Infowire
7:28 am
Fri September 19, 2014

Infowire: There is lots of red tape around prison visits. Here's how to untangle it.

Credit Free Press / flickr

The goal of Infowire is to deliver information that’s hard to come by to the people who could use it most. In this case, it's families of prisoners.

There’s a long list of serious issues in prison that people would not stand for if they were happening somewhere else. In this context, visits might not seem like the most important thing, but they are crucial.

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Families & Community
6:00 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Many Michigan cities are reporting a drop in homicides so far this year. Can the trend last?

Credit flickr/diversey

The numbers are down 30% in Flint.

They were down 70% in Saginaw through July. Down 66% in Grand Rapids through June. Down 14% in Detroit, and on pace for the lowest annual total in decades.

The reports are preliminary, but homicides in many of Michigan’s cities are way down compared to last year.

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4:05 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

U.S. Census data show child poverty rate is on the decline

Lead in text: 
New U.S. Census Bureau data show a decline in childhood poverty rates for the first time in 10 years. That's big news. But as Emily Badger points out in her Washington Post article, that's about the only good news coming out of the most recent poverty data gleaned from the Bureau's 2013 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement.
The Census Bureau released new poverty and income data on Tuesday morning, drawing on results from the 2013 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplements. The data is used to calculate the official poverty rate in the U.S., as well as to track how changes in the economy - such as in the employment prospects of workers - impact the incomes of American households, and the differences between them.
Families & Community
11:58 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Michigan gets an "F" in consumer debt protection

Credit National Consumer Law Center

Michigan law allows up to 25 percent of a workers paycheck to be garnished for credit card debt. It's one of 20 states that do not protect wages above the federal minimum of 75 percent of take-home pay once a person has judgment for non-payment of debt against them.

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Policy
12:01 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

One weird trick that's proven to help prevent violence in your neighborhood

Credit flickr/thomashawk

Virginia Commonwealth University's  Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development has a lot of research projects aimed at helping young people succeed.

One of those projects is a community surveillance system that tracks ambulance calls, emergency room visits, and other data to track levels of violence across neighborhoods in Richmond, Virginia.

In 2003, researchers from the Institute reported to local community members on a not-so-surprising correlation they'd discovered: Rates of violence were higher near convenience stores that sold "inexpensive, single-serve alcoholic beverages."

A paper published by Institute researchers last year described what happened next: 

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Families & Community
6:44 am
Wed September 10, 2014

"I want people to not be afraid to reach out and help someone else."

Joy Mohammed and Paris Brown
Credit Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

People who manage to overcome poverty in childhood don't succeed by accident. They work hard, of course, but usually, they also have some help.  And often, that help can be traced back to one person who decided to make a difference.

We're running an occasional series about the people who make that decision. We’re calling this series, "One Person Who Cared." To share your story of the One Person Who Cared, click here

Joy Mohammed and Paris Brown are loosely connected through family. They met once at a wedding. Then they became neighbors in the Russell Woods neighborhood of Detroit. Mohammed, who is nine years older than Brown, helped tutor her with schoolwork, and checked up on her at her house.

"I wouldn’t call myself a visitor. I was snooping," Mohammed says with a laugh. "I was watching to make sure that the kids were okay."

"Were you?" I ask Brown.

"Um, no …"

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Families & Community
12:22 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

Did you experience foster care in Michigan? We want to hear from you.

Credit user Peter Lindberg / flickr

There are more than 13,000 youth in foster care in Michigan at any given time. There's no way we could possibly interview anywhere close to that number, but if we could, we would no doubt hear some heartwarming stories about being in care, some horror stories, and everything in between. 

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Families & Community
12:18 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

It's not just you. New data confirms economic recovery not reaching most families

Credit photosteve101 / flickr

The release of new economic data is about as exciting as spam email.

The New York Times Upshot blog makes the case that the newest set of data is something to spend some real time with, so here we go:

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Families & Community
11:13 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Friday news roundup: Camden renewal, suburban poverty, and elite colleges

Credit user photosteve101 / flickr

If you're like me, you probably don't have a lot of spare time. So in an effort to make things easier for you, here's a roundup of some articles from the week that our State of Opportunity team found interesting. Happy reading!

How one poor inner city managed to turn things around

I've been thinking about this story from the New York Times all week. It's a story about hope and renewal. Just about everybody – politicians, police, residents – had written off Camden, N.J. In the summer of 2012, there were 21 murders in Camden, the highest homicide rate in the city's history. Fast forward two years, and the homicide rate this summer was six. 

It has been 16 months since Camden took the unusual step of eliminating its police force and replacing it with a new one run by the county. Beleaguered by crime, budget cuts and bad morale, the old force had all but given up responding to some types of crimes.

The results are encouraging. Read the full article to see how Camden is fast becoming an example of how it's not impossible to turn things around.

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Research
1:28 pm
Thu September 4, 2014

It's important to believe hard work matters more than intelligence, because it could make it true

Facepalm moments might not be all bad. It depends on how you look at these "mindset messages" says new research from Michigan State University.
Credit potomon / flickr

Michigan State University has a new study out about "mindset messages," or how what we believe can change how well we can do.

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