Families & Community
5:31 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

State of Opportunity special: Do we really have a plan for at-risk kids?

Jennifer White, Carl King and Zoe Clark prepare for a conversation about successful approaches to creating opportunity for at-risk youth.
Credit Michigan Radio

There's widespread recognition that education creates opportunity. But schools are often expected to provide much more than just education for kids struggling with poverty. So what are the effects of that expectation? Are kids getting watered-down educations and watered-down social services as schools struggle to do both? 

Read more
Families & Community
12:49 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

As it turns out, it really does take a village to raise a child

Credit Gabi Menashe / Flickr

Well hello there! How have you been? It's been a while since my last post – three months, to be exact. I've been out on maternity leave and just got back to work and I have to say, I have a newfound respect for single parents.

Read more
Families & Community
6:00 am
Wed April 16, 2014

How do you get a kid out of a bad situation? Start with one person who cares.

Portrait of a family that overcame obstacles. Jamie Alexander, second from right, credits her Grandma Bobbie Lee, far right, with stepping in to help raise the kids when her mom, third from right, struggled through addiction.
Credit courtesy Jamie Alexander

Stories on State of Opportunity are all about ways to help disadvantaged kids find success in life. But when you meet a successful adult who grew up disadvantaged, they have a story that is like many others.

They didn’t get where they are by accident. They worked hard, of course, but usually, they also had some help.  And often, that help can be traced back to one person who decided to make a difference.

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

I met Jamie Alexander a couple of years ago. She’s a social worker for a program in Grand Rapids called Strong Beginnings, which helps African-American moms have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

But on the car ride to one of her client’s homes, Alexander told me her own story.

"My mom was a drug addict, an alcoholic," Alexander said. "And my dad was not around."

Read more
Families & Community
3:35 pm
Mon April 14, 2014

Call-in show: what's the best strategy to help at-risk youth?

Credit Vinoth Chandar / Flickr

This Thursday, we're shifting gears at State of Opportunity.

For our call-in show, we want to talk with you and our invited guests about ways to help at-risk kids break the cycle of poverty. 

People posting to our Facebook conversation so far have been adamant that schools and education are the way to give kids a better chance in life.


Read more
2:23 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Tech & Opportunity: It's about more than iPads

Credit Bill Ferriter / for the love of learning

In the run-up to our call-in show for next week, we're looking for alternatives to schools as the solution for breaking the cycle of poverty for Michigan's children.

The point is not that education isn't the answer, but what haven't we tried?

Technology, as we've said before, has its costs and benefits. But when it comes to low-income kids and technology, the assumption is that no money equals no technology.

That assumption is wrong.

Read more
Families & Community
11:41 am
Thu April 10, 2014

Schools as the default solution: The right move?

Credit Erin Nekervis / Flickr

For the rest of this week and next, we're preparing for our upcoming call-in show

We've focused a lot on schools and education because it's such a huge part of children's and parents' lives. After all, after age five, that's where kids spend most of their time and have formative experiences. 

But when it comes to answering the big questions, do we rely too much on schools? What solutions do we overlook when we put all our eggs in the education basket? 

One in four of Michigan's children lives in poverty conditions.

Read more
8:23 am
Wed April 9, 2014

What kids with disabilities bring to the classroom

"He would bless our school."
Zak Rosen


Bentley loves people. He’s usually wearing a big smile.  He’s a joy. But his mother, Adrienne Crawford, admits he’s a lot of work, too.

“I took a three-minute shower" the other day,  says Crawford. "And I came back and his bedroom was covered in baby powder. I don’t know why he did it.  I guess it looks fun, just pouring white powder on the floor.”

Bentley has Down syndrome.

Shortly after he was born, Crawford remembers reading a book that forecast everything that could possibly go wrong in her young son’s life.

Read more
2:07 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Tennessee once lagged Michigan in education. Now it's a national leader, while Michigan falls behind

Credit flickr/Brad Montgomery

Going to college may soon get a lot easier – if you live in Tennessee. 

The Tennessee Legislature is moving forward on a proposal that would offer two free years of community college enrollment to any high school graduate in the state. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam first introduced the idea during his state of the state speech in February. Haslam calls the plan the "Tennessee Promise" (sound familiar?). According to a fact sheet released by Haslam's office, about 25,000 students are expected to apply, at an annual cost to the state of about $34 million. Haslam proposes paying for the Tennessee Promise through an endowment created with state lottery funds. 

"Tennessee will be the only state in the country to offer our high school graduates two years of community college with no tuition or fees along with the support of dedicated mentors," Haslam said in his state of the state address. "Net cost to the state, zero. Next impact on our future, priceless." 

Read more
Families & Community
11:17 am
Mon April 7, 2014

How many parents does a kid need? How about three?

Credit Lorianne DiSabato / flickr

Former State of Opportunity intern extraordinaire Gabrielle Emanuel recently did a story for NPR that resonates with events in Michigan. Emanuel takes a look at states that provide options for families with more than two parents involved in a child's upbringing.

Read more
2:27 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

What should our next infowire story be?

Actually, we're already working on the next Infowire story. But, we're open to ideas for the story after that. 

As a refresher, the idea behind Infowire is to begin to fill gaps in the news for low-income families.

Read more