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Free Training: Certify Yourself in Mental Health First Aid

The Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton, Ingham Counties has sub-contracted with Kent County Network 180 to receive $70,000 through a grant with the State of Michigan to hold Youth Mental Health First Aid classes.  These classes are free and you need no other education.  Classes are taking place at 812 E Jolly Road Lansing, Mi 48190 on August 14, August 18, August 26, August 28, September 3, September 10, September 18, September 22, September 23,  and September 30. 
Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human service workers, and caring citizens how to help an adolescent (12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. You will learn common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, potential warning signs and risk factors for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including ADHA), and eating disorders, 5-step Action Plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and you will find resources available to help someone with a mental health problem.
Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who, regularly interact with young people but this class is open to all members of the communities in Ingham, Clinton, and Eaton counties.  A free lunch is provided. 
Class time is from 8:30-5:00 p.m. and continuing education credits are available for teacher, nurses, social workers and substance use providers.
Adult Mental Health First Aid trainings are also available.  There are two classes left with openings.  September 11 and September 29.
The training is free for those who live/work in Clinton, Ingham, and  Eaton Counties.  To register contact 517-346-8244 or 517-346-8238.  You may also register at www.eventbrite.com.  Contact Stacy Smith at 517-449-4850 with any questions.

How teachers are solving the problem of incompetent teachers


Greg Jouriles, one of the best high school teachers I know, still remembers a conversation 17 years ago with a top student. Jouriles was the teacher union bargaining chair. His team had just negotiated the best contract he could get, but he was irked there would be no raises that year. The student seemed unmoved. “Don’t you think we deserve a raise?” Jouriles said.

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Education Trust-Midwest Statement on MME results

Today the state’s release of the Michigan Merit Exam (MME) and ACT College Readiness Assessment results reveal slight progress in achievement among Michigan high school students. Unfortunately, the state is still struggling with low achievement, while large achievement gaps remain among African-American, Latino and low-income students.
High school achievement has been one of the few hopeful areas of achievement for Michigan. Fourth-grade and eighth-grade learning levels are among the lowest in the country for student progress compared to other states over the last ten years, as Ed Trust-Midwest’s “2014 State of Michigan Education” report showed. Ed Trust-Midwest is a non-partisan research and policy organization dedicated to raising student learning for all Michigan students.
Today’s results show slight improvement in learning overall. However, Michigan is still seeing low levels of learning overall, and exceedingly low learning levels for some groups of students.
“While we are glad to see some progress, we know that we can do better for our students,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of Ed Trust-Midwest, in response to today’s release. “There are many states that we can look to for models of how to dramatically raise learning for all children.
“The good news is, our state leaders are committed to proven strategies to improve our public schools, including the implementation of college- and career-ready standards and teacher support and evaluation,” she added. “The Michigan Merit Curriculum – and of course, the Michigan educators teaching the rigorous curriculum -- deserve credit for the improvement we’re seeing in learning overall.”
In most subjects, the persistent gaps between groups of students remain large. For example, there is a 27.6 percentage point gap in proficiency between African-American students compared to white students in MME math. The black-white gap is similarly wide in other subjects. The proficiency gap between low-income and higher-income students is 25.8 percentage points in MME reading.
In addition to considerable achievement gaps among groups of students, today’s release also exposes significantly low levels of performance on the MME:
      *Only six percent of African-American students are proficient in 11th grade MME math statewide. This is virtually unchanged from years past.? 
      *Statewide, Latino 11th grade students made gains in MME reading, jumping from 37.7% proficient in 2011 to 45.4% in 2014. Similarly, low-income students jumped from 35.1% proficient in 2011 to 43% in 2014.? 
      *Among Detroit Public School (DPS) African-American students, only 6.1% were proficient in 11th grade math. At the same time, Grand Rapids Public Schools (4.4%), Saginaw School District (4%), Flint Public Schools (2.3%), and Pontiac School District (1.4%) all had smaller percentages of African-American students reaching proficiency in MME math.? 
      *In 11th grade reading, 41.9% of Latino students were proficient at DPS. Similar to math, school districts like Cesar Chavez Academy (33.6%), Grand Rapids Public Schools (28.8%), and Pontiac School District (24.6%), all had fewer percentages of Latino students scoring proficient in reading. 
The MME and ACT assessments are used to gauge whether Michigan high school students are meeting academic standards in reading, mathematics, science, and social studies.
Today’s release also includes data on how Michigan students performed on the ACT test – an important measure of students’ readiness for college. While student achievement on the ACT has inched up since the adoption of the rigorous Michigan Merit Curriculum – countering opponents’ concerns that students could not meet the more rigorous expectations – the results still reveal that most Michigan high school students are not being prepared for college or for jobs in a 21st Century knowledge economy.

      *17.8% of 11th grade students statewide were proficient in the ACT exam for all subjects.? 
      *At Detroit Public Schools, just 2.7% of students were proficient on the ACT in all subjects.? 
      *Grand Rapids Public Schools had only 10% of its 11th graders proficient on the ACT in all subjects.? 
      *Statewide, only 2.6% of African-American students, 7.9% of Latino students, and 6.5% of low-income students scored proficient on the ACT in all subjects.? 
      *There is an 18.4 percentage point gap in proficiency statewide between African-American and white students on the ACT in all subjects. 
The Education Trust-Midwest is Michigan's only statewide, non-partisan education research, information and advocacy organization focused on what is best for Michigan students. Our mission is to work for the high achievement of all students, particularly low-income, African-American, Latino and American-Indian students in Michigan, and to provide honest, reliable education information and expertise to our state's families and policymakers.

Statement from The Education Trust-Midwest on the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Teacher Equity Strategy

Today U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced his intention to focus new energy on the problem of unequal access to quality teachers. Congress first outlawed this practice in 2002.  But that provision of federal law has mostly been ignored. 
“We hope today’s action provides Michigan a fresh opportunity to do better on this issue at the state and district level,” said Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest.  “For too long, our tendency to assign the strongest teachers disproportionately to our most advantaged students has compromised the futures of millions of low-income students and students of color.”
Research tells us why this issue is so important to students of color and low-income children:
      *According to a national survey of teachers, core classes in our nation’s high-poverty schools are twice as likely to be taught by out-of-field teachers as are classes in low-poverty schools.  ? 
      *Researchers found that in Washington State, disadvantaged students get less than their fair share of the strongest teachers, regardless of the measure used.? 
      *An Ed Trust—West analysis shows that in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Latino and African-American students are two to three times more likely to have low-performing teachers than their white and Asian peers.
“As long as these teacher quality gaps persist, we will never achieve our national values of equity and opportunity for all Americans,” Arellano said. “Thankfully, these gaps are not inevitable. Michigan leaders and school districts can take steps to get strong teachers to the low-income students and students of color who need and deserve them.”
Arellano added: “It’s important to note Michigan’s on-going work to improve teacher evaluation practices, teacher preparation, and licensure.  They are necessary and important, though it is not enough.  They are first steps toward raising the quality of the teaching profession, but they will not ensure that students of color and low-income students get more of the strongest teachers. That will only happen with targeted action that expects, prioritizes, and removes barriers to equitable access.”
Some states and districts are already leading the way and can serve as exemplars.
      *Through their Strategic Staffing Initiative, the Charlotte-Mecklenberg School District has been working for years to get especially strong principals and teachers to its highest poverty schools. ? 
      *In partnership with Teach Plus, Boston Public Schools and the District of Columbia Public Schools are working to attract and retain strong teachers to the lowest performing schools by providing opportunities for shared decision-making and career growth through formal teacher leadership roles.? 
      * Florida prohibits districts from disproportionately assigning poorly performing and out-of-field teachers to the lowest performing schools. 

