Families & Community

The connections that build opportunity.

A young girl plucks out notes on the violin
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

No doubt you’ve heard by now about Pokemon Go!. It was all the rage this summer. But we did manage to find a group of kids who put down their smartphones and picked up something much more old school.

Seven weeks ago, Kennedy Craig had never held a violin in her hands, let alone play one. But here she was, seven weeks later, plucking out "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on a pint-sized violin. She likes the instrument so much she wants "to get one for Christmas!"

three women and one man with microphone
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

That's the question we explored at our latest State of Opportunity live event. 

We had a full house at the Cook Library Center in Grand Rapids on Thursday for "Stories From the Shadows." The evening included personal stories from undocumented immigrants living in Grand Rapids as well as a panel discussion about the most pressing issues facing that community.  

State of Opportunity reporter Dustin Dwyer moderated the conversation with our three panelists: 

Baron Coleman is a Neighborhood Police Officer for the city of Detroit
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Trust between police and the black community has taken a major hit after the spate of recent police shootings of black men around the country. So this week, we're taking a look at how some Michigan cities are trying to rebuild that trust, starting at the neighborhood level.

 

 

 

I'm the police, and I'm here to help...and BBQ

 

Stories From the Shadows: Life as an undocumented immigrant

Thursday, August 18, 6:30-8:00

Cook Library Center

1100 Grandville Ave. SW

Grand Rapids, MI

49503

-Free admission-

 

The debate over immigration in America is heated. And it's become a major talking point in this year's presidential election. But beyond the headlines, what is life really like for undocumented immigrants in Michigan?

 

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Highland Park, Michigan was the birthplace of the automotive moving assembly line. The Highland Park Ford Plant produced the Model T, the world's first affordable car.

But the small town embedded within Detroit has since fallen on hard times.

three young men in front of poster board
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

The world hit a grim milestone this year. There are now more than 60 million refugees worldwide. That's the highest number ever recorded. The U.S. will accept 85,000 of them in 2016. 

The global humanitarian crisis has led to a heated political debate in Michigan, which is one of the top states for refugee resettlement in the country. But  advocates say that debate often overlooks the benefits that refugees bring to the communities where they settle.  

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

The Democratic National Convention kicked off Monday in Philadelphia, and it's expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the city.

And while attendees may know Philly as the City of Brotherly Love, they may be less aware that it's home to roughly 15,000 people experiencing homelessness – around 700 of them unsheltered.

During the DNC, extra resources are available to homeless residents.

Preschoolers
U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Early Tuesday, 37-year-old Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police outside the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

On an industrial block on Detroit's east side, there's a big, black building that sits along a stretch of warehouses. The front of the building is covered in glass windows. A banner sprawled across screams: "Welcome to Downtown Boxing Gym!"

The building is home to the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program. The afterschool program was started by Khali Sweeney in 2007.

mom and four kids
April Van Buren / Michigan Radio

Foster care is supposed to be a temporary fix. When a child ends up in state care, the first goal is to reunite them with their birth families. But only about half of the 13,000 children in Michigan’s child welfare system every year end up going home. A small group of parents in Washtenaw County wants to change that. 

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