WUOMFM

Jennifer Guerra

Reporter/Producer

Jennifer is a reporter with Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity project. She previously covered arts and culture for the station, and worked as a producer for WFUV in the Bronx.

Her stories and documentaries have won numerous regional and national awards, and her work has aired on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace and Studio 360.

Jennifer graduated from the University of Michigan and received her master's in broadcast journalism from Fordham University in New York. When not working on a story, you can find Jen practicing her tap steps and hanging out with her husband and their two hilarious kids.

jennifer@michiganradio.org

Ways to Connect

nearly one in every five DPS students  qualifies for some special education services
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

When U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Detroit last week, he brought up the Kalamazoo Promise scholarship program. He called it the “best economic development tool” for a city, and urged Detroit to develop something similar.

Photo courtesy of the Gerald R Ford International Airport

Airplanes across the country use de-icing fluid, and airports have to figure out how to deal with the run-off from the fluid.

The Gerald R. Ford International Airport has come up with a $15 million plan to deal with the run-off which contains a substance called glycol. The Grand Rapids airport currently mixes glycol with storm water and dumps it into a tributary, where it breaks down and creates a bacterial slime.

Ed Work / Flickr

Update 3:14 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan say he "couldn’t be more hopeful" about the future of Detroit's public schools.

At today's town hall meeting at the Charles H. Wright Academy in Detroit, Duncan praised Governor Snyder and DPS Emergency Manager Roy Roberts for their commitment to education reform, and he urged everyone at the event to rally around those efforts:

"You have all the building blocks in place to do something remarkable here. Has Detroit struggled? Absolutely, no question about it. But my challenge, and the opportunity here is: Can Detroit become the fastest improving urban district in the country? And I see no reason why that can’t happen."

Duncan says he takes the work he does in Detroit "very, very seriously." He adds that if Detroit public schools haven’t improved by the time he leaves office, he’ll consider his tenure "a failure."

The Secretary also gave a shout out to the Kalamazoo Promise, the anonymously-funded program that pays for almost every Kalamazoo public school graduate to go to a state-supported college or university. Duncan said if Detroit could develop something similar it would be the "best economic development tool" for the city:

"If we could make that guarantee of not just a 2-year but a 4-year university education possible for every young man and woman who graduates from Detroit Public Schools, that would be absolutely amazing."

Governor Snyder, who was also at today's event, says the state needs to do a better job when it comes to educating Michigan’s children. "When we looked at the numbers we only have 17% of our kids college ready," says Snyder. He calls that percentage "absolutely unacceptable."

11:23 a.m.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is visiting Michigan today as part of his "Education and the Economy" bus tour of the Midwest.

This morning he made a stop in Detroit where he joined Governor Rick Snyder, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, and DPS emergency manager Roy Roberts to discuss the status of Detroit Public Schools.

The bus left Detroit and headed for Ann Arbor. Right now, he's participating in a panel discussion at the University of Michigan.  Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra is covering that and will have more for us later.

In Detroit this morning, Duncan told a crowd at the Charles H. Wright Academy of Arts and Science that he takes the progress of Detroit Public Schools personally. Duncan called the district "ground zero" in education reform two years ago. From the Detroit Free Press:

He said that if DPS does not see significant improvements during his tenure in office, he will consider it a personal failure.

“I take the work here very, very personally,” Duncan said.

Since Duncan’s visit in 2009, the district has implemented a five-year academic plan and the graduation rate has grown to 62%, up by about 4%.

The Education Secretary's visit comes a day after the Detroit Public Schools had 55 percent of enrolled students show up for the first day of classes, as Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported.

Duncan said the success of the Detroit Public School system is tied to the overall success of the state. From MLive:

"Just as you can't have a great state without having a great city of Detroit, you cannot revitalize the city of Detroit without a great public education system. Those two things are inextricably linked."

Duncan praised the leadership of Governor Snyder, Detroit Mayor Bing, and DPS emergency manager Roy Roberts for their "alignment of courage" to turn the Detroit school system around.

After the panel discussion in Ann Arbor, Duncan is off to Indiana. Here's a Google Map of Duncan's bus tour:

View Larger Map

user Bernt Rostad / Flickr

Three Detroit businesses earlier this year began to offer up to $25,000 to encourage their employees to buy a place to live in Midtown Detroit. But the "Live Midtown" incentives have created a new kind of housing crisis in the city: a housing shortage. 