Deborah Veney Robinson, vice president for government affairs at The Education Trust, said:
“These states and districts haven’t yet solved the problem of equitable access – but they’ve moved in the right direction by asserting responsibility and taking action. Done well, the Department’s teacher equity strategy can make this kind of leadership the rule rather than the exception. The nation’s low-income students and students of color have already waited far too long for action.”  
 “To be sure, there are outstanding teachers in every community and every school,” Robinson added. “But the evidence is clear: any way the data are analyzed — by teacher experience, content knowledge, churn, absenteeism, or effectiveness at growing student learning — low-income students and students of color get less than their white, more affluent peers.”
The Education Trust-Midwest is Michigan's only state-wide, non-partisan education research, information and advocacy organization focused on what is best for Michigan students. Our mission is to work for the high achievement of all students, particularly low-income, African-American, Latino and American-Indian students in Michigan, and to provide honest, reliable education information and expertise to our state's families and policymakers.

Nonprofit wins $2.4M grant for families in poverty

A foundation is committing $2.4 million to a local nonprofit help “raise vulnerable children and families out of poverty” in Grand Rapids’ neighborhoods.

LINC Community Revitalization in Grand Rapids said today that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek awarded the grant to the nonprofit, which targets Grand Rapids' Southtown neighborhood.

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Michigan schools' finances "stabilizing," says state superintendent

Late last year, the state’s top education official had dire predictions for the finances of Michigan schools. He predicted the number of districts in deficit could reach 100 “before long.”

Now, state Superintendent Mike Flanagan says the situation is stabilizing, and he credits increased funding from the state.

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University Prep Schools Partners with Detroit Yacht Club to Launch First-ever Sailing Program

University Prep Schools, one of Detroit’s longest-standing charter school systems, today announced an all-new sailing program in partnership with the Detroit Yacht Club. Continuing its commitment to access, opportunity and experience, U Prep Schools will offer the four-week class to 25 of its University Prep Science & Math (UPSM) middle and high school students this summer. Given its STEAM curriculum, the school system will pilot the program within the UPSM district, as an extracurricular supplement to the students’ science and engineering coursework. The program, which was made possible by an initial anonymous donation of $100,000, is slated to run from July 7 to August 1.
“We are really looking to change the game when it comes to urban education in Detroit; not only in the classroom, but beyond,” said Mark Ornstein, CEO of University Prep Schools, which oversees operations at UPSM and its sister district, University Prep Academy. “University Prep Schools’ students deserve every advantage and opportunity afforded students with significantly more resources. With the help of the community and that of the Detroit Yacht Club, we’re leveling the playing field with this program.”
The first partnership of its kind, University Prep Schools and the Detroit Yacht Club will launch the program in conjunction with the club’s prestigious Junior Sailing Program. UPSM students will learn the basics of the sport from some of the club’s most noted instructors and returning sailing program alumni. Students were required to apply to participate in UPSM’s inaugural sailing club and were selected based on both academic performance and essay compilation. University Prep Schools received more than 30 applications from across its STEAM district and culled the applications down to the allotted 25 seats.
“We could not be more thrilled to be able to offer this program in partnership with University Prep Schools,” said Commodore Frederick Carr of the Detroit Yacht Club. “As one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious boating clubs, we have always offered our members a robust sailing program. To be able to share that opportunity with students who have a demonstrated interest in the sport and help further their learning in a meaningful way, is truly awesome.” Carr, once an educator himself, went on to note the importance of the science behind sailing and how he believes the sport can add practical, real-life value to learning beyond the classroom. 
The collaboration with Detroit Yacht Club’s Junior Sailing Program will afford UPSM students the opportunity to participate for at least the next five summers. While the anonymous donation will help to fund the startup costs associated with the program, the school system is still in need of donations to not only cover the costs associated with equipment, life jackets and materials for the students, but to ensure the longevity of the partnership.
“We couldn’t be more grateful to the Detroit Yacht Club and our generous donor for making this program a reality,” said Margaret Trimer-Hartley, Chief External Relations Officer at University Prep Schools. “When people realize the importance of education and how much the little things can change a child’s life, everyone benefits. Sailing is a fun way to infuse rigorous STEM content into an extracurricular activity and demonstrate a practical application of math and science. Such real world connections make learning more powerful, improve retention and stimulate a student's desire to learn more."
University Prep Schools has long been working to build its athletic offering for UPSM students. Its liberal arts-focused district, University Prep Academy (UPA) has established more competitive traditional sports teams for both male and female students. While UPSM has seen successes with its high school football team, the district is actively building more non-traditional sports programs. The sailing program is just one of the “college prep” sports that school leadership will add to its roster in the next academic year. Prior to building out the inaugural sailing club, University Prep Schools facilitated an exploratory stage to gauge parent support. UPSM parents were surveyed over the course of a month, and were largely supportive of the initiative. Results of the survey, however, indicated a few barriers to participating in the program including the ability to swim and transportation to and from the island. As a result, the school has engaged key community partners such as Safeway, which will provide transportation to and from the sailing class for participating UPSM students for the duration of the program. The Boll Family YMCA has also agreed to provide swim classes at minimal to no cost for the students accepted into the program. University Prep Schools and the Detroit Yacht Club will continue to seek support from the community to ensure the program’s continued growth.
To make a donation to the University Prep Schools sailing program, please visit the school’s recently launched Indiegogo page. For additional information about how to support the program, visit uprepschools.com/get-involved.
About University Prep Schools

Known as one of Detroit's longest-standing charter school systems,University Prep Schools (U Prep Schools) launched in 2000, with the opening of its first tuition-free public charter, University Prep Academy High School. Today, the University Prep Schools network is comprised of two districts, University Prep Academy (UPA) and University Prep Science & Math (UPSM), and seven campuses. Serving more than 3,000 students, the University Prep Schools system prepares students for the world around them through a unique combination of individualized and expeditionary learning models that extends education beyond the confines of the traditional classroom. The schools foster a holistic approach to learning that is rooted in providing its students access, opportunity and success. Follow University Prep Schools on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UniversityPrepSchools and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/UPrepSchools. For more information about University Prep schools, visit www.uprepschools.com.
About Detroit Yacht Club (DYC)
The Historic Detroit Yacht Club, founded in 1868, is one of the oldest private boating and social clubs in North America.  Dedicated to providing a variety of outstanding dining, social, recreational, and boating programs for members, families and guests, the DYC offers a wide range of elegant and casual dining options, full catering and event services, and various leisure, health and fitness and social amenities.  The club’s harbor facilities and service have been voted the ‘Best in Detroit’ and rank among the finest on the Great Lakes.  
Designed by noted architect George Mason and completed in 1922, the DYC clubhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and stands as one of the Midwest’s finest examples of Mediterranean Revival architecture. The clubhouse ranks as the largest yacht club structure in the United States and, presiding over the Detroit River just off of Belle Isle, is one of Detroit’s most distinguished buildings. 
For more information about the DYC, please call 313-824-1200 or visit www.dyc.com

Sandbox Party Joins with Michigan's Children and Focuses on Making Children's Issues Top Priorities

