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A new voice at State of Opportunity

I've lived in Michigan for five years, reporting on public health, urban life and community development for the Detroit Free Press. Those five years happen to have been some of the state's worst, economically and spiritually.

Yet, despite all the frustrations, fears and anger I've written about, I've also witnessed plenty of joy and determination. Much of that optimism and forward thinking has come from the hundreds of children I've met over the years, whether at urban gardens in Detroit's most disinvested neighborhoods, or at robotics competitions between students who see science and technology as their way to the top.

State of Opportunity is a program about closing the gaps between Michigan's poorest and richest children, with the underlying idea that this state can only prosper again if the children we bring into the world have every possible chance to succeed. Education, healthcare, nutrition, and parental involvement are one end of the spectrum. The public policy that underlies all those worlds are the other.

As a member of the State of Opportunity team this summer, I want to investigate how disadvantaged children live when school ends for the summer – how they learn, how they eat, and how they survive during the summer between academic years. I will look at public policy and non-profit efforts that defines children outside the school yard, and examine how those policies actually work at the ground level.

Things I'm interested in:

What do children do during the summer?

What kind of programming is available in your community?

Who does it serve?

Does it serve them well?

Are parents satisfied with what their kids are doing, learning and experiencing between June and September?

To that end, I want to hear from you. Who is doing what in your neighborhood to ensure that kids have a safe and nurturing summer? What programs work? What programs could flourish, if only one or two things were different? What doesn't exist in the infrastructure of summer life that should?

My email is meghas@umich.edu. Drop me a line. Tell me about your summer.