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Families & Community

The connections that build opportunity.

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 As you may have noticed from the wall-to-wall news coverage, the Pope is in America. Today I tuned in to the Pope's historic address to a joint session of Congress, eager to hear what he had to say to America's leaders on the subject of poverty. As a Jesuit priest, serving the poor was a part of Pope Francis' work long before he was Pope Francis. But it wasn't his own work he mentioned in his speech to Congress. Instead, he talked about the work of Dorothy Day, an American activist and founder of the Catholic Worker movement. 

Of course, I'd heard of Dorothy Day, but I have to be honest and say I didn't know much about her work. I spent a good part of today studying up.

user Santa Catalina School / flickr

I am no stranger to uniforms. I went to Catholic school for 12 years, so from kindergarten through my senior year of high school I had to wear some iteration of white button-down shirt with plaid skirt, jumper or pants. And you know what? I actually liked it. It was so easy to get ready in the morning; no thought went into what I was wearing or whether I looked cool. So from a vanity standpoint and, let's face it, a laziness standpoint, the utilitarian function of the school uniform was a plus.

Wikimedia Commons

They say it's 11 million people. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers. People who are living in the United States without a piece of paper to prove they have the legal right to do so. 

The people who are charged with writing laws have so far come up with no law that can solve this problem. But there are ideas. One idea in particular seems to be getting a lot of air time lately: Just round up all these 11 million people and send them away. 

Let's try to imagine what that would look like. 

EdBuild / US Census, 2006-2013

In the aftermath of the Great Recession the number of students living in poverty is continuing to increase. That is the key finding of seven years of data taken from every public school district in the country. This data was organized geographically by EdBuild, a new national nonprofit focusing on funding for public education.

Shifting Demographics

Renee McGurk / Flickr

Last week on State of Opportunity, we shared Alex’s story about how hard it is for kids in foster care to get a car, let alone a driver’s license.

Transportation isn’t just an issue in rural areas of the state like Berrien County, where Alex was 20 miles away from everything. It can be a huge barrier for folks who live in the city, too - like Amber Thomas.

ladder
User fdecomite / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

How did you land your first job? I'm not talking about the first job you got out of college, I'm talking about the first job where you earned a paycheck and then probably went out and immediately spent it on music and movie tickets.

PAULA LAQUERRE

I first met Alex back in January, when I did a story about aging out of the foster care system.

Alex lives in rural Berrien County. At a minimum, he's 20 miles from everything; college classes, any work he could find, really everything. He didn't have a car, so he caught a lot of rides with Paula Laquerre, a state worker helping Alex as he left the foster care system. During those rides they would plot how Alex was going to finally get a car.

One student's journey from court ward to business owner

Jul 31, 2015
Jada Davis

After writing about the latest KidsCount report last week, I was feeling pretty discouraged. It’s hard to get excited about the future of kids in Michigan when one in four is living in poverty.

This week I wanted to write about something a little bit lighter. This is a state of opportunity, after all. Michigan’s statistics don’t always reflect that, but Jada Davis’ story does. 

Thanks for everything, State of Opportunity universe

Jul 26, 2015

Today is my last day at State of Opportunity. I'm moving to California where I'll be taking part in the John S.Knight Journalism Fellowship

It's a great opportunity, and over the next year I'll be working to develop new ideas and approaches to serving undervalued news consumers.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

We use the "gap" metaphor a lot. The opportunity gap. The discipline gap. The achievement gap. Well, now we've got another one to add to the list: the adventure gap, where minorities, especially those in inner cities, are much less likely than their white peers to experience the outdoors – especially state and national parks. 

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