Jennifer Guerra

Reporter/Producer

Jennifer is a reporter for Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and was one of the lead reporters on the award-winning education series Rebuilding Detroit Schools. Prior to working at Michigan Radio, Jennifer lived in New York where she was a producer at WFUV, an NPR station in the Bronx.

Her stories and documentaries have won numerous regional and national awards, and her work has aired on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace and Studio 360.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Michigan and received her M.A. in broadcast journalism from Fordham University. When she's not on the radio, she and her husband are making up lyrics to songs and singing them to their adorable baby girl.  

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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.

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Families & Community
7:00 am
Wed December 18, 2013

A lasting friendship begins after Ann Arbor woman responds to radio story with kindness

Credit Kathy Ponce / Flickr

For the next few days we're featuring stories of ordinary listeners who read or heard a story on State of Opportunity and decided to give some of their resources or time as a result. We know many of you have done the same. If you've got a story to share or an idea of how people could help let us know here. If you need ideas of what you could do, check out the resources page. We'll update it with  listener suggestions as they come in.

We wrap up our State of Opportunity coverage for the year with a conversation between two women whose paths crossed after hearing a story on the radio. One of the women, Keisha, lives in poverty with her three young children. The other one, Judy, lives a very comfortable life in Ann Arbor with her husband. The two share the story of how they met a year ago, right around the holidays. The transcript is below. 


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Families & Community
8:00 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Report: Poverty, abuse and neglect on the rise for Michigan's children

Summary of the 2013 Kids Count report
Credit Michigan League for Public Policy

The new Kids Count report is out, and things are not looking good for kids in Michigan. You would think with the recession now a few years behind us that economic trends would be on an upswing, but that doesn't appear to be the case. I'll break down the report into three sections: The Good, The Bad, and the Stagnant. 

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Research
7:00 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Four tips to help folks move up the economic ladder

The Blackman family has managed to climb up one rung on the economic ladder through a combination of hard work, education and savings
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

We all know about the American Dream, right? Start out poor, work hard, become rich. But Diana Elliott, with the Pew Charitable Trust's Economic Mobility Project, says there's a wide gulf between The American Dream Idea and The American Dream Reality.

"Many Americans believe that it’s possible to start poor and become wealthy over the course of a lifetime," says Elliott. "But in fact, when we look at the data, we see that just 4% of Americans start at the bottom and make it all the way to the top in that next generation."

So how did that 4% do it? Well, there's no hard and fast rule that says 'have these qualities, will succeed.' But a new Pew study called Moving On Up looked at data from over 700 adults, and it shows that folks who managed to climb up at least one rung on the economic ladder shared these characteristics:

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Families & Community
10:00 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Outtakes: One mother teaches her kids the importance of savings

The Blackman Family formula = 10% giving, 40% savings, 50% spending
user penywise morgueFile

The blogosphere has been abuzz the last week or so about What Poor People Do (Or Don't Do). The topic of savings often comes up in discussions about the poor, and with those conversations come lots of misconceptions.

I interviewed the Blackman family a couple weeks ago for a piece on climbing out of poverty. Tiffany Blackman has been trying to climb out of the poverty she inherited from her parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Together with her husband, Rodrico, and their four kids, they've managed to climb up one rung on the income ladder, thanks to lots of hard work, education and savings.

In our conversation, we talked about savings and kids. Specifically: Does she talk to her kids about how to save money? Her answer was an emphatic yes.

Here how she does it:


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Resources
11:49 am
Thu December 5, 2013

Making a list, checking it twice: Books we read, like, want to read and want to like

Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

It seems like everyone has a 'best books' list around this time of year. So we decided to get in on the action. We picked some old books, some new books, some books for kids, some for adults, all of them somehow tied into our State of Opportunity theme.

Without further ado, I present to you [drumroll, please]...

A Not-at-all Comprehensive Reading Guide to Poverty/Race/State of Opportunity Issues

  • The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Lives, by Sasha Abramsky. This book is on my Christmas wish list. It first caught my eye in this New York Times article, and it made the paper's list of 100 Notable Books this year. Here's how the folks at the Times describe it: "This ambitious study, based on Abramsky’s travels around the country meeting the poor, both describes and prescribes." -- Jennifer
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Education
7:00 am
Wed December 4, 2013

'A clean, well-lighted place' for Detroit kids to go after school

Mackenzie Elementary-Middle School provides services to kids and their families and stays open until 7 p.m.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

I don't know about you, but when I was in school, hearing the school bell ring at the end of the day meant one thing: freedom! Time to go home, get a snack, and hang out with friends.

But what if your home life is less than ideal? What if your neighborhood is one of the roughest in the country? That's the situation many kids in Detroit face. So a handful of schools are keeping their doors open well into the evening to try to keep kids in school and off the streets.

Home sweet school building

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Families & Community
7:00 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving comes early to some metro Detroit families

New Hope Baptist Church in Wayne, MI has been serving a pre-Thanksgiving dinner to families from Myers Elementary for eight years.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Break out the turkey, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and pie...it's Thanksgiving time!

But a grand Thanksgiving feast is often out of the question for many families in poverty. So the folks at New Hope Baptist Church in Wayne, Michigan are doing their part to help ensure that students from a nearby school don't go hungry this holiday season.

"We just wanted to show some love," says Virgil Humes, the church's pastor. We want to "show them that we believe in helping the community, and those that might not have a thanksgiving meal, we wanted to show them that we can serve them a Thanksgiving meal so that certainly they won’t be hungry."

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Research
1:00 am
Wed November 20, 2013

How your name might influence what people think about you

user: kvoelker flickr

I've been thinking a lot about names lately - what they mean, what they project, what kinds of assumptions people make when they hear a name. So I decided to call up some experts and ask them: what's in a name?


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Education
8:00 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Ideas & Stuff: A side-by-side comparison of two Michigan school districts

The kids at Novi Meadows spread out during independent reading time
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

A couple weeks ago, we did a story about what you get for a $12,000/pupil education. A few weeks before that, we aired an hour-long show called The Education Gap what we compared two different districts - one that gets around $8,300 per pupil, and the other that gets around $7,600 per pupil.

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