Professor Luke Shaefer’s latest book, “The Injustice of Place: Uncovering the Legacy of Poverty in America,” is now available. Together with his co-authors, Shaefer looked at poverty, combined with health outcomes and social mobility rates to examine America’s most disadvantaged communities — almost all of which are rural, and are concentrated in three regions: Appalachia, South Texas, and the southern Cotton Belt.
“Throughout these regions, we saw the same themes emerge again and again—unequal schooling, the collapse of social infrastructure, violence, entrenched public corruption, and structural racism embedded in government programs,” writes Shaefer.
In 2018, ENGAGE launched the Small Grants Program to encourage faculty to build partnerships with Detroit community-based organizations and to support resident-led efforts to strengthen Detroit neighborhoods. These awards are supported by the Office of the Provost and are part of the School of Social Work’s strategic effort to connect Detroit engagement efforts and increase impact in the city. ENGAGE partners with the Ford School’s Detroit Urban Research Center in the administration of the small grants program.
Here are this year’s grant recipients:
1) It's not just me! Black young adults' views of what it takes to live on the right side of the law: An intersectional-CBPR study
Faculty Member: Associate Professor Camille Quinn (Michael Kloc, research assistant)
Community Partner: Rai LaNier, Executive Director, MI Liberation
2) Neighborhood Initiatives Examining Organizational Impact: A Quality Team Project
Faculty Member: Associate Professor Katie Richards-Shuster
Community Partner: Alexandra Bolin, Impact and Improvement Coordinator, United Project
3) Community-led Storytelling in Detroit
Faculty Member: Lecturer Maureen Okasinski
Community Partner: Erik Howard, Executive Director, Inside Southwest Detroit
4) D-Boy Dads: Exploring Fatherhood in Detroit
Faculty Member: Professor Rich Tolman
Community Partners: Sam Donald, Director Detroit Musix; Marcus Hille, Parent Think Tank; Willie Bell, Director: Family Assistance for Renaissance Men; John Miles, Children’s Center, Fatherhood Coordinator; Bomani Gray: Metro Detroit Father Policy Group
Clinical Assistant Professor Justin Hodge was interviewed by CBS Detroit where he discussed health equity and the practices around the sale of flavored tobacco products across the state. “We know that 21% of teens in Michigan have reported e-cigarette use, and a study with the FDA has shown that 40% of retailers have sold cigarettes to minors,” said Hodge.
Professor Trina Shanks’ research on the long-term implications of the Homestead Act was cited by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson in her dissent of last month’s Supreme Court ruling striking down affirmative action in college admissions.
Professor Luke Shaefer spoke to Minnesota Public Radio about that state’s new child tax credit. “It's not a silver bullet. It's not going to solve all of the challenges that we face, but no policy is. And this one is one that works. It is one that we should be able to see positive impacts in a year's time,” Shaefer said.
MSW student Peter Slutzker has been appointed to Ann Arbor’s Housing and Human Services Advisory Board. “I'm honored to receive this appointment on behalf of the mayor’s office,” said Slutzker. “I'm hopeful that, as a community member-at-large, I can provide insights from my years providing supportive housing and case management services to members of historically marginalized communities, in both urban and rural settings, to improve conditions and service provisions for Ann Arbor residents. I'm looking forward to the experience of working and learning alongside the knowledgeable members of the board.”
Associate Professor Kristin Seefeldt and Lecturer Trevor Bechtel spoke to the Ann Arbor City Council earlier this month about a new program which would provide a universal basic income to 100 Ann Arbor residents engaged in some form of entrepreneurship. The program is a partnership between the city and U-M’s Poverty Solutions, who will administer the program and analyze the findings.
“We want to see how this guaranteed income allows this community to improve their personal economic security and wellbeing, whether that’s through expanding their business efforts or by scaling back,” said Seefeldt, who will lead the research efforts. Assistant Professor Rebeccah Sokol is a co-principal investigator. Associate Professor Terri Friedline and Professors Joe Ryan and Trina Shanks are also on the research team.
“We know some community members were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” said Councilmember Linh Song, MSW ’04, who advocated for the initiative. “This program recognizes and addresses this inequity so that program participants can have a fighting chance to continue to live and work in Ann Arbor.”
Professor William Elliott III spoke with St. Louis public radio about the transformational power of Child Development Accounts and the effect they can have on multi-generational poverty. One of the key things he’s learned, Elliott says, is that the way out of poverty lies along the path of asset accumulation. “Building assets allows people to build their full potential,” he says, “because it augments their ability to tackle the system.”
Professor Joe Ryan was quoted in the Michigan Chronicle about new protocols set by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as part of their Keep Kids Safe Action Agenda.
“MDHHS demonstrates a strong commitment to data-driven decisions to help keep children safe and guide the development of services for families,” he said. “Department actions such as increasing the number of family resource centers that provide critical services to vulnerable families and expanding home visiting programs are examples of efforts that are evidence-based and designed to strengthen families and help protect children in Michigan.”
Professor Luke Shaefer spoke with Michigan Advance about Rx Kids, a new program in Flint, Michigan, which will work to improve residents’ health by alleviating poverty in the state’s poorest city. The program, which is likely to begin in 2024, specifically focuses on maternal and infant health outcomes at a community level; every Flint resident who is pregnant will be eligible to receive direct cash payments during their pregnancy and throughout the first year of their child’s life. RxKids is a collaboration between Michigan State University and University of Michigan. Shaefer, who is the director of U-M’s Poverty Solutions, is working on the program’s launch.
“This is something where Flint becomes a leader for the nation; that’s a really powerful thing,” Shaefer said. “We’ve already spent time at the White House, at the U.S. Capitol, in Lansing, and I’ve never had a project like this where people get this happy,” Shaefer said. “I’ve been working in poverty for a long time, and I think the design of this and values imbued in it are fundamentally different than other efforts.”
University of Michigan
School of Social Work
1080 South University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1106