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April Van Buren

Community Engagement Director

Credit Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

April Van Buren is Community Engagement Director for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project. She produces features and Stateside segments for the project and coordinates State of Opportunity's live events.

Before landing at Michigan Radio, April worked as a producer for Current State at WKAR where she helped launched the station's Pop-Up Stories project. She also worked as a reporting intern and producer at WBEZ in Chicago. Her very first public radio gig was as an intern here at Michigan Radio.

April graduated from Harvard University in 2012 with the most liberal artsy of liberal arts degrees. She is a die-hard 30 Rock fan and once saw Tina Fey do the chicken dance at a party.

Judson Center Parent Partner Kim Young.
Reel Clever Films

As a parent, you want your kids to grow and develop into successful adults. Providing a stable and safe home is an important part of doing that.

But families aren’t the only ones who are responsible for making sure kids are growing up in a safe environment. 

front of house with mural
Justin Boyd / Courtesy of Yvette Rock

There has been a lot of discussion over the past five months about school closures in Michigan. In January, we explored what the history of school closings in Detroit have meant for both kids and neighborhoods in our documentary We Live Here.

The week before we aired the documentary, the state’s School Reform Office released a list of 38 schools that faced closure at the end of the school year because of persistently low test scores. 

Gompers Elementary-Middle School in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood was one of the schools on that list.

report card for school
Michigan Department of Education

There’s a new blueprint for the future of school accountability in Michigan.  

The state’s Department of Education on Tuesday unveiled its draft plan for the implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (or ESSA). 

three girls on stage in flapper costumes
Courtesy of 4th Wall Theatre Company

Did you ever dream of seeing your name on a Broadway marquee as a kid?

If so, you probably have some fond memories of memorizing lines and making costumes for school plays. But for kids with intellectual and developmental disabilities, finding a spotlight isn’t always easy.

students on stage
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

Education in America remains deeply segregated.

But at the same time, there are more students of color than ever before. In 2014, for the first time, minority students made up over 50% of public school enrollment.

One district that’s seen those shifting demographics first-hand is Plymouth-Canton Community Schools.

And it's been intentional about creating an environment where students and families from all backgrounds feel welcome.

map of Detroit with possible closures marked
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

There are 25 schools in Detroit waiting to hear whether they’ll be closing their doors at the end of the school year.

So, where would all those students end up if those schools did close?

Click on the map below to see the nearby options for each possible closure and how they stack up academically.

Scantron Test Form
The Review Univ. of Delaware / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Poor kids in Michigan, and across the country, do worse in school than their wealthier peers.

That’s particularly true for kids attending schools where most of the other students are also low-income, too. Schools that do manage to get kids in concentrated poverty performing on par with wealthier peers are the exception.

This information is probably not all that surprising to you. But if you need a visual aid, take a look at where the bottom 5% of schools are in Michigan. 

crowd in front of stage
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

Our most recent State of Opportunity documentary focused on Detroiters whose personal experience with violence has inspired them to advocate for peace in their city.

We wanted to create a place for people from Detroit's neighborhoods and other Michigan Radio listeners to come together and talk about issues of racial equity and peace in the city. So, we teamed up with the folks at the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion to put on an evening of stories and conversation at the Matrix Center in Detroit's Osborn neighborhood. 


a community garden
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

On the corner of South Washington and Garden Street in Lansing, you'll find a brown sign with the words "Welcome to Fabulous Acres Neighborhood" painted in bright yellow letters.

The community is just south of where the Diamond Reo plant once turned out its cars and trucks. By January of 1980, the plant had been torn down.

But Fabulous Acres lives on.

ladder
User fdecomite / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

“Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” is a phrase that used to describe trying to do something that was nearly impossible. (Imagine, for a moment, trying to stand up by pulling on your own shoes. You’d look pretty silly.)

But somewhere along the way, it’s become short-hand for the kind of crowd-pleasing rags to riches stories found everywhere from movie screens to the evening news.

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