The Impact of Poverty in Michigan

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

Poverty in Michigan - Media Artifact Link

2. Persona and POV statement                                                                                                                           

  Serena Jacobs   3. Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: Serena can make well-informed financial decisions that in time, will pay off. Depending on her credit score, she can take out well priced loans in order to pay off short term obligations. With her income, she can then begin making safe debt investments that pay a modest yet compounding interest rate. This money will continously grow at the risk free rate, allowing her to cover loan interest on top of receiving additional disposable income from the investment.

SOLUTION 2: Serena can use one of a few nationwide free tutoring services which were created to help lower income children succeed in school.  By doing so, she will not only help her children achieve academic success in the short run, but will instill in them the importance of academics and learning. With this intense learning schedule, she can prepare her children to receive scholarships to the best of her ability on top of creating free time that can be filled with over time hours.

SOLUTION 3: Serena can fully analyze all costs that she faces in her life. Although this would be very difficult as she does not have much time on her hands, it could be very helpful. By identifying major costs, she can think critically about whether or not they are all absolutely necessary. By cutting costs, Serena would have more money to put aside into savings, that will hopefully accumulate.



Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

This proposal will have a major impact as it does not serve as merely a source of money that doesn't add legitmate value. Our proposal aims to allow lower income families to hopefully break the poverty cycle through enhanced education.

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

Through interacting with teachers and students struggling with these issues, this reality came to our attention. At first we knew we wanted to tackle a different segment of the poverty issue, however, through consultations and research, we learned about what we are now pursuing.

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Our service activity has influenced our proposal by giving us additional perspective on the issue as well as providing a new lens through which we can view the problem.  Working with food gatherers we have seen first hand the way some families in Michigan struggle with such basic necessities that they are unable to focus any time or effort on activities that could potentially lift their family out of poverty.  In other words, food gatherers has shown us real world examples of the extent to which poverty is cyclical, and the reason so many Americans struggle to break the cycle.  This was deeply influential in impacting our proposal because it pushed us to attack poverty at its foundation rather than heal its symptoms.  After thorough research, we agreed that there would be no better place to start than education, and from there we began to craft our proposal. 

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:


Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1: John Reimers (High School Teacher with experience teaching in lower income areas with higher dropout rates): Reimers supported the idea of having state-sponsored tutoring.  He noted that from personal experience, he believes the most common reason for a student to drop out is feeling like their work at school does not have a purpose.  He went on to say that this starts with a student falling behind and therefore not fully understanding their classes and benefits from learning the material in such classes.  

CONSULTATION 2: Anonymous (This consultation is from a University of Michigan student who almost dropped out of school with failing grades before making a major life adjustment, going to Washtenaw Community College, and transferring to the U of M where he now majors in SI): This student said that he believes our proposal could be helpful to many, but that it would not have helped him.  This student believes that we would be wiser to focus our proposal on raising the quality of teaching in Michigan high schools.  It was his high school English teacher who convinced him to not drop out, and became a mentor to him eventually helping him graduate and end up at the U of M.

CONSULTATION 3: Lawrence Weinberg (Boston University Professor with experience in social work and poverty as it relates to education): Lawrence also gave verbal support for our proposal, but was skeptical of our ability to convince legislators for funding.  He cited a large number of cases he has seen where state legislators, for reasons he noted were "inconceivable" did not grant funding to schools in communities where it was most needed.  However, he admitted he had not heard anyone offer tutoring services with public school.  Lawrence spoke similary to Reimers, saying that from his personal observations working in the field, students who dropout almost always cite the fact that their attendance and graduation will not contribute to their future success.  He says that the key to reducing dropout rates in communities where poverty is rampant is in showing students at such schools just how many more options a high school diploma gives them.

CONSULTATION 4: Reached out to Achieve Learning, a non-profit tutoring company "committed first and foremost to providing the very best quality in education to ensure that the students in our community are able to compete at the highest levels of academic excellence."

CONSULTATION 5: Reached out to Angela Dorn, "a successful New York attorney with a Harvard Law degree who deciddd to leave the field and become cofounder of Single Stop, a nonprofit that connects people with resources they need to get out of poverty.  Single Stop has since helped more than a million U.S. households, with $3 billion in support.

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

Our proposal’s research process has been both extremely interesting and rewarding. We originally identified the problem of poverty in the Michigan community and from there, dove deeper to discover how exactly we could make a difference. Originally, we brainstormed providing lower income families with superior financial management knowledge that would allow money to compound and grow. Through research and talking to our consultants, we learned quickly that this solution was not feasible as the people we are attempting to aid often have no disposable income to put aside. From that point, we began considering the educational aspect. We pondered the poverty cycle as a whole and began thinking of ways to break it. We came up with using enhanced education as a solution. By speaking to both high school and university teachers, we gained valuable insight into what the issue looks like from the educator’s perspective. To add, we then reached out to a student who experienced first hand some of the hardships we discuss in our proposal. With the angle of the teachers, the students, and various organizations, we were able to get a complete picture of the issue at hand and feel confident about our proposal.

  Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?


The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

WHEREAS....Michigan has 15% poverty rate (above national average)

WHEREAS....Michigan's child poverty rate has consistently been above national average

WHEREAS....70% of surveyed public school teachers reported seeing class sizes rise and teacher to student ratios fall

WHEREAS....Michigan has a graduation rate 8% below the national average

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).


1. Develop “Adequacy and Equity” plans describing how they will remedy disparities in educational tools, services, opportunities, and resources among districts and schools as part of their applications for funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). 

2. Using student assessment results to identify policies and programs that will improve learning

3. Create a fund for the purpose of paying for tutoring services for underprivaleged, underperforming students


What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. This proposal will be too expensive and Michigan's already tight budget does not have the capability to fund such a project.

2. Lawmakers need to focus on creating jobs and helping lower income families before looking at schools.

3. Michigan's school system is only poor in a few districts and is reasonably adaquate in a majority of areas, why allocate funds to helping just a few districts?

Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

The main cost of our program would be the salary of the program's tutors.  The cost of supplies, teaching materials, and classroom space would be very minimal given the fact these programs could occur at elementary, middle, and high schools after school is over.  While the most obvious place for the funding from our proposal is to raise taxes (which is a highly feasible method of funding given the fact that even the tax were applied to only the top 5% of earners in the state, it would be a very small percentage increase) we believe there are a number of other potential methods to fund the program.  One potential solution to the problem is by passing legislation that requires graduate students and potentially undergraduates at the state's public institutions who receive merit scholarships to participate in the program as volunteer tutors.  Not only is this fair to the tutors given the fact they are receiving massive amounts of funding from the state to study, but it would also provide younger students with access to a large pool of high quality tutors. This plan would require legislators working with college administrations across the state, which could be seen as an opportunity cost.




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