Austin Black is a realtor with City Living Detroit in midtown. He says in 2007 - 2008, the area was flush with unsold units. But he says now many of his clients have become frustrated looking for housing in the area.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will make an appearance in Detroit this week, just days after a visit from President Obama. It's part of a three-day “Education and the Economy” tour Secretary Duncan is taking through the Midwest.

User ppdigital / MorgueFile

High school students from Detroit to Marquette will be participating in this year’s Great Michigan Read, a free, statewide book club put on by the Michigan Humanities Council.

This year’s book is "Arc of Justice" by Kevin Boyle. It’s a true story about an African American physician in the 1920s that moves to an all-white neighborhood in Detroit and defends his family’s right to live there.

Kyle Norris

On today's podcast, we hear about a group of Michigan cartoonists who think comics can be an educational and valuable tool for kids.

As Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris explains, cartoonist Jerzy Drozd has picked 21 rural and urban towns in Michigan where he knows people are having a tough time making ends meet. Drozd has been visiting those towns and offering comic-drawing workshops, free of charge, to the kids in those areas. 

Photo courtesy of Books-a-Million

Update 9:30 a.m

Books-a-Million received the green light from a judge to take over 14 former Borders stores, including one in Traverse City. Publishers Weekly has the details on the deal:

Photo Courtesy of the D.I.A.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is struggling to raise money in this tough economy. It doesn’t help that Detroit is still reeling from the recession, and a quarter of its tax base, which helps fund the museum, has fled the city over the past decade.

To help relieve a little pressure, DIA director Graham Beal asked permission to take money from funds dedicated solely to acquisitions, and temporarily use it to cover operating costs. In his monthly newsletter, Beal explained it like this:

Emily Fox / Michigan Radio

On today's podcast, we hear how an artist in Detroit wants to bring color to the city with his brush strokes.

Artists in Seattle and Philadelphia who have been painting large murals on abandoned buildings in an effort to revitalize neighborhoods. Philadelphia for example, has around two-thousand murals to help brighten the city.

Photo courtesy of the Project's facebook page

Students in Flint have written a new play inspired by the string of arson fires that plagued the city last year.

Students at the University of Michigan-Flint spent a good part of the this year interviewing victims of the arson fires that ripped through the city in 2010. The students then transcribed the interviews and strung them together to create a new play called EMBERS: The Flint Fires Verbatim Theatre Project.

A new initiative in Detroit focuses on the role black men and teens play in the city’s revival.

Bruce Giffin / Courtesy of the Sphinx Organization

Aaron Dworkin, founder of  the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the National Council on the Arts. Dworkin is President Obama's first appointment to the Council.

The National Council on the Arts advises the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, currently Rocco Landsman, about policies and programs.

Dworkin founded the Sphinx Organization in 1996 with the goal of "building diversity in classical music."

Frances Levine / Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Detroit native Philip Levine is the country’s new poet laureate.

Levine was born in Detroit in 1928. As a student, he worked a number of jobs at Detroit’s auto plants, and he translated his experience into poetry. His poems depict life in Detroit and the working class in general.

"What Work Is" - introduction and reading by Philip Levine

"They Feed They Lion" - introduction and reading by Philip Levine

Doug Aikenhead / Michigan Radio Picture Project

You can file this story under "silver lining."

Michigan's recession has left a lot of empty buildings in its wake. When James Marks was looking for a larger building to house his t-shirt and flat screen printing company, VG Kids, he looked at a two-story brick building on Railroad Street in Ypsilanti.

The building had plenty of space, but was divided into dozens of small rooms. Marks says the space wasn't a good fit for his company, but it was perfect for artists’ studios:

user penywise / morguefile

The current credit crunch has made it harder for people to get loans from a bank. Gone are the days when you could walk into your local bank branch, flash your credit score and walk out with a loan. So many are turning to their friends and family for help...but is that a good idea?

To lend, or not to lend

When Pete and Michelle Baker wanted to buy a new house, they needed money for a down payment. Their down payment was tied up in their old house, which they hadn't sold yet.

user clarita / morguefile

Classes start today at the new, privately funded Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in southeast Michigan. It's the first of three new medical schools expected to come online in the next few years.

user jdurham / morguefile

Governor Snyder has appointed eleven people to oversee the state’s Education Achievement System. That’s the system designed to turnaround the state’s worst schools – starting with Detroit.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The Cincinnati Art Museum recently discovered it had a long lost treasure trove of rare instruments in its possession. More than 800 antique instruments just sitting in storage…unused and pretty much forgotten.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The Cincinnati Art Museum last week discovered it had a long lost treasure trove of rare instruments in its possession. We're talking more than 800 antique instruments just sitting in storage, unused and pretty much forgotten.