With a critical Michigan election season upon us, the Michigan Sandbox Party has joined forces with Michigan’s Children to raise awareness and make children and family issues top priorities in state political campaigns.
Michigan’s Children is the only statewide, multi-issue advocacy organization focused solely on public policy in the best interest of children, from cradle to career, and their families.  
Founded in 2010 as the action arm of Michigan’s early childhood community, the Sandbox Party – which will now become a project of Michigan’s Children – has expanded its advocacy to children of all ages with early childhood issues remaining an important focus.  The Sandbox Party has also redesigned its outreach and website at www.michigansandboxparty.org to an election-year focus in order to help generate excitement around children’s concerns and drive turnout in the upcoming primaries.
“Together, we are creating a powerful network to mobilize greater numbers of  constituents around the 2014 races and help educate voters about what’s at stake for children and families,” said Matt Gillard, President & CEO of Michigan’s Children.  This election year holds races for top jobs in Lansing and Washington D.C., including the Governor’s office, every House and Senate district in Michigan, U.S. Congressional and a pivotal U.S. Senate seat.
“Our goal is to engage more Michiganians, encourage them to learn about the candidates in their communities, get involved in the election process, and speak up for children’s issues, Gillard said.
“The Sandbox Party will add strength to Michigan’s Children’s already existing network of localized partners connected to programs that serve the state’s most challenged children and families – the same children and families impacted by the policy decisions made in Lansing and in Washington, D.C.,” he said.  “This expanded network of advocates throughout the state can fight for the best interests of children and hold candidates accountable for campaign promises made long after November. And that’s something we all believe is needed now more than ever.”
With its new election-focus, the Sandbox Party will first promote awareness around the August 5 primary.  Gillard said voting in primaries is notoriously low, often as low as 10 percent of registered voters, though in many districts primary elections will determine who is ultimately elected into public office.  To counter that, Gillard said it is important that voters understand where these primary candidates stand on issues that matter most to children and families. 
The new website will be an easy-to-use tool for individuals to understand the issues at play, the candidates, and how to get involved. Besides offering profiles of candidates and races, visitors to the redesigned michigansandboxparty.org website will be able to look up candidates running for office in their communities, a calendar of appearances by statewide and local candidates in their area, and a variety of other election-related news and information.
After the elections, the Sandbox Party website will transition to an outreach and engagement tool for Michigan’s Children’s networks to stay involved in public policy work by holding their elected officials accountable.

Editorial: Lawmakers need to finish work on grading teachers

Three years after the Legislature called for the creation of a statewide model for evaluating teachers and administrators, lawmakers are still a ways from realizing that goal. Crafting such a blueprint takes significant effort, but this is something the state needs to finish soon.

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Learning Network Provides $542,412 for Pre-Kindergarten in Kalamazoo

Children who live in the Kalamazoo Public Schools district will soon have better access to opportunities that will have them ready for kindergarten thanks to a major grant from The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo.
Kalamazoo County Ready 4s, in partnership with the Northside Committee, is receiving $542,412 for an early childhood initiative focusing on 3-year-olds and their families residing in the Northside and Douglas neighborhoods.
“We are confident that the work supported by this grant, with measurable impacts, will help change many lives,” says Amy Slancik, community investment officer for The Learning Network at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation
According to Tonia Smith, community advocate and co-chair of the Northside Committee, “Connecting with families from the beginning and building relationships will change families and the community. With these grant dollars, we are able to do more proactive work, instead of being reactive. I am so excited for these families, I can’t stop smiling.”
The Northside Committee/Kalamazoo County Ready 4s initiative will increase the number of children ready for kindergarten by providing high-quality developmental and educational opportunities. The grant will enable up to 60 3-year-olds to attend half or full-day pre-kindergarten; upgrade and equip facilities; provide transportation; and provide professional development for faculty and staff along with on-site teacher mentors. The grant will also provide additional resources for parenting programs.
Desired outcomes for the initiative include: Establish a minimum of two high-quality pre-kindergarten classrooms located in the Northside and Douglas neighborhoods and achieve and maintain high-quality standards in these classrooms. Teachers will effectively implement the adopted curriculum, using research-based, and best-practice instructional strategies in classroom management measured by fall and spring assessments.
The Learning Network of Greater Kalamazoo, funded by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, works to create and sustain a culture of learning at home, in school, at work and throughout the community. The vision is to ensure that all children in Kalamazoo County will be ready for school, ready for post-secondary education, ready for a career and ready for the world. Learn more at www.thelearningnetwork.org.

Reducing infant mortality goal of city initiative


A three-year project to reduce infant mortality launched Wednesday in Detroit, where more babies die before their first birthday than in any of the nation’s largest cities.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided funding for creation of the Detroit Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomes. The initiative is led by CityMatCH, a national organization of urban maternal/child health leaders. Local health and community leaders will form the Detroit Institute for Equity in Birth Outcomes with guidance from CityMatCH.

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$1.3M to help metro Detroit families with employment, debt


Detroit Local Initiatives Support Corp. and United Way for Southeastern Michigan announced that they have funded $1.3 million to eight sites within the Greater Detroit Centers for Working Families network that provide services to families facing unemployment or low incomes.

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YOUTH VOICE members leave Harriet Tubman Center after 80-mile walk for education to start YouthVoice

The youth members who were involved with the program YOUTH VOICE, a project of the Harriet Tubman Center, have started a new organization. Over 30 youth, with the support of adults, created YouthVoice AdultAllies (YVAA), an organization for young people fighting for educational justice and supported by adult allies. The organization will be a first of its kind with an infrastructure where only youth are paid staff in the organization.

“Now that we have our own organization,” said Trevon Stapleton, junior at Cody High School, recent President of YOUTH VOICE and a founder of YVAA. “we have 100% control over what we do and the ability to partner with all organizations we want. I think we are at our greatest potential because we decide how we address the School to Prison Pipeline and luckily we have adults supporting us.”

The founding members of YouthVoice AdultAllies recently organized and participated in an 80-mile walk from Detroit to Lansing to advocate for a modification of zero tolerance policies and alternatives to suspensions. Members in YVAA received national attention and through a partnership with the Director for the Department of Human Services Maura Corrigan and the Michigan Board of Education, YVAA leadership believes legislation will be introduced to modify zero tolerance and stop suspensions for minor offenses like truancy in the upcoming months.

Kyle Guerrant from The Michigan Department of Education says an over-reliance to suspend and expel students for non-violent behavior creates significant barriers to learning, and increases the likelihood of academic failure, and students dropping out of the educational system all together.

“The youth in YVAA have support from many community allies and we know legislation will be introduced soon so our plan is to continue working with Michigan leaders to ensure we reserve the 180-day expulsion for only the most serious offenses, support schools to create alternatives to suspensions like restorative practices, and stop suspensions for truancy and uniform violations,” says Kayla Mason, YVAA adult member.

To learn about upcoming meetings and how you can get involved, visit Facebook.com/YVxAA.

YouthVoice AdultAllies is an organization for young people fighting for educational justice and supported by adult allies. Visit www.YouthVoiceAdultAllies.org for more information. 

Teachers need more training and resources to teach to higher standards


As two leaders who don’t always agree on what “education reform” should look like in our state, it’s striking when we do agree – and agree strongly – on what makes most sense for Michigan students.

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Every school deserves a high-quality literacy program


A new study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation reports the very disturbing information that only 31 percent of all Michigan students and only 19 percent of low-income students are reading proficiently in fourth grade in 2013.

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Network aims to boost Michigan-produced food


A new network aims to connect farmers, food processors and food service directors as part of an effort to increase the amount of Michigan-produced food served in schools, hospitals and other institutions.

