Intergenerational Poverty

How poverty changes the brain, By Tara García Mathewson, April 19, 2017, The Atlantic: “You saw the pictures in science class—a profile view of the human brain, sectioned by function. The piece at the very front, right behind where a forehead would be if the brain were actually in someone’s head, is the pre-frontal cortex. It handles problem-solving, goal-setting, and task execution. And it works with the limbic system, which is connected and sits closer to the center of the brain. The limbic system processes emotions and triggers emotional responses, in part because of its storage of long-term memory. When a person lives in poverty, a growing body of research suggests the limbic system is constantly sending fear and stress messages to the prefrontal cortex, which overloads its ability to solve problems, set goals, and complete tasks in the most efficient ways…”

High School Graduation Rates

  • Minnesota high school graduation rates show narrowing achievement gap, By Beena Raghavendran and Beatrice Dupuy, February 24, 2017, Star Tribune: “Graduation rates for black students at Minnesota high schools rose 3 percentage points in 2016, a sign of progress in narrowing the achievement gap between white students and students of color, according to data released Thursday by the state Department of Education.  While the black students’ gains were most pronounced, the graduation rate for all students also continued along a slow upward trend. Across Minnesota, 82.2 percent of last year’s senior class graduated within four years — the highest overall rate recorded by the department…”
  • How Boston achieved its record high school graduation rate, By Josh Kenworthy, March 3, 2017, Christian Science Monitor: “Dante Omorogbe might sound like any other school kid rattling off his grades: ‘A – for senior math, A- in Algebra …,’ but for the 21-year-old senior, they mean so much more.  Mr. Omorogbe originally was set to graduate in 2014. That was until, after a fight with his dad, he was ‘tossed’ out on the street. Eventually, his grandmother took him in for a while, but with her working during the day, Omorogbe needed to care for his gravely ill grandfather. School eventually became too much, so he dropped it…”

Suburban Poverty – Boston, MA

More families are struggling with poverty in Boston’s affluent suburbs, By Katie Johnson, February 18, 2017, Boston Globe: “Many suburbs around Boston are known for their good schools, picturesque downtowns, and steady stream of residents commuting to well-paid jobs in the city. But interspersed in this idyllic landscape is a growing number of families struggling to get by.  The number of low-income children in many affluent communities is rising at a much faster rate than it is statewide, in some cases doubling over the past decade. Wealthy communities such as Sudbury, Winchester, Hopkinton, Hingham, and Littleton have at least twice as many needy students in their schools as they did 10 years ago, according to an analysis of state data by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council done for the Globe…”

Intergenerational Poverty

Can poverty be passed down? A nonprofit tries to break the cycle, By Katie Johnson, July 12, 2016, Boston Globe: “In some households, poverty is passed down from generation to generation, almost like an inherited trait.  Teri Williams, president of OneUnited Bank, sees it happen among the lower-income Boston residents the bank serves. Often it boils down to bad decisions: people with bad credit who can’t get a utilities account use their children’s Social Security numbers to get the gas turned on and then can’t pay the bills, saddling their children with bad credit before they hit adulthood.  ‘We’ve seen that unfortunately too many times,’ Williams said.  New research suggests that these kinds of actions may be tied to the chronic stress of poverty, which can short-circuit brain development in children. This can limit their ability to plan ahead, control impulses, and juggle multiple tasks — skills that are vital to success in school and work…”

Income Inequality – Boston, MA

Half of city residents make less than $35,000 a year, study says, By Katie Johnson, March 15, 2016, Boston Globe: “Boston is a city of haves and have-nots, and a new study by the Boston Redevelopment Authority quantifies the growing divide, portraying the trend in stark numbers that show few benefits from the economic boom going to those near the bottom of the income scale.  Despite much attention given to high-paying jobs in technology, biotechnology, and finance, nearly half of Boston residents make less than $35,000 a year, the study shows. Incomes, when adjusted for inflation, have not risen for such workers for three decades…”

Financial Opportunity Centers

Boston centers help low-income residents with budgeting, By Katie Johnson, March 20, 2015, Boston Globe: “Making money isn’t the problem for Adalziza Campbell. Managing it is.  Campbell works two jobs, as a hairdresser and a certified nursing assistant, but still can’t get ahead. She got turned down for a bank loan to buy a house and had to borrow from her dwindling savings account to pay her bills.  ‘I’m making money,’ she said. ‘Why don’t I have it?’  Like many people, Campbell, 35, of Charlestown, had never created a budget or tried to improve her credit score. But she has started learning these skills at the new Roxbury Center for Financial Empowerment in Dudley Square, one of two such sites to open in October as part of the city’s new Office of Financial Empowerment…”

Health Assistance Program

Needy patients get ‘prescriptions’ for food and shelter through volunteer program, By Sandra G. Boodman, June 18, 2012, Washington Post: “Treshawn Jones was desperate. Jobless for four months, she had burned through her meager savings, was running low on food for her two young children and barely scraping by on weekly unemployment checks of $307 that didn’t begin to cover her overdue $600 utility bill and monthly rent of $900. So in March, while at Children’s National Medical Center with her 2-year-old son, Jones asked a sympathetic staff member if she knew of any resources that could help her family. Within minutes, Jones was meeting with Shalesha Lake, a junior at the University of Maryland at College Park who volunteers for Health Leads, an innovative program that has operated at Children’s since 2001. Three months later, with guidance from Lake, the 35-year-old single mother had completed a free job training course offered by Byte Back, a nonprofit group that provides computer training to underserved District residents, obtained free food and clothes for her children, applied for utility and rental assistance. . .”

Poverty Rate – Boston, MA

Poverty worsening in Hub, study says, By Meghan E. Irons, November 9, 2011, Boston Globe: “Poverty has deepened in Boston’s poorest neighborhoods, widening the gap between the city’s wealthiest and neediest residents, a report being released today finds. The study points to concentrated need in Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury, where 42 percent of children live in poverty, the densest cluster of childhood poverty in the state, according to the study sponsored by the Boston Foundation. In those communities, 85 percent of families are headed by a single parent, mainly mothers, and at least 20 percent of the adults have no high school diploma. Poverty there is fueled by unemployment and low educational attainment, the study found…”