Well it turns out the University of Michigan has three times as many historical instruments housed mostly off campus in a high-security vault.  

Photo courtesy of the Somerset Collection

Retail stores are literally popping up around Detroit this weekend.

You use to have to drive about 30 minutes outside of Detroit if you wanted to shop at the tony, upscale Somerset Collection in Troy. But now you can browse the shelves of Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue in midtown Detroit. It’s part of a new pop up mall of sorts called “Somerset CityLoft."

The retail space will be open for one weekend a month, starting today through Saturday, July 30. (Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.).

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Whole Foods is coming to Detroit.

Photo courtesy of the author

This week's Artpod features an interview from the "Michigan on the Page." It's a web-only series from Michigan Radio, where authors from around the state are interviewed about their own books, about Michigan books in general, and about what it means to be a Michigan writer.

On today's podcast, we turn the mic over to Brian Short, the series' curator, and author Bonnie Jo Campbell.

Campbell's most recent book is the novel Once Upon a River, which has gotten rave reviews. Her previous book, American Salvage, was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Detroit City Skyline
user Bernt Rostad / flickr

Several Detroit businesses are paying their employees to move to the city as part of a new incentive program called "Live Downtown."

Employees can get $20,000 dollars toward the purchase of a new home. Those who rent will get up to $3,500 for two years. Even employees who already live in the city can get money to make home improvements.

Here's a list of the 5 companies behind the new "Live Downtown" program:

Television remote control
user ppdigital / morguefile

A new reality show will focus on five Muslim families in Dearborn.

Filming is already underway for the new reality show “All-American Muslims.” The show will debut in November on TLC, the channel behind other reality shows like "Sister Wives" and "Kate Plus 8."

Ray Anthony Photography

The University of Michigan football stadium is cashing in on the ever-growing wedding industry.

The Big House is now available for weddings.

Couples can pay $6,000 to get ready in the home and visitor locker rooms, and then head to the field for an hour-long ceremony.

Photo courtesy of Stephen Zacks

Flint is in the spotlight on today's Artpod.

We talk a lot about Detroit’s path to revival, but drive an hour northwest to Flint and you’ll find a city whose struggles are similar if not worse than Detroit's.  Now a coalition of artists, city officials and residents is trying to re-write Flint's story through art.

Lemonade economics

Jul 21, 2011
Amelia Carpenter / Michigan Radio

(Here's a version of the story that aired on Michigan Radio.)

Turns out even lemonade stands aren’t immune to Michigan’s economic recession.

Molly and Lucy Prochaska have been in the lemonade business for the past five years. They sell lemonade, iced tea, and Arnold Palmers (50 cents for a small cup, $1.00 for a large.)  They also sell popsicles at fifty cents a piece, which is a new addition this year.

They’ve got a cash register, lots of signage. They're also located close to downtown, so there's a good amount of foot traffic from the Ann Arbor Art Fairs.

But 12-year old Molly says business just isn’t what it used to be:

MOLLY PROCHASKA: The first year was really nice, we got lots of money. But after that, when the economy started to go down we didn’t get as much money.

JENNIFER GUERRA: You think it had to do with the economy?

MOLLY PROCHASKA: Probably. People didn’t want to spend as much. They wanted to save their money.

The girls made around $200 their first year. Molly is saving up her lemonade money to buy a camera; Lucy wants to buy an iPad.

But it's not all doom and gloom at the lemonade stand. Molly says business this year is picking up a bit. She says that could mean one of two things: the economy's picking up, or more people are coming because it's "super hot out."

Also, side note, it looks like Molly and Lucy might have to step up their game now that a new lemonade stand popped up a block away. Not only is the new stand charging less for a cup, but they also use fresh lemons.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The new teacher tenure law that Governor Snyder signed this week makes it easier for school districts to fire teachers in classrooms where students are struggling.  As Rick Pluta reports, the law "eliminates discipline and layoff rules as a subject of collective bargaining with teachers unions."

The devil is in the details

Photo by penywise / morgueFile

The median income for Michigan households has dropped by more than $9,000 over the past decade. Only one other state, Hawaii, has seen a bigger loss in income.

Pages