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GreatSchoolsDetroit.org serves as a resource to help Detroit parents make school choices

Navigating the education landscape in Detroit is a complex endeavor as parents and caregivers have hundreds of school options to consider in trying to find the best fit for their child’s education needs. GreatSchoolsDetroit.org, produced by Excellent Schools Detroit in partnership with GreatSchools, gives Detroit families the tools they need to make a quality school choice.
GreatSchools is the leading national source of school performance information for parents, reaching 52 million unique visitors and 50 percent of American families with children.
“The GreatSchoolsDetroit.org website is a collaboration of Excellent Schools Detroit’s localized Scorecard data and GreatSchools national ratings,” said Dan Varner, chief executive officer, Excellent Schools Detroit. “Not only will parents have the apples-to-apples comparison across a multitude of measures in our Scorecard, but they’ll also see how the local schools rate on a national scale through GreatSchools’ score.”
When visiting GreatSchoolsDetroit.org, users can view in-depth school profiles, read and write reviews of schools, compare schools across a multitude of measures and criteria and find schools near their community. The innovative site contains data from hundreds of Detroit schools, ranging from early childhood learning centers to public, charter, and private elementary and high schools.
“Excellent Schools Detroit’s in-depth knowledge of and data on Detroit education environments and their deep connections with schools, community groups and parent organizations provides the localized insights that parents need,” said Bill Jackson, chief executive officer, GreatSchools. “Excellent Schools Detroit is the ideal partner for GreatSchools, because both organizations are committed to bringing parents the robust information they need to make great school choices.”
GreatSchoolsDetroit.org is designed as a mobile-friendly site, for easy access from smartphones and tablets as well as computers.
Excellent Schools Detroit re-launched its Scorecard in August 2013 with in-depth, side-by-side comparison of Detroit schools along a multitude of measures, including academic performance, academic progress and school climate. The organization recommends parents and students select schools graded C+ or better because these schools will generally prepare students for success in college, career and community.
In 2013, GreatSchools began building partnerships with local community organizations and city groups to bring the best school information and tools to families. These partnerships combine the local knowledge and relationships of community partners with the national media and technology platform of GreatSchools. GreatSchools Detroit is the first new partnership to launch. 
About Excellent Schools Detroit
Excellent Schools Detroit was formed in 2010 by a coalition of philanthropic, education, community and civic leaders with an important mission: an excellent education for every Detroit child, from cradle to career, by 2020. To that end, Excellent Schools Detroit produces an annual Scorecard, which grades schools across a multitude of excellence measures, to help Detroit parents and community make an informed school choice. The organization convenes individuals and organizations across multiple sectors as the Detroit community collectively works to achieve excellence in education.
About GreatSchools
Founded in 1998, GreatSchools is a national nonpartisan nonprofit that helps millions of parents find great schools, support great learning, and guide their kids to great futures. The Webby award-winning website, GreatSchools.org, is the nation’s leading guide to preK-12 schools, with profiles of about 200,000 public, public charter, and private schools and more than one million ratings and reviews by parents, teachers, and students. In addition, GreatSchools offers thousands of articles, videos, and worksheets to help parents support their children’s learning. Last year, GreatSchools had 52 million unique visitors, including more than half of all U.S. families with school-age children. Headquartered in Oakland, California, GreatSchools has local programs and offices in Indianapolis, Milwaukee, and Washington, DC.

Infant mortality rate in Detroit rivals areas of Third World


Prematurity, whose deadly side effects include brain hemorrhages, collapsed lungs and failing organs, is the leading killer of Detroit’s babies. It’s the major component of infant mortality — a catch-all term comprising all conditions that claim children before their first birthday.

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Opting Out of Testing: A Rising Tide for States and Districts?


As states grapple with the huge task of building new testing regimens to reflect the common core, they are having to turn some of their attention to fending off a growing number of parents who want their children to skip the tests.

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Farm bill's new SNAP incentive: Don't celebrate just yet


Some local food advocates are applauding the new Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive program in the finally-passed farm bill. The idea is to provide cash incentives to participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aka food stamps) for healthy eating. But a closer look reveals the celebration may be premature at best.

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Unique Court Approach Aids Girls Most at Risk


Toni J., an effervescent 16-year-old who talks on speed-dial, lives with 11 family members in West Oakland, on a street buffeted by gang activity and poverty. Her mother died of an overdose, her father in a revenge shooting. In ninth grade, she was raped while on probation for shoplifting.

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The Boggs School in Sounds and Pictures


Christopher Gaston is usually the first kid to arrive at school every morning.  And he’s almost always the last one to leave at night. 

In fact, “It’s tough to get Christopher to leave the building everyday,” says Marisol Teachworth, the Boggs School’s program director and co-founder.

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Incentivizing Good Attendance


School day wake-up calls recorded by celebrities. Weekend makeup classes. Contests with laptop computers, private concerts and cars as prizes.

Educators across the nation are using creative strategies as another school year gets under way to convince students and parents that regular attendance matters — and not just for grades and achievement.

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'A clean, well-lighted place' for Detroit kids to go after school


I don't know about you, but when I was in school, hearing the school bell ring at the end of the day meant one thing: freedom! Time to go home, get a snack, and hang out with friends.

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Tech & Opportunity: can all kids be "digital natives?"


New technologies are also bringing new anxieties for parents. What is all this screen time doing to children's development? Assuming that just because a baby picks up an iPad or locks you out of your password-protected phone seems for some to be proof that anyone younger is a "digital native" and inherently able to program a DVR.

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Three reasons why paid paternity leave should be more common


For the past four weeks, I haven't been much help to my coworkers here at State of Opportunity. I've been unresponsive to emails. I've contributed nothing to the website. I haven't turned in any stories for radio. I haven't even thought about it. And yet, crazy as it sounds, I've been paid the whole time. 

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How The Arts Can Help Students Excel


Many people disregard the importance of the arts in education.  Sure, the arts are good for blowing off steam and encouraging creativity, but are they useful in the real world?  If a student doesn’t have the capabilities of being the next Beethoven or da Vinci, what is the point of wasting resources on their continued arts education?

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40-year shadow cast by Detroit's failed busing plan


Next week marks the 40th anniversary of the day the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case about busing and segregation in Detroit’s schools. The case eventually became Milliken v. Bradley, a seminal civil rights case that nevertheless few people outside legal circles remember.

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Youth Seeking Safe Places Can Get Support Through New Website

Runaway and street-active youth looking for safe places for food, shelter and support are now able to find this information in one place: www.rhyregionalalliance.org. The new website is sponsored by the Runaway & Homeless Youth Regional Alliance (RHY) and highlights services offered by four agencies in southeast Michigan, including Alternatives for Girls, Common Ground, Ruth Ellis Center and Starfish Family Services.
The statistics surrounding runaway and homeless youth are staggering. Nationally, between 1.6 and 2.8 million youth run away each year. In 2012, 25 percent of children in Michigan lived below the federal poverty level. In Detroit alone, it is estimated that up to 1,000 homeless LGBTQ youth are on the streets each night.
“The RHY Regional Alliance was formed so we are better able to assist youth who feel they have no where else to turn. The website details where they can go for help whether in a crisis situation or not,” said Michele Legleitner, program director, RHY Regional Alliance and executive director, Alternatives for Girls. “Our ultimate goal is to eliminate homelessness among those 18 and under.”
“This new website is designed to be mobile-friendly and works on a smartphone the same way it does on a desktop, because we know mobile is the primary way youth will access it,” Legleitner said.
Launched November 1 in conjunction with National Homeless Youth Awareness Month, the website details services offered by each of the four agencies along with maps and contact information. The agencies assist youth with a variety of services, including short- and long-term housing, counseling, peer groups, educational assistance, job training and more.
For more information, visit www.rhyregionalalliance.org or email info@rhyregionalalliance.org
About the Runaway & Homeless Youth Regional Alliance
Runaway & Homeless Youth Regional Alliance is a collaborative effort of four non-profit agencies in southeast Michigan:  Alternatives for Girls, Common Ground, Ruth Ellis Center and Starfish Family Services. The RHY Regional Alliance is dedicated to providing safe places where youth can get food, shelter and short- and long-term support to help them become self-sufficient and live independently. The Alliance is funded by United Way of Southeast Michigan. For more information, visit www.rhyregionalalliance.org.

