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October 2012

Figures of Progress: Erica Raleigh featured by GOOD + IBM

Data Driven Detroit (D3)’s very own Assistant Director of Projects, Erica Raleigh, has been featured by Figures of Progress, a platform that connects leaders in the data and information fields to their audiences, disclosing the opportunities for growth in their industry, business, or city. Figures of Progress was established by a partnership between GOOD and IBM to reveal how data and technology are transforming the future. This online community features new leaders each week; previous featured leaders include Zipcar’s Chief Marketing Officer Rob Weisberg, City of New York’s Chief Digital Officer, Rachel Sterne and Code for America’s Founder and Director, Jennifer Pahlka. Data Driven Detroit is proud to have Erica Raleigh representing our organization among so many inspirational leaders of the 21st Century!

Educating Youths to Prepare for the Future

By Kurt Metzger, Director

Data Driven Detroit (D3) is dedicated to sharing much of the data we collect, compile, and visualize. Our website hosts numerous tools for accessing data and we’re developing more training opportunities for interested people to learn more about data. In the meantime, public speaking opportunities are still the best way we are able to talk about the important work we do.

Late September to early November is one of the busiest periods for conferences and meetings, so it results in many speaking requests.  While 2012 is one of my busiest years to date, I had a particularly gratifying opportunity last week.

D3 was contacted by several teachers at Birmingham Groves High School through the “Ask Kurt” button on the D3 website.  The request from Paul Van Ermen read:

Greetings, Mr. Metzger;
I represent a team of teachers who are interested in having our 11th grade Composition students write an expository essay on a current critical issue that is facing metro Detroiters.  We have polled the students and compiled their interests into 6 topics…  Might you be willing to spend 90 minutes of time in early October in addressing our 80 total students with a challenge and inspiration as we begin our project?

Previous opportunities to speak to students through Generations of Promise and the Mosaic Youth Theater have been some of my favorite experiences, so I was honored and intrigued by the offer.  I contacted Paul and discussed the project, finding that the six topics they had identified were:

1. Urban Farming
2. Poverty and Homelessness
3. Public Transportation
4. Crime and Justice in Detroit and Southeast Michigan
5. Business Investment and Development
6. Public Schools

Not only were these great topics, but I was reminded by my daughter that my son-in-law was a Groves graduate and that she hoped to have her 10-month old daughter attend Groves.  I was hooked.

Over the course of three class sessions on Tuesday, October 16, I was able to meet Paul and his partners – Joyce Laszczak and Karen Reed-Nordwall – and speak to approximately 100 students.  I was even monitored by Principal Procter during the first of the three periods!  The students were attentive (they neither talked nor snored) and had prepared questions in advance.  Paul bought me a school lunch – it was pretty healthy, I might add – and I have connected with Principal Procter on LinkedIn.

It was extremely gratifying to see high school students being exposed to issues in the context of Detroit and the larger region.  Too many adults have become quite parochial in their interests and our region has become divided by geography, race, and self-interest.  Frequently I have discussions in which the next generation is identified as the one that will make everything better.  They have that potential, but they need to be exposed to the issues so that they can better understand what they need to do.  I have that hope for many of the students I saw on Tuesday, and I hope that more teachers across this region will see the importance of following the lead of Paul, Joyce and Karen.

I sent Paul an email of thanks on Wednesday and received this in return:

MANY THANKS for your 3 excellent presentations yesterday!  The teachers and I were thrilled with your work and our students are lucky to have you share your wisdom.  Your preparation, though second nature to you, seems WON[D]ERFUL to us, and is greatly appreciated!

I return the thanks for the opportunity.


D3 Reports on Poverty in Southeast Michigan

D3 Reports on Poverty in Southeast Michigan

By Louis Bach, Communications

“Poverty and food access are issues of tremendous importance in southeast Michigan. If you are fortunate enough to not have to face the problem, chances are that one of your neighbors is not so fortunate. We must develop regional approaches to deal with poverty throughout our region.”

– Kurt Metzger, Southeast Michigan Poverty Report

Forgotten Harvest relieves hunger in the Detroit metropolitan community by rescuing surplus, prepared, and perishable food and donating it to emergency food providers. To inform and support Forgotten Harvest’s mission, Data Driven Detroit produced the Southeast Michigan Poverty Report. For the period between 2000 and 2010, D3’s analysis found:

  • Poverty increased throughout the region,
  • The poverty rate for children is higher than that for the general population; for example, the city of Detroit in 2010 had a poverty rate of 37.6% for the general population and 53.6% for children.
  • The population in poverty of Detroit’s suburbs (out-Detroit communities in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties) nearly doubled, increasing the suburban share of metro Detroit’s overall population in poverty from 45 percent to 59.7 percent.
  • Food stamp eligibility more than doubled in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties.

The Detroit Free Press, in an article about the D3 report, included these comments from Kurt Metzger:

[Between 2000 and 2010], because of an abrupt drop in housing prices across the region, low-income families were able to move from Detroit “to the first suburban ring,” said Kurt Metzger, director of Data Driven Detroit and author of the report. Poverty also increased in suburbs that are distant from Detroit, although “it’s often hidden in middle- and higher-income communities (where) families lost jobs, had hours cut or took new jobs at lower pay,” Metzger said… “Poverty and need is no longer a central, core-city issue. It is a regional issue”.

The Free Press listed a number of groups in metro Detroit that seek to address hunger and other essential needs, including Focus: HOPE, Gleaners, the Neighborhood Service Organization, and the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency.

Download Data Driven Report’s poverty and food security report: Southeast Michigan Poverty Report