individual behaviors or cultural characteristics. With this in mind, and a focus on centering equity, the overwhelming majority of UpTogether members are also part of the BIPOC community.
Want to learn more about our members?
We invest in people in historically undervalued communities and amplify their true lived experiences, working together to influence policies and mobilize for systems change.
All people in the United States are seen and invested in for their strengths and are able to build power, reinforce their autonomy and drive their own economic and social mobility.
We’re better together than we are alone, and we know that with the support of our neighbors, family and friends, all of us will have a better shot at achieving our goals and dreams.
We focus our time and energy on collective work that will have the largest impact for people experiencing financial hardship.
We center the lived experiences of our members, partner with them to change systems and work with them to co-create opportunities for people to reach their financial goals.
We are committed to being an anti-racist organization and we promote anti-racist policies that eliminate the racial wealth divide.
We intentionally create space for everyone to lead, regardless of their title.
We respect everyone’s autonomy and know each person is capable of making their own decisions.