Reviving Detroit: 4 Arenas Where Nonprofits Can Act to Design a New Future


The classic action-comedy Beverly Hills Cop was showing on TV this past week. In it, Eddie Murphy plays a Detroit police detective who follows a murder suspect to the West Coast. The opening 10 or 15 minutes includes a chase scene through Detroit. The city is full of vacant buildings and land—and the 1984 film showed a better-looking Detroit than you’ll find today. Axel Foley’s Detroit declared bankruptcy late last week—the largest city ever to do so—ending a fall decades in the making.

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Cuts in food assistance start today, impacting vulnerable children nationwide


Beginning today, nearly 47 million people, including 22 million children nationwide, will see their food assistance benefits cut, when a temporary boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) expires.

The reduction stems from the fact that a modest boost in benefits included in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has now ended. While SNAP enrollment growth has slowed this year, national enrollment remains high because many families continue to face a job market that remains weak and other hardships resulting from a slow economic recovery.

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How Are The Children? A Dialogue for Families

There are more than 487,000 children under the age of 18 currently living in Wayne County. More than half of these children live in families with incomes below the Federal Poverty Level. This is one of many startling statistics that Great Start Collaborative shared with the public in their April 2013 children’s wellbeing report titled, “How Are the Children.”

The reality is clear, that children living within Wayne county and the entire state of Michigan, need the support of community organizations, their own families, educational & political systems, and advocacy organizations and community members alike, if they are to overcome the challenges that accompany poverty.

To this end, The Children’s Center, Wayne County Great Start Collaborative, Michigan’s Children, and the Michigan League for Public Policy are coming together to facilitate a community discussion entitled, “How are the Children:” A Dialogue for Families. In addition to hearing from four Child Policy experts, participants will be encouraged to voice their concerns regarding collaborative solutions to addressing the many issues that accompany poverty, children experiencing trauma and behavioral health challenges, disparities in healthcare, education, and other concerns.

“How Are the Children:” A Dialogue for Families will be held at the Children’s Center Head Start Academy at 19900 Evergreen Rd. in Detroit on October 17th, from 6-7:30 PM. The dialogue will feature the following presenters:
  • Dr. Carolynn Rowland; City of Detroit -- Dept. of Health and Wellness Promotion
  • Renell Weathers; Michigan League for Public Policy -- State Budget Priorities & Children’s Issues
  • Mina Hong; Michigan’s Children -- Engaging in the Elections Process
  • Nicole Wells Stallworth; The Children’s Center -- Engaging Community & Elected Leaders
    toward Making a Difference.
A large part of our mission at The Children's Center is to help families learn how to advocate for themselves. We are excited about this important collaborative work with the Wayne County Great Start Collaborative led by Toni Hartke, The Michigan League for Public Policy, and Michigan’s Children who have been in the trenches of working with communities and families on behalf of what’s in the best interests of children”, explained Debora Matthews, Children's Center CEO.

Parents, families, city residents, senior citizens, educators, and child advocates are encouraged to attend and learn more about how we can collaboratively improve the quality of life for children living within our region. We believe every child should be offered the opportunity to reach their fullest potential”, added Nicole Wells Stallworth, Director of Community Engagement & Government Affairs at The Children’s Center.

For questions, contact Nicole Wells Stallworth at nwells@childrensctr.net OR Susan Hooks-Brown, Wayne County Great Start Collaborative Community Organizer at shooks-brown@swsol.org

Join the discussion on Twitter! hashtag #HowAreTheChildren

About The Children’s Center
Founded in 1929 by former Detroit Mayor and United States Senator James Couzens as one of the first child guidance centers in the United States, The Children’s Center has grown to be the Michigan child and family agency offering the largest number of specialized therapy programs for at-risk children and youth.

To learn more about The Children’s Center, visit: www.thechildrenscenter.com.

About Great Start
Great Start Collaborative-Wayne is a non-profit organization comprised of over 60 community organizations and individuals whose vision is A Great Start for Every Child in Wayne County, safe, healthy, and ready to succeed in school and life.

Their mission is to engage the entire community to assure a coordinated system of services and resources are available to assist Wayne County families in providing a great start for their children from prenatal to age 8. 

Lake County's "promise" to make college affordable for low-income families


College is expensive. For some families, it’s prohibitively expensive. Several school districts are trying to follow the Kalamazoo Promise model by offering students money to help cover tuition costs, including one such "promise" in rural northern Michigan's Lake County.

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Summer + Mittenfest = S'Mittenfest!

Over the last seven years, Ypsilanti’s end-of-year music festival Mittenfest has grown into a five-day extravaganza of Michigan-based artists. Held at Woodruff’s Bar in Depot Town, Ypsilanti, Mittenfest has seen performances by acts like Frontier Ruckus, Shigeto, and Passalacqua as well as dozens of up-and-coming performers. The festival is a fundraiser for 826michigan, a Washtenaw County-based organization providing free creative writing and tutoring services to students aged 6-18. To celebrate 826michigan’s recent expansion into Detroit, the nonprofit will hold a summer version of Mittenfest at the Magic Stick on July 20.
S’Mittenfest (Summer + Mittenfest) will feature twenty-one acts including Drunken Barn Dance, Santa Monica Swim and Dive Club, and Young Punk. It will be held on Saturday, July 20, at Detroit’s legendary Magic Stick. Admission is $10 and available only at the door; proceeds benefit 826michigan’s free programs for students aged 6-18.
Established in Ann Arbor in 2005, 826michigan serves 2,500 youth aged 6-18 with a wide variety of educational and artistic programs. In October 2012, the organization announced that it would launch programs in Detroit, thanks to a launching grant from the DTE Energy Foundation. 826michigan now serves three Detroit schools with In-School Residencies, in which volunteers are organized on a continual basis to assist teachers in overcrowded classrooms and work one-on-one with students who need extra attention. This summer, 826michigan will offer free creative writing workshops in Clark Park, at the Franklin Wright Settlements, and at the Campbell Branch of the Detroit Public Library.
“Expanding to Detroit was a dream of ours for a very long time,” says 826michigan Executive Director Amanda Uhle. “And now it’s happening. Every week, we’re reaching forty-five Detroit students with one-on-one attention and support provided by caring volunteers, and that number is set to go up dramatically this summer as we begin to offer Drop-in Writing times at three locations in the city.
“For us, the truly great thing about Mittenfest is getting to celebrate with the people of Ypsilanti, where we’ve worked since we first began. We’re proud to call ourselves part of the Ypsilanti community. We know we are new in Detroit, but we’re committed to our work there and to building more and better partnerships with other nonprofits, schools, businesses, and individuals. S’Mittenfest is a party and we are inviting the people of Detroit, who have already shown us an incredibly warm welcome. We can’t wait to celebrate Michigan music and Michigan people on July 20!”
For more information about 826michigan and its volunteer-driven programs serving 2,500 youth in Southeast Michigan, please visit www.826michigan.org or call (734) 761-3463. To learn more about S’Mittenfest, please visit www.mittenfest.org.
The full line-up includes:
The Anonymous
Breezee One
The Campanellis
Caveman Woodman
Clear Soul Forces
Jah Connery
Deadbeat Beat
Drunken barn dance
In Fact
James Linck
The Kickstand Band
Pewter Cub
Red Pill
Santa Monica Swim & Dive Club
Silent Lions
Timothy Monger State Park
Twine Time
The Hand in the Ocean
Young Punk
826michigan is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students aged six to eighteen with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around our belief that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.  For more information, visit www.826michigan.org.

