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Low-income Grand Rapids preschoolers are catching up. Will Lansing notice?

Apr 24, 2018
In a neighborhood in southwest Grand Rapids, teacher Lorena Lopez leads a group of 4-year-old students.
Photo courtesy of Early Learning Neighborhood Collaborative

In some of the poorest neighborhoods in Grand Rapids, in places inured to academic failure, children are grasping at a chance to defy the odds.

So it was one recent spring day, in a pre-K classroom on the city’s southwest side. In a poor, largely Hispanic neighborhood, where more than half of adults over age 25 lack a high school degree, a group 4-year-olds watched a classmate draw a “2” and a squiggly “0” on a whiteboard.

Their teacher, Sadie Kovich, asked: “What is it if the 2 is in front and a 0 is in back?”

University of Michigan students wait for a bus
The University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1f2P1w6

In January, the University of Michigan’s Central Student Government (CSG) released their anticipated “Campus Affordability Guide.” The guide was meant to help lower income students save money.

Some of the advice included canceling cleaning or laundry services, selling your car for some extra cash, and buying fewer snacks.

Inconsistent lead level readings led to the closure of three buildings on Northern Michigan University's campus.
Flickr user Bart / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Low-income, rural areas are the most vulnerable to drinking water quality violations that could affect people’s health, according to a new nationwide study.

Detroit skyline with GM building
Pixabay.com

The city of Detroit is offering $1 million in grants to help lift residents out of poverty and into jobs. The initiative is a partnership between the city and the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation.

Grants are available to community organizations offering services like literacy education, vocational training, and support services to Detroit residents enrolled in SNAP -- the federal food assistance program.

Jeff Donofrio is executive director of workforce development for the city of Detroit. He says low-income job seekers in the city often face many challenges.

Groceries, including milk, eggs and produce, sitting on a counter.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

"Making Ends Meet" is a new report from the Michigan League for Public Policy that reveals the average cost of living throughout Michigan.

In its seventh annual report, the policy organization analyzed housing data, child care costs, food expenses, health care costs, and other necessities to calculate a “basic needs income level.”

Michigan Legislature votes to ban local food, beverage taxes
Flickr user Liz West / Flickr / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

An advocacy group for low-income people has been going over the new state budget. The Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP) found some good things in the budget, and a whole lot of federal money left on the table.

Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO of the MLPP, started with the good things:

Cass Community Social Services of Detroit

Soon, tiny houses will start popping up in Detroit. Construction on the first house is slated to begin within two weeks. The goal is to provide homes for some of the city’s homeless, senior citizens and students who have aged out of foster care.