WUOMFM

Jennifer Guerra

Reporter/Producer

Jennifer is a reporter with Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and worked as a producer for WFUV 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 master's in broadcast journalism from Fordham University in New York. When not working on a story, you can find Jen practicing her tap steps and hanging out with her husband and their two hilarious kids.

Ways to Connect

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There has been very little talk about poverty in this election. Just how little, you ask? So little there was an entire #talkpoverty twitter campaign to try to get the topic front and center at the three presidential debates. No such luck

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

There is a big push to get kids "kindergarten ready," with an emphasis on the importance of preschool.

But some experts say waiting until preschool is too late.

Researcher Craig T. Ramey has spent his entire academic life studying programs that impact vulnerable children, and he says "far and away early childhood education is the most powerful instrument we have to prepare people to lead productive lives." And by "early" he means starting at birth.

JENNIFER GUERRA: I want to introduce you to a young mom, her name is Angela. She’s 21 years old. She lives with her son in a two bedroom, section eight apartment, just outside Detroit in Highland Park.

ANGELA: I have one kid and one on the way. Want me to say his name? His name is Darrion, he’s three years old.

JG: Darrion has a crazy amount of energy. He likes to bounce around his two-bedroom apartment like the springiest frog you’ve ever seen. He’s also a very big fan of toy cars. And soon, his mom tells me, Darrion is going to be a big brother.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

In our final segment of State of Opportunity, Jennifer Guerra looks at what's being done today to help ensure that all children have an equal shot at celebrating their first birth - no matter where they live, what color their skin is, or how much money their parents have in the bank.

A Healthy Start approach, or how to get the black infant mortality rate down to zero

State of Opportunity reporter Jennifer Guerra tagged along with Jenny Hall on a home visit to see a client of hers who lives near Flint. 

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In part two of our State of Opportunity documentary on infant mortality and disparities, we ask the question: Why are black babies two and a half times more likely to die before they turn one than white babies? 

Two of the leading causes of infant mortality are babies that are born too soon or too small, and a disproportionate amount of those babies are African American. 

Growing up in a toxic soup

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Behind the statistics: A personal tragedy

We talked previously about Chantania Smith and her struggle with losing a child. 

Six months into her pregnancy, Smith’s doctors discovered she had a short cervix, which is a major cause of preterm birth and a leading indicator for infant mortality.

When she went into labor a month and a half later, the umbilical cord prolapsed and came out first, and Smith was rushed to the hospital for an emergency C-section.  

On January 14, 2010, she gave birth to a little baby boy named Jerome – JJ for short. 

Alex Kotlowitz argues in this weekend's New York Times that schools alone can't improve the lives of poor children. He says we need to demand the best from our teachers, but we also need to "grapple with the forces that bear down on the lives of their students" before we can close the economic divide.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

Just when you thought the Republican and Democratic national conventions were over...

I'm here to talk about an event that took place behind the scenes at one of the conventions -- specifically the DNC in Charlotte, NC. Between all the speeches and sound bites and people in funny hats mugging for the camera, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation held a symposium in Charlotte, where they released a 47-page report on the profound achievement and opportunity gaps that African American males face.

The "Challenge the Status Quo" report looks at not only those factors that impede academic progress for black male students, but also what can be done about it. 

You can check out the full report here, which is packed with data and research from a wide range of studies. Meantime, here are a few highlights:

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When it comes to keeping infants alive in Michigan, we're not doing that great a job.

Michigan's infant mortality rate has been higher than the national average for more than two decades. 

Here are the latest numbers:

For every 1,000 babies born in Michigan, roughly seven won't make it to their first birthday.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

What if we told you there was a man in Harlem who thinks he's figured out how to break the cycle of poverty?

You'd probably want to meet him, right? We sure did.

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