State of Opportunity

Wednesday during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

State of Opportunity is a special project produced by Michigan Radio with major financial support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The project features documentary reports, first-person storytelling, youth journalists, an online portal, and Michigan Radio’s Public Insight Network.

The goal is to expose the barriers children of low income families in Michigan face in achieving success.

people in graduation caps and gowns
Will Folsom / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Nationwide, each school guidance counselor is responsible, on average, for about 500 students . Their job includes providing students with academic skills support and helping with goal setting and academic and career plans. And the help students receive can have a major impact on their lives even after high school graduation, according to a recent analysis by the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Researchers analyzed data from a longitudinal study that follows 23,000 students who started 9th grade in 2009.

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.”

Girl reading book
Personal Creations / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0 / www.personalcreations.com

I love reading paper books. The process of perusing bookstore and library shelves. The feeling of turning pages and the way they smell. A few years ago, my husband bought me a Nook from Barnes and Noble so I could download e-books and have them at my fingertips. But I must admit that after a few uses, it now sits unused on my nightstand. Why? Because reading books in print gives me an experience reading e-books doesn't. And I'm not alone. Over half of kids ages 6 to 17 prefer to read in print, according to a recent report from Scholastic .

Kid hanging upside down at playground
Virginia State Parks / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

By the time they are just 18 months old, kids from low-income families and those from higher-income families display significant differences in their vocabularies. Studies suggest that by age three, poor children hear roughly 30 million fewer words than their affluent peers. It's a disparity that researchers in the early 1990s coined the " word gap ." Basically, poor kids learn, understand and use fewer words. It's something that contributes to the persistent achievement gap we've talked a...

smoking a cigarette
Julie / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Lighting up may become a lot less convenient for smokers who live in public housing. That's because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a sweeping rule this week that prohibits smoking in all federally subsidized public housing developments in the U.S. The rule, which takes effect early next year, bans residents in public housing developments from smoking lit tobacco products – cigarettes, cigars or pipes – in all living units, indoor common areas, administrative...

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.

Pictures of Money / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When people talk about poverty, the conversation typically revolves around the economic condition of a household. Even here at State of Opportunity , our definition of poverty never strays too far from a discussion of income. For example, if a family of four earns less than $24,000 a year , they live below the poverty line. If they make more than $24,000, they live above the poverty line . Simple, right? But according to a new study from Georgia Tech, poverty should be measured by more than...

homeless man
Pedro Ribeiro Simoes / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

November is winding down and temperatures here in Michigan are dropping. For many – myself included – the winter months can be a nuisance. But for people experiencing homelessness, the harsh, cold months can be brutal. Currently, there are nearly 550,000 people in the U.S. experiencing homelessness on any given night. But that number is down nearly 3% from 2015, according to a recent report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development . HUD’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report...

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.

Wesley Fryer / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

U.S. Education Secretary John B. King, Jr. is urging all states to eliminate corporal punishment - punishments like spanking or paddling - from schools. In a letter to governors and chief state school officers dated Tuesday, King calls the practice "harmful and ineffective." King wrote : If you have not already, I urge you to eliminate this practice from your schools, and instead promote supportive, effective disciplinary measures. Many of you, and your districts and educators, are leading...