boy listening to radio
Ian T. McFarland / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Earlier this week, my colleague Dustin Dwyer brought you Pushed Out: A documentary on housing in Grand Rapids, our final State of Opportunity documentary. 

While our five-year project is coming to an end, the issues facing low-income kids and families in Michigan aren't. If you want a deep dive into the challenges facing families in poverty, listen to a few of our past documentaries. 

Girl with statue reading book
Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

1. How poverty changes the brain | The Atlantic

We know living in poverty can have physical effects, like increased risk for asthma, obesity and hunger. But growing research suggests that the constant fear and stress experienced by many poor people actually rewires certain parts of the brain.

Book and coffee
rawpixel.com / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Many of you may be looking forward to an extra day or two of rest due to the holiday weekend. It's a great time to catch up on these recent stories you may have missed.

The subtle brilliance of Sesame Street’s first episode starring an autistic Muppet | Vox

mosaic mural of man reading
takomabibelot / flickr

I read a lot during the week when I'm putting together blog posts. Most of what I read I get to share with you, but there are occasions when I don't have time to get to everything.

Here are a few recommendations I think you'll find interesting, as well as a couple of pieces produced by the State of Opportunity team that are worth revisiting.

1. The mile-high promise, and risk, of school choice

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.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

For more on this, read our previous blog post.

The morning after the election, I reached out to a number of people I’ve interviewed in the past who are immigrants, or who work with immigrants.


It’s fair to say there was shock, some in mourning. Some worried for the future. One mother wanted to know how she can set up guardianship for her kids in case she’s deported. She’s been in the U.S. since she was a child. She now has legal status through the Obama administration’s deferred action program. But Trump has promised to end that program.


Lots of people who previously felt safe now don’t.


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

“Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” is a phrase that used to describe trying to do something that was nearly impossible. (Imagine, for a moment, trying to stand up by pulling on your own shoes. You’d look pretty silly.)

But somewhere along the way, it’s become short-hand for the kind of crowd-pleasing rags to riches stories found everywhere from movie screens to the evening news.

flickr user trishhhh

If you are in an abusive situation and you need emergency shelter or transitional housing, you can search for resources in your community at domesticshelters.org.

A few years ago, I was tagging along with a social worker on a visit with one of her clients. The social worker was Joni Cook, she works with the Maternal Infant Health Program at Cherry Health in Grand Rapids. We sat in the living room, with her client, who was cradling a beautiful new baby girl.

And things seem to be going well. But then the client started telling Cook about the baby’s father. She broke down as she talked about him hitting her. She was terrified of what he might do next.  

"She felt very unsafe," Cook said to me this week. "And I remember her saying the people who are supposed to be protecting me are not protecting me."

School Lunch
DC Central Kitchen / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Hi, State of Opportunity fans. This is going to be a pretty quick blog post, since I just want to revisit something I talked about a while back.

It's that time of year again. Children across the country are gearing up for summer break.

Baby yawning
Jill M / Flickr CC / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

When I became a mom, I was surprised – and overwhelmed – by the amount of diapers my daughter went through.

And it was expensive.

I can't imagine what it must be like to have to choose between diapers for your baby, and other necessities like food and rent.