WUOMFM

Dustin Dwyer

Reporter/Producer

Dustin Dwyer is a reporter on the State of Opportunity project, based in Grand Rapids. Previously, he worked as an online journalist for Changing Gears, as a freelance reporter and as Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Before he joined Michigan Radio, Dustin interned at NPR's Talk of the Nation, wrote freelance stories for The Jackson Citizen-Patriot and completed a Reporting & Writing Fellowship at the Poynter Institute.

In 2010, Dustin left journalism to be a stay-at-home dad. Now that his daughter Irene is turning two, he's happy to be back at Michigan Radio, where there are far fewer temper-tantrums. 

Ways to Connect

A house for sale in Grand Rapids
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Don Norman settles into his chair, and pulls his blanket up to his chest. On the TV, Dick Van Dyke is about to solve a murder.

The room is warm, shades drawn. It’s a good old house. A bit of plaster is coming off the ceiling in the corner, but the house is neat. Every shelf is filled with pictures of family.

Don’s been here 40 years, he says. Ever since he and his wife got pushed out of their last home, when the hospital near them started an expansion and bulldozed their old block.

flickr/chrisgold CC by-NC

Thousands of young immigrants in Michigan today are living in a state of limbo. 

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump vowed to end the Obama administration's deferred action program that allowed these young immigrants to go to school, and work, without fear of deportation. 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

For the past several days, there have been many, many stories about President Trump’s actions on refugee policy, and his administration’s travel ban for people from 7 Muslim-majority nations.

But last week, the President also signed one other executive action that could have a big impact on immigrants in Michigan.

The action spelled out how Trump’s administration would prioritize its deportations for undocumented immigrants. The plan Trump announced means lawmakers in Lansing could have a huge say in who will be targeted in Michigan.

courtesy of Jewellynne Richardson

Our State of Opportunity team has been looking all year at the connection between neighborhoods and opportunity for children and families. We've been hearing a lot of concerns in the neighborhoods of Grand Rapids about how new development is making life harder for long time residents. 

Down Eastern Avenue in Grand Rapids, just before the railroad tracks, there’s a little building. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside Jewellynne Richardson has built a rich world of culture.

“I consider myself to be the one-stop culture shop,” she says.

flickr user JD Hancock/CC by 2.0

There have been lots and lots of studies on whether additional funding for schools really leads to better outcomes for kids. And, for a long time, some of the conclusions of those studies were a bit mixed.

But in the past year or so, a few new studies have made the case that money does matter for student outcomes. And one study in particular uses Michigan’s Proposal A as the proof.

Dustin Dwyer

Finding a home in Grand Rapids is becoming more difficult, especially for renters with low incomes. According to Zillow.com, the average cost of a rental unit in Grand Rapids rose almost 8 percent last year. That was the 11th highest increase in the country, among the 200 largest cities. Even for those who can afford to rent, finding a place isn’t easy.

Thomas Leth-Olson via Flickr, CC by 2.0

How do you make sure schools in communities without a lot of resources are successful?

That's not an easy question to answer, but we're always looking for promising leads.

And we found one in a Grand Rapids group that helps parents find the resources they need to be successful.

flickr user Shiyang Huang

I met Jamie Rykse a couple months ago, to talk about juvenile justice reform in Michigan. When she was 17, she was convicted of home invasion and sent to serve four years in adult prison.

This week, I met up with her again to talk about what happened after she got out of prison, how she started helping out at Heartside Ministry, a place she’d gotten help when she was homeless.

young man with video camera
Courtesy of Carbon Stories

Erik Lauchié always had a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit in him. He says he got it from his dad. And it started young. He started his own group in elementary school called Young Entrepreneurs.

“When I was in second grade, I wrote a book called 'The Small Turtle,'” Lauchié  says. “When I started Young Entrepreneurs, that was another thing that I did was bind that book and get the illustrations done by my cousin and then sold the book at my church.”

rows of desks in classroom facing chalkboard
User neoproton / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There are more than 90,000 kids in Michigan schools whose primary language is not English.

The number of these English language learners has grown 45 % in the past 5 years, according to data from the state of Michigan.

That has districts, and the state, scrambling to train teachers to help these kids learn.

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