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2021 Report

Blurry image of a map of Detroit

Five Years of Impact:

Propelling Change


A diverse collage of photos from Poverty Solutions

Fall of 2021 marked the five-year anniversary of the launch of Poverty Solutions. Since then, we have undertaken hundreds of projects, established powerful community partnerships throughout the country, and demonstrated the myriad ways we can connect our research to policy and practice. In this five-year anniversary report, we offer a brief look at some of the people and projects that have helped advance our efforts to prevent and alleviate the devastating effects of poverty.

Since 2016

academic journal articles, working papers, & policy briefs supported
team members testified before congress
faculty experts connected with efforts to address economic disparities
events hosted exploring the causes and consequences of poverty
people connected with our efforts to eliminate poverty
schools and colleges partnered with on projects & events

In 2021

times cited in national, regional, & local media & by the White House
social media impressions generated
students engaged in research assistantships, projects, and courses
aerial photo of U-M campus

Leadership Message

Portrait of H. Luke Shaefer

Director H. Luke Shaefer

Poverty Solutions is a presidential initiative of the University of Michigan that partners with communities and policymakers to find new ways to prevent and alleviate poverty. In confronting the challenges of poverty, we know scholars do not have all the answers. Yet we have an important role to play. We can use data, evidence, and analysis to identify critical issues and evidence-based solutions to inform action.

Highlights from Our First Five Years

Below we highlight some of the signature projects from the past five years that have helped advance Poverty Solutions' efforts to confront poverty and be a part of positive change.


The following stories demonstrate how Poverty Solutions has worked with partners to inform concrete policy change in the areas of expanding the Child Tax Credit, increasing access to affordable housing, and improving systems to identify students experiencing homelessness. Our approach begins with listening to community input to set our research agenda, followed by analyzing data and conducting research to identify existing policy gaps, sharing those findings and proposing evidence-based interventions, supporting the implementation of new policies, then evaluating the outcome of those new policies, and sharing the findings.

conversation between three people at a table

Strengthening the cash safety net to reduce poverty and hardship

In March 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act, which included an expansion of the Child Tax Credit that increased the amount of the credit, made it available to more families, and distributed it in monthly payments.
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front view of four houses

Building a path to safe and stable housing for all Detroiters

Detroit’s housing crisis is multifaceted and complex. It has been shaped by an inadequate supply of affordable housing; high property tax rates often based on inflated property assessments; aging and deteriorating housing; a lack of home repair resources; and a pattern of bulk ownership that has exacerbated displacement pressures.
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Jennier Erb-Downward making a presentation

Addressing student homelessness amid the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic made an already challenging task for school staff even more difficult: how to identify which students do not currently have a stable place to live and connect them with resources to ensure they’re able to fully participate in school.
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aerial view of a water straight


“An essential ingredient to developing good policy is understanding what people want and need, and how they experience their lives. At a really basic level, this is the government’s job. A lot of people don’t have an opportunity to articulate their needs, and they deserve to be represented in the policies that get made.”
Elisabeth Gerber
Professor of Public Policy and co-PI of the Detroit Metro Area Communities Study

Amplifying impact through robust partnerships

students in class


Engaging Students & Faculty

Poverty Solutions has engaged nearly 650 students in research assistantships, projects, courses, and events representing nearly all 19 schools and colleges. Our faculty partnerships reflect the full range of expertise across all U-M departments and campuses.

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county map


