The Struggle of Low Income Students in Michigan

PRE-PROPOSAL 1. Media Artifact

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

Hope Kessler and Daniel Grob Podcast: The Story of Jason  2. Persona and POV statement


Persona: Persona nameAge: School/occupation: Location:   Quote:   About:


POV Statement:
  • User (be specific and use empathetic language, e.g., Karla, a busy and high achieving high school student…):
  • Need (identifies a need that is meaningful and includes feelings, e.g. …needs a way to feel less stress at school…):
  • Insight (incorporates your observations; often unexpected, …because there is a lot of chaos in her life and she wants to feel more calm, peace, and mindfulness in her day.):


3. Potential Solutions:

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

  1. Our first proposal relates to the service activity we are participating in through the Community Action Network. We are working in the After School Program that helps mentor these young students both on a personal and academic level. When talking with the Director, we learned that it is extremely difficult for them to get funding due to bureaucratic obstacles. According to her, the state has enough funds for these programs but the requirements to receive the funds are so specific that almost no one qualifies. Our first proposal is to remove, or at least clean up, the red tape that is stopping these wonderful programs from receiving the funds they need. The Community Action Network, and many other programs like it around the state, make an enormous difference in promoting educational opportunities for disadvantaged students. Streamlining the process that helps fund their activities would be beneficial to students in need across the entire state.

  2. Our second proposal addresses the systematic disadvantages for students in lower income areas that attend below average school districts. Our proposal is to totally revamp the public school system in Michigan. From a young age, these students are at a disadvantage by attending a school district that does not have the means to provide a proper education. We propose that the State increases funding exponentially for education. This can be viewed as an investment in the future, as we are putting money into the future of these students. By increasing funding, the schools in lower income areas can afford to hire great teachers and staff, purchase technology to better facilitate learning, and maybe even update the school itself. Sadly, these students currently do not receive the education they deserve, that can change with the proper funding from the state.

  3. Our third proposal deals with the issues that arise within schools during a government shutdown. Recently, a lot of schools suffered within Michigan because they lost funding for the free and reduced lunch programs. This program attempts to tighten the gap between low and high income students by making sure that every students base level needs are met - by providing meals to lower income students, schools are making sure that the no student is hindered because they didn’t have breakfast served at home. By protecting the free and reduced lunch program from fluctuations in government legislation and shutdowns, schools across the country could continue to provide meals for all students. Without this programs, the gap between students of different income levels will only get bigger






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

Speaking with Community Action Network Director to determine what specific law(s) need to be changed in order to fix funding requirements. Most of our research has been focused on the Ann Arbor Public Housing Commission and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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 address the systematic disadvantages that students from low-income backgrounds face. These obstacles can negatively affect students ability to succeed academically, socially, and even economically later in life. By changing the requirements necessary for communities to receive government funding, this proposal works to ensure that no communities slip through the cracks.

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

Our original idea started from our personal interests in the challenges low-income children face. Through the discussions on the Michigan Student Caucus website and further research, we determined that focusing on the issue through the lens of education would be an effective method to address the issue. 

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

Our service activity directly influenced our proposal by providing a means to address a real issue. While we knew that we wanted to focus on the barriers low-income students face, we were struggling to find a tangible and feasible way to address such issue. Through working with the Community Action Network, we realized that many communities do not receive the government funding they need because of the way the current law is structured. To provide some context, we volunteer at the Bryant Community Center - it services over 260 households in the southeast Ann Arbor area and about 75% of these houses experience low income. Through discussions with the program director at Bryant, we determined that restructuring the requirements needed to receive funding need to be altered in order to ensure all communities in need are helped. 

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: Bryant Community Center Director (Skylar Woodman) and Assistant Director (Colette DeRaud) - understand where Bryant Community Center gets funding 

CONSULTATION 2: Community Action Network Director (Derrick Miller) - gather more information about the Community Action Network and understand the difference between programs like Bryant, Hikone, and Green Baxter Court

CONSULTATION 3: U of M Social Welfare Policy Professor Luke Shaefer - understand social welfare policy, specifically how communities qualify to be public housing communities and the benefits they receive

CONSULTATION 4: Student at Bryant Community Center - get a student’s perspective on how the Community Action Network has impacted them

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.

We received relatively positive feedback when we met with MSC coordinators to discuss our proposal. One piece of advice he gave us was to seek more information from activists and people who are currently fighting for a cause similar to ours. Based on this advice we have started reaching out to faculty at the University that are knowledgeable on social welfare programs. We are hoping these faculty members will be able to connect us with people who are experts on the issues we are trying to tackle. 
We have also received a lot of great feedback from Jenna Kravitz, a topic coordinator. Jenna provided a lot of ideas for how to improve our potential proposals as well as posed questions that have strengthened our idea. One specific piece of advice that Jenna gave was to reach out to the Peace Neighborhood Center. We have since reached out to directors for the organization. 


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 idea came from the training we did prior to volunteering with the Community Action Network. Part of the training covered the history of the organization and from this we learned that CAN opened a program at the Bryant Community Center, our volunteering location, because it did not qualify to be a public housing community despite being a low-income area. We continued to do research on the specific criteria to receive housing subsidies and thought it could turn into an interesting proposal.
Since generating the idea, we have been working with directors at the Community Action Network to better understand its operations and how they differ in communities like Bryant that receive little government support and those like Hikone or Green Baxter Court that do. 
As we continue our research, we are hoping to better understand the specific legislation by working with Public Policy faculty at the University of Michigan. We have started reaching out to various professors and department heads who can hopefully help us with the more technical research. 

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.?

By volunteering together, a large majority of the background conversations that lead to the crafting of this proposal were experienced together. Beyond this, the research done was collaborative in nature with both of us contributing to the sources used. The process of developing the idea and proposal was conversational; however, we split up the typing of the proposal. 


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.... Low-income students face many systematic obstacles to educational, social, and economic success. 

WHEREAS.... Community programs provide many resources for low-income students that help tackle the disadvantages they face relative to their wealthier peers. 

WHEREAS.... Some community programs struggle to receive needed funding from the government due to specific requirements in the law.  

Operative clauses

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


1. The requirements for community programs to receive funding be altered to ensure efficient allocation of government resources. 

2. The specific diction of the law be altered to encompass all communities in need. 


What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

1. It may be difficult as students to navigate the legal jargon associated with this proposal. As it focuses on changing the words of the law, a high level of legal proficiency may be needed. 

2. The government may be extremely hesitant to change the current system for funding. 

3. The government already provides some funding for communities in need based on the current requirements. In light of this, they may see no reason to change such requirements.

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)?  

This proposal has the advantage of not being an entirely new idea, making it extremely feasible in nature. The funding for these programs already exists; however, we are changing the requirements needed to receive it. This will increase the total cost to the state. The legislation can be paid for through apportioning the budget to increase community support funding and decrease funding from areas with an excess (i.e. the prison system and state infrastructure.) 

The areas that lose funding as a result of this proposal would most likely be opposed to the change.



These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.


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Total votes: 3