Riding the bus in hopes of a better education


"School is almost out for summer! For some students, that means camp. For others, it means time to get a job. For the three high school sophomores you’re about to meet, it means a break - not just from school, but from riding the bus.

'Every day, the girls leave their homes in the struggling Detroit neighborhood of Brightmoor and hop on two city buses and one yellow bus to get to New Tech High School in Dearborn Heights. Their names are Shaqueria (Shay) Harris-Bay, Navia Daniel and Tanesha George, and they captured their morning trip in an audio diary for our State of Opportunity project."

Read more and listen to the podcast.

What does a truly diverse high school sound like?


A few weeks ago I took the State of Opportunity storytelling booth to J.W. Sexton High School in Lansing. 

The school is a sand-colored art deco masterpiece. There are three floors, intricate stone work inside and out, and an auditorium that could easily host a symphony from any of Michigan's large cities along with its audience.

Click to hear the full story

Go Here: Excellent Schools Detroit Releases Citywide List of Top 20 K-12 Schools

Excellent Schools Detroit today released its list of the top-performing kindergarten through eighth-grade schools, recommending parents send their children to these schools this coming school year. Excellent Schools Detroit also released the eight schools at the bottom of the barrel that parents should avoid. These rankings are based only on this year’s and year- over-year performance on the Michigan standardized test, the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP).

School leaders from 181 Detroit schools opted into Excellent Schools Detroit’s school quality review this year, including all of Detroit Public Schools, all Education Achievement Authority schools, 56 charters and 15 private and parochial schools. As that additional data is gathered from the school quality review, both the top and bottom lists will be updated.

To determine these rankings, Excellent Schools Detroit reviewed this year’s MEAP performance and year over year MEAP performance of 126 kindergarten through eighth-grade schools. The 31 new or turnaround kindergarten through eighth-grade schools in Detroit were not included in the analysis, as the study considered performance changes over time. Excellent Schools Detroit will release similar results for high school performance later this spring.

“In order for the education of our children to move forward in Detroit, we need to leave some schools behind. If your child is in one of these bottom eight schools, you should move them to one of the top 20,” said Dan Varner, CEO of Excellent Schools Detroit. “Excellent Schools Detroit is committed to keeping our community informed about the quality of Detroit’s schools so that more kids go to better schools.”

Detroiters should note that this year 88% of Detroit’s kindergarten through eighth-grade schools schools showed improvement from last year. Twelve of the top performers are operated by DPS, seven are charter schools and one private school are amongst the top performers. Thirkell Elementary School, a general admission DPS school, was the top performer, citywide. All of these schools also participated in Excellent Schools Detroit’s school quality review process.

"Our young people are the future and we want them to attend the highest quality schools," said Tonya Allen, COO of The Skillman Foundation. "Central to this is making sure that our neighborhoods are thriving and full of great educational opportunities like those found in the top 20 list for kindergarten-through-eighth-grades released by Excellent Schools Detroit." Allen will become CEO of The Skillman Foundation in July.

Sharlonda Buckman, CEO of Detroit Parent Network agrees, stating “parents deserve transparency in the great or poor performance of schools as they make one of the most important decisions they are faced with each year: "where do I send my kids to school"? The Excellent Schools Detroit scorecard provides a tool to help parents in the process; however, as we lift up the best performing schools, we recognize that for some parents, these high- performing schools are a distant dream because transportation and safety issues remain a barrier.”

Buckman also states “The scorecard is a great start and simultaneous to this, we must ask more of the collective community to continue the fight for more high quality schools and eliminate the barriers that cripple real choice.”

Go here: Top 20 best-performing K-8 schools in Detroit

Central Detroit
-  Thirkell Elementary School
-  Davison Elementary School

-  Detroit Edison Public School Academy
-  University Prep Academy Middle School
-  University Prep Academy Elementary Mark Murray
-  University Prep Science and Math
-  Burton International School
-  Chrysler Elementary School
-  Detroit Merit Charter Academy

East Detroit
- Garvey Academy

Northeast Detroit
-  Oakland International Academy K-8
-  Cornerstone Nevada Primary and Middle School

Northwest Detroit
-  Pasteur Elementary School
-  Vernor Elementary School
-  Bates Academy

Southwest Detroit
-  Clippert Academy
-  Maybury Elementary School

West Detroit
-  Detroit Premier Academy
-  Charles Wright School
-  Dixon Elementary School

“The Detroit community needs to know which schools are not delivering good results for our children,” said Varner. “Parents and guardians with children in any of the bottom schools should plan to send their kids somewhere else next school year.” Varner recommends those parents consider any of the schools on the top 20 list.

Don’t go here: Eight worst-performing K-8 schools in Detroit

Central Detroit
- Allen Academy

- Voyageur Academy

East Detroit
-  Detroit Enterprise Academy
-  Commonwealth Community Development Authority

Southwest Detroit
-  Universal Academy
-  Pierre Toussaint Academy

West Detroit
-  Center for Literacy and Creativity
-  Michigan Technical Academy Elementary

In July, Excellent Schools Detroit will release its 2013 scorecard, ranking all schools attended by Detroit children, including early learning and development programs, kindergarten through eighth-grades and high schools. All schools graded as an “A” will meet the Excellent Schools Detroit standard of an excellent school: one that has 90% of its students on track to graduate on time, 90% of those students attending a quality post-secondary program and 90% of those entering that program without any need for remediation.

Excellent Schools Detroit cultivates the conditions to ensure that every Detroit child, cradle to career, is in an excellent school by 2020. Excellent Schools Detroit was formed in 2010 by partners from philanthropic, civic, business, nonprofit and education organizations. More information can be found at excellentschoolsdetroit.org. Last year’s scorecard is available at scorecard.excellentschoolsdetroit.org

Michigan's 13,000 'redshirt' kindergartners


Kindergarten classes in Escanaba and Dearborn are quite similar, with 5-year-olds wiggling in their chairs and brightly-colored artwork lining the walls. But when children walked out of those classrooms in the spring of 2011, they faced different futures.

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Michigan, DPS make gains in graduation rates


"Michigan and the state's largest school district, Detroit Public Schools, recorded gains last year in the percentage of students graduating within four years, according to data released Wednesday.

'Statewide, graduation rates rose nearly 2 percentage points last year to 76.2 percent in Michigan's four-year high schools in the numbers issued by the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information.

'DPS gained even more, hiking its graduation rate for 2012 to 64.7 percent from 59.7 percent in 2011."

