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Families & Community

The connections that build opportunity.

three girls on stage in flapper costumes
Courtesy of 4th Wall Theatre Company

Did you ever dream of seeing your name on a Broadway marquee as a kid?

If so, you probably have some fond memories of memorizing lines and making costumes for school plays. But for kids with intellectual and developmental disabilities, finding a spotlight isn’t always easy.

Mike Blank / Michigan Radio

 

When we talk about segregated schools, we need to look no further than Detroit. Census figures from the Michigan Department of Education tell us Detroit is a city where more than 82% of its students are African-American, just 2% are white and only 0.24% are multi-racial.

A new charter school on Detroit's east side, in the Indian Village neighborhood, is working hard to change that.

Detroit Prep is a free public charter school authorized by Grand Valley State University. Right now, it's got kindergarten and first grade students. 

Its founders were determined that Detroit Prep would be the city's first intentionally diverse charter school. So they set out by casting a wide net in recruiting students and in offering strong academics.

Clipping courtesy of Ray Litt / via Detroit Free Press

Sixty-two years after the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, many school districts in Michigan and throughout the country remain deeply segregated.

In the Detroit City School District, for example, just 2.18% of students are white, while more than 80% are black. In many of the city’s suburbs, the numbers are reversed. In Utica Community Schools (which includes Sterling Heights), about 86% of students are white, while fewer than 5% are black.

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.

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.

The fear is real. But we can overcome it by how we live our lives.

Dec 21, 2016
arthurjohnpicton on flickr, CC by-NC 2.0

My name is Alvin Thomas. I’m the pastor of The Nations Church in Utica, Michigan.

My parents, my mom and dad, were born in south India. I was born in New York City, so I feel American.

But, as my skin color will tell you, I’m Indian.

Woman with babies.
Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

More moms in the U.S. are the primary breadwinners for their households than ever before - earning as much as or more than their husbands. That's according to a new report from the Center for American Progress.

young girl playing in the snow
Clintus / Flickr CC / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When the school bell rings on Friday afternoon, most students in the U.S. will be headed home for two glorious weeks of winter break.

But as that time off is around the holidays, the long break can also be a recipe for restless children and parents at their wits' end. 

To help parents stay sane into the new year and avoid hearing "I'm bored" for two weeks straight, we compiled some ideas for winter break activities to do as a family. 

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