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

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.

Dan King / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Salvation Army is a crucial resource for many people all year round. It provides housing assistance, food assistance, utility assistance and all kinds of other help to people in need.

And around the holidays, that effort ramps up with Christmas assistance.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio


For more on this, read our previous blog post.

The morning after the election, I reached out to a number of people I’ve interviewed in the past who are immigrants, or who work with immigrants.

 

It’s fair to say there was shock, some in mourning. Some worried for the future. One mother wanted to know how she can set up guardianship for her kids in case she’s deported. She’s been in the U.S. since she was a child. She now has legal status through the Obama administration’s deferred action program. But Trump has promised to end that program.

 

Lots of people who previously felt safe now don’t.

 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Donald Trump made a lot of campaign promises on his long path toward the presidency. But one of his signature issues from the very beginning was immigration. Trump has said repeatedly he plans to deport every one of the estimated 11 million people living without papers in the United States. 

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

It doesn't take long for a line to form to try at the new virtual reality headset. 

Right as the event gets started inside the basketball gym at the MLK Leadership Academy in Grand Rapids, the kids spot the headset and want to try it. Nine-year-old Sydney McKinney is one of the first to get a chance. 

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