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USDA grant to help ramp up local foods in school districts

The Michigan Land Use Institute has long been a big backer of the idea that local food should be served in local schools. It seems that the USDA agrees with the organization, as they just gave them a two-year, $100,000 grand to help expand the local Farm to School program.

The grant allows MLUI to partner with eight local districts and area farmers to invest in cold storage and processing equipment to scale up local food procurement by the schools. It also allows MLUI to expand the farm to school activities that it currently operates in six schools.

The grant is going to make it easier for local schools to serve fruits and vegetables that are produced by local farmer across northern Michigan. The result will help local agriculture while teaching kids the importance of local food and healthy eating habits.

Additionally, food service directors have identified a need for washed, dried and bagged salad greens and cut vegetables, but the many farms in the region that typically grow vegetables don’t have the capacity or infrastructure to meet the needs of the region’s schools. The grant will help secure new, centrally located equipment for commercial-scale preparation, making it possible and more cost-effective for growers to scale up vegetable production to benefit schools.

The MLUI grant is one of 68 awarded by the USDA to organizations in 37 states and Washington, D.C., to connect schools with local agricultural producers. These are the first USDA Farm to School grants.

Writer: Sam Eggleston
Source: Michigan Land Use Institute

Five things to know about early childhood brain development

"There has been an explosion of research over the past decade that shows how important the first few years of a child’s life are in terms of brain development. To help us make sense of how those early experience can shape a child’s brain, we called up Dr. Jack Shonkoff, director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University."

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U-M researchers to study 'food security' across Michigan

"Researchers at the School of Natural Resources and Environment are leading a five-year, $4 million study of disparities in access to healthy food across the state.

'The researchers will interview residents and study data in 18 small to mid-sized cities to better understand the factors affecting 'food security,' a socioeconomic term that defines easy access to safe and healthy food."

Read more.

ACLU attorneys, state agree to Dec. 5. hearing in Right to Read lawsuit

"The ACLU of Michigan has until Dec. 5 to investigate whether the Highland Park School District is complying with a state law that requires individual intervention for students who aren’t reading at grade level.

'It’s part of a groundbreaking, class action “Right to Read” lawsuit the ACLU of Michigan has filed against the district and state."

Read more.

YMCA charter school stresses leadership and innovation

"Jataya is among the first students at a new K-5 charter school, Detroit Innovation Academy, opened last month by the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit through its Y Education Services charter management organization.

'Acclimating kindergarteners to technology is part of the curriculum, along with the expectation that each of the 153 students will graduate and attend college."

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Making the case for early childhood education

"There is a big push to get kids 'kindergarten ready,' with an emphasis on the importance of preschool.

'But some experts say waiting until preschool is too late.

'Researcher Craig T. Ramey has spent his entire academic life studying programs that impact vulnerable children, and he says 'far and away early childhood education is the most powerful instrument we have to prepare people to lead productive lives.' And by 'early' he means starting at birth."

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Death To Education Reform

"Everyone loves education reform. President Obama loves it. Governor Romney loves it.

'The problem is that education reform as we currently understand it is, well, terrible.

'The debate is basically structured around how to structure teacher incentives so that they will get better results. Ten years ago, this was about linking pay to test scores, it was the era of No Child Left Behind, now remembered as insidious right-wing skullduggery even though the law was co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy. Now it appears that if you pay teachers to teach to the test they will do that, and further that this is too crude a metric because pupil progress is also affected by his environment, and how do you even define 'results', and so on. So now we’re talking about how to build a better model to get teachers to do their work better."

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Bright spots on the educational landscape

Michael Khoury, President of Detroit Cristo Rey High School, discusses the state of education in the city of Detroit and the role schools like Detroit Cristo Rey will play in the city's academic future.

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Let's Connect! WCHAP

Throughout the nation, Michigan, and particularly in Detroit, Medicaid-enrolled children consistently have poorer health outcomes than children with private insurance. Families and service providers encounter a frustrating, fragmented system of multiple programs and barriers that impede access to health and mental health services for children. Quality, coordinated, preventative care through a medical home has shown to improve health outcomes and lower healthcare costs by reducing emergency room usage and unnecessary hospitalizations. The Wayne Children’s Healthcare Access Program (WCHAP) is part of this national movement to improve the quality of healthcare by assuring that all children have a family centered medical home.

The Children’s Healthcare Access Program (CHAP) is a children’s medical home implementation model that targets Medicaid-enrolled children to advance healthcare quality and coordinate services among health providers, health plans and multiple community partners. WCHAP is an independent, physician- led, pilot program that was recently awarded a three-year $1.5 million grant from The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) in Battle Creek, Mich. With initial funding from the Kresge Foundation of Troy, Mich., the WCHAP pilot began in February 2011 as a public–private collaborative and is currently comprised of seven pediatric practices – including Michigan’s largest hospital for children and the largest Federally Qualified Health Clinic – as well as three Medicaid health plans, and multiple local and state community partners.

“We are deeply appreciative of the Kellogg Foundation’s investment in our vision and work to strengthen partnerships between families, health, mental health education and social services in order to improve the health and well-being of our children.” said Jametta Lilly, CEO of WCHAP. “WCHAP uniquely works as a change agent by empowering families, supporting quality improvement and innovation with pediatric practices and advancing systems change with multiple partners to help resolve fragmentation and inefficiencies.”

Medical home models, like CHAP, are an approach that transforms primary care practices to be more accessible, continuous, comprehensive, family-centered, coordinated, compassionate, and culturally effective. WCHAP is the second CHAP model being implemented in the state. WCHAP builds on the successes of the CHAP in Kent County, Mich., which has demonstrated significant reductions in emergency room use and unnecessary hospitalizations while reducing healthcare costs. Kent and Wayne CHAP are leaders in the Michigan CHAP (MI-CHAP) collaborative, which includes eight additional communities interested in dramatically improving the health of vulnerable children throughout Michigan.

With WKKF support, WCHAP will expand its services to an additional 4,000 Detroit children from birth through age 21 and will engage additional pediatric practices to impact some 40,000 children. The WKKF investment will also strengthen WCHAP’s efforts in its specialty areas, several which address top health disparities among children in Detroit, including:
  • Expanding its asthma case management team;
  • Implementing Fit Kids 360, an evidence-based obesity reduction model;
  • Strengthening coordination and transitions between maternal and child health providers to improve
    birth and infant health outcomes;
  • Increasing coordination and integration between physical and behavioral/mental health; and
  • Bolstering the Innovation and Incentives Program to assist pediatric practices in meeting medical
    home standards.
“The Kellogg Foundation believes that every child in Detroit should receive high quality health care,” said Linda Jo Doctor, program officer for WKKF. “The advancement of family centered medical homes is a key strategy to achieve this because we know that medical homes help reduce health inequities and promote child and family well-being.”
Please contact WCHAP to hear family and pediatric voices engaged in advancing family centered medical home to improve child health and wellness in Detroit and Wayne County.

About the Wayne Children’s Healthcare Access Program (WCHAP)
WCHAP is an independent, physician led, public-private community health collaborative. The Children’s Healthcare Access Program, CHAP, is a proven medical home implementation model built on the successes of Kent CHAP in Grand Rapids, Mich; and is specifically tailored to improve health outcomes for vulnerable children and families enrolled in Medicaid. CHAP helps transform pediatric primary care practices to become more accessible, continuous, comprehensive, family centered,
coordinated, compassionate, and culturally effective. WCHAP works to improve quality, access and child health outcomes; strengthen provider, family and community partnerships; and reduce costs and advance systems change. For more information, visit www.wchap.org and the America Academy of Pediatrics at www.aap.org.

