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Public Insight Network

"It should not have to hurt to be poor."

Dec 24, 2013
Jeff Kubina / Flickr

For the next few days we're featuring stories of ordinary listeners who read or heard a story on State of Opportunity and decided to give some of their resources or time as a result. We know many of you have done the same. If you've got a story to share or an idea of how people could help let us know here. If you need ideas of what you could do, check out the resources page. We'll update it with  listener suggestions as they come in.

Listeners who contact us to follow up on stories come from different experiences with volunteering. Sure, everyone helps out friends and family in one way or another, but to reach out and help a complete stranger---for some it's not something they'd ordinarily do, but they take the leap and do it anyway. But for others, service is a way of life.

A "little nudge" from one listener's family to another

Dec 23, 2013

For the next few days we're featuring stories of ordinary listeners who read or heard a story on State of Opportunity and decided to give some of their resources or time as a result. We know many of you have done the same. If you've got a story to share or an idea of how people could help let us know here. If you need ideas of what you could do, check out the resources page. We'll update it with  listener suggestions as they come in.  

When Jennifer Guerra spoke with the Hood family of Hillsdale, MI, their oldest child Emma was enrolled in preschool. But, the family was having trouble finding a spot for two-year-old Gracie in Early Head Start.

There was a lot riding on Gracie being able to start school: her mom, Amanda, was ready to finish school and bring much needed income into the family. Amanda was frustrated, "It just annoys me that we want to do something with our lives and we want to better ourselves and we want to get ahead, but we don’t have a way to."

One listener's family, who asked to remain anonymous, felt compelled to help. The family contacted Jennifer and, through her, made contact with Amanda Hood to help pay for Gracie's preschool.

Kathy Ponce / Flickr

For the next few days we're featuring stories of ordinary listeners who read or heard a story on State of Opportunity and decided to give some of their resources or time as a result. We know many of you have done the same. If you've got a story to share or an idea of how people could help let us know here. If you need ideas of what you could do, check out the resources page. We'll update it with  listener suggestions as they come in.

We wrap up our State of Opportunity coverage for the year with a conversation between two women whose paths crossed after hearing a story on the radio. One of the women, Keisha, lives in poverty with her three young children. The other one, Judy, lives a very comfortable life in Ann Arbor with her husband. The two share the story of how they met a year ago, right around the holidays. The transcript is below. 


In the Story Booth: why don't guys like ZUMBA?

Sep 6, 2013
The Corner Health Center

The Corner Health Center in Ypsilanti is a place adolescents and the children of adolescents can get affordable, high quality health care.  Staff and patients at the Corner are featured in this story about why more Medicaid-eligible teenagers in the state aren't getting signed up.

We also took State of Opportunity's story booth to the clinic this summer to talk to teenagers involved in a summer fitness program called "Turn the Corner." 

The stories are full of honesty, humor and a fair amount of well-deserved teenage skepticism. Listen in to Josh Cornett, Desiree Trim, and Reyannah Nelson Chambers share stories about body image, guys who like  ZUMBA, and society needing to give teens the benefit of the doubt.

This audio postcard  was produced by Gabrielle Emanuel. 

Think you know how to make schools better? Read this.

Aug 30, 2013
Steve Rhodes / flickr

Almost everyone is well-qualified to offer an opinion on how to "fix" education because almost everyone has been to school or is in school now. That doesn't mean everyone weighing in will have a great idea, but at least we all know what loved about our school or what we wish would have been different.

We want these experiences for a special we're doing in the middle of September. We'll produce short pieces with your questions, thoughts, and experiences.

We want to know things like, if you went to school in Michigan do you think your education prepared you for a successful life? What do you see in schools now that works?

What does it feel like to go to a school where the expectations aren't high? And what confuses you about the way education is funded or structured?

Weigh in here and forward the link around to those you know. Talking heads are helpful, but it's more powerful and often informative when we can learn and connect to the experiences of people around the state.

Courtesy of the West Michigan Arts and Technology Center / courttesy of WMCAT

Only a handful of public schools in Grand Rapids still offer art classes of any kind. To fill the gap, the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT) offers free art education at their facility in downtown Grand Rapids.

State of Opportunity's Story Booth stopped by WMCAT this summer. The booth goes out across the state to capture stories we might not otherwise hear.

Teenagers participating in various summer art education programs shared stories about what art means to them.  

Can Michigan make aging out of foster care easier?

Jul 9, 2013
Young people at the Fostering Success conference, trying to prepare  to age out of the foster care system.
Maddy Day / Fostering Success Michigan

The roughly 14,000 young people in Michigan’s foster care system are expected to live on their own once they turn 18, if they're still in the system at that time. It is a transition that for many, does not go well.

In recognition of these bleak outcomes, there were about 200 young people ages 14 through 21 milling around a business school building at Ferris State University late last month, for the first day of a two day conference.

Dispatches from the Storybooth: Girls Group

Jul 2, 2013

State of Opportunity's story booth has been busy the last few weeks. It has traveled to Lansing, Big Rapids, Grand Rapids, and around the corner in Ann Arbor. Plenty of these stories will be on the air throughout the summer. 

Almost all of the interactions start out the same. Someone sits or stands in front of the microphone, takes a deep breath and is forced to recount for me what they had for breakfast so I can sound check.

voxphoto / flickr

This morning I was scolded via email by a listener who'd gotten a request from me for help on a story we're working on right now. (For a list of some of the stories see below.)

One of the things the listener objected to was that I was asking for help in the first place. This person felt I must not understand the issue I wanted to know more about. That by asking for audience experiences I was trying to pass off any research I could do myself onto folks too busy with their own lives to also do my work for me. 

Thomas Levinson / flickr

I spend a lot of my time, as many journalists do, trying to convince people to share their experiences and stories. Sometimes it takes a lot of work. 

Most of my persuasive skills have to be channeled into convincing people they have a story worth telling, that their experiences matters. It does matter. The telling of every day experiences informs and connects people. Reporters can put connective tissue made up of context and background around these experiences and out comes a news story. 

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