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org. 

A Right to Read

The ACLU of Michigan has filed a "right to read" lawsuit on behalf of the over 970 students in the Hazel Park school district, a district in which 90 percent of the students, by eleventh grade, are not reading proficient and 100 percent are failing science and social studies. Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of Michigan, explains the lawsuit.

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Cooking and the Community: It Matters

Detroit area food bloggers participate in the Gleaners Community Food Bank class "Cooking Matters" and learn more about the program and its importance within the community.

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Lou Glazer: Smart, young workers are vital

"We all want a high prosperity Michigan. A place, once again, with a broad middle class. It was a status we enjoyed for most of the 20th century, but now have lost.

'How to get there? Gov. Rick Snyder in his Special Message to the Legislature on Talent provided the answer: 'In the 20th century, the most valuable assets to job creators were financial and material capital. In a changing global economy, that is no longer the case. Today, talent has surpassed other resources as the driver of economic growth'..."

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Welcoming the newest class of Michigan Teaching Fellows to high-needs schools

A fighter pilot, a pastor, a sea kayak instructor and many other extraordinary individuals are among the 2012 cohort of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship announced at the Michigan State Capitol.

Read more.

Businesses right to invest in early ed

This year at the Annual Mackinac Policy Conference held every May, one of the sessions highlighted the case for businesses investing in early education. Business leaders throughout the state are taking an interest in this because they know that their future also suffers if children enter school unprepared and struggle for the rest of their academic career. As it stands, one in three children in Michigan enters kindergarten unprepared. 

Read more

Americans overwhelmingly support doubling food stamp value at farmers markets

Three-quarters of Americans support a nationwide program to double the value of SNAP benefits (formerly food stamps) when used at farmers markets, according to a recent survey commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The poll finds strong support for making produce affordable and accessible to all Americans and that officials at all levels—national, state and local—have a role to play in ensuring that access.

“Americans want produce that is healthy, affordable, green and fair,” said Dr. Gail Christopher, vice president – program strategy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “We see strong support here for food that is good not only for the people eating it, but also for the people producing it.”

The survey was released today at the foundation’s Food & Community Conference, a gathering of more than 600 active participants in the good food movement, including farmers, school food workers, academics, urban agriculture pioneers, filmmakers, health activists, writers and more.

In the poll, 68 percent of those surveyed said it was “very important” that all Americans have equal access to fresh fruits and vegetables; an additional 25 percent said it is “somewhat important.”

Michigan’s Double Up Food Bucks has worked successfully to increase access to fresh produce among low-income families by doubling the value of SNAP benefits at farmers markets. Seventy-five percent of poll participants said they support a similar program at the national level as a way to help American produce farmers and low-income families.

Strong support for farmworkers and local growers
Respondents also showed support for those harvesting their produce. Asked if they would be willing to pay $1.50 more for produce each month to ensure fair wages are paid to those picking fruits and vegetables, 88 percent strongly or partly agreed. A study by the Economic Policy Institute said such a raise would increase the pay of a farm worker making $10,000 a year to $14,000, which would be above the poverty line.

Americans also stand behind their local growers. More than 80 percent strongly or partly agreed that Washington, D.C. should shift its support toward smaller, local fruit and vegetable farmers and away from large farm businesses. Nearly 90 percent strongly or partly agreed they would pay more for produce if that money stayed in the community.

Officials have a role in ensuring access to fresh produce
Those surveyed said national, state and local officials, as well as community members, have a role to play in ensuring that people have access to local, fresh produce:
  • *81 percent strongly or partly agree that Washington, DC, needs to do more to increase access to locally produced fruits and vegetables.
  • *86 percent strongly or partly agree that state and local officials should play a role in ensuring access to local, fresh food.
  • *89 percent strongly or partly agree that the community needs to play a role in ensuring access to local, fresh food.
Moreover, people are putting both money and time into supporting local, fresh produce. Seventy percent reported shopping at farmers markets in the past year, while 45 percent said they’d gotten food from their own garden or farm. Sixty-eight percent said they eat more fresh produce than they did five years ago.

“Americans are telling us they support a values-based food system,” Dr. Christopher said.

“They favor locally grown and produced food, community involvement, sustainability and fairness, which helps to ensure safe, healthy and affordable food for everyone.”

The survey was conducted by Lauer Johnson Research of 800 adults using mobile or landline phones from April 18–22, 2012. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

The full poll and results are available at www.foodandcommunity.org/conference. You can also follow WKKF on twitter at @wk_kellogg_fdn.

Study: If Detroit child is ready for kindergarten, Michigan saves $100,000 a year

According to Detroit's One-Child School Readiness Dividend - a study commissioned by the Max M. Marjorie S. Fisher Family Foundation and conducted by Minnesota-based Wilder Research - if each child entering kindergarten in Detroit were there ready to learn there would be an estimated savings of $100,000 per child each year ... or roughly $7.2 million each year in lifetime education, social services and criminal justice expenditures.

Read more.

Grantee Excellent Schools Detroit honored at Game Changers event

W.K. Kellogg Foundation grantee, Excellent Schools Detroit – a true champion for education -  is the 2012 recipient of Playworks Detroit’s Game Changers Inclusion Award presented on March 21, 2012 at the “Get in The Game” luncheon.

A coalition of education, government, community, parent and nonprofit leaders, Excellent Schools Detroit has developed a citywide education plan to help ensure that all Detroit children are in an excellent school by 2020. Its goal is to see 90 percent of the city's students graduating from high school, 90 percent of them going on to college or quality career training and 90 percent of them being ready to succeed at college or career training without needing remedial education.

The Playworks Detroit 2012 “Get in the Game” luncheon and “Game Changer Awards” were created to recognize individuals, companies and organizations that are making a positive impact on the well-being of Detroit.

Join us in congratulating Excellent Schools Detroit and the other award winners making a difference.

To learn more about Excellent School Detroit, visit www.excellentschoolsdetroit.org.  More information about Playworks Detroit can be found at http://www.playworks.org

USDA award recognizes success of Fair Food Network’s farmers market incentive program

In recognition of Fair Food Network’s (FFN) successful Double Up Food Bucks program at Michigan farmers markets, U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Audrey Rowe visited FFN in Ann Arbor on April 3 to present the W.K. Kellogg Foundation grantee with a USDA Certificate of Appreciation for its efforts in supporting farmers markets and ensuring access to fresh, healthy and local food.

Double Up Food Bucks is an incentive program that doubles the value of SNAP dollars (previously called food stamps) when consumers use them to buy fresh produce at Michigan farmers markets. 

“All of us at Fair Food Network are pleased and proud to receive this recognition from the USDA,” said Oran Hesterman, president and CEO, Fair Food Network. “I know that the success of the Double Up Food Bucks program in Michigan is due to the tremendous support we receive – from generous funders, farmers market managers and the farmers who actually put the program into practice. It is simply an idea whose time has come.”

Double Up Food Bucks has proven a win-win for both low-income and farming families in Michigan by increasing access to healthy food and profits for those who market it. SNAP sales at Michigan farmers markets grew from $16,000 in 2007 to $1.1 million in 2011, stimulated in large part by the impact of the Double Up Food Bucks program.  At $1.1 million, Michigan led the Midwest in SNAP sales, followed by Ohio at just over $167,000 and Wisconsin at $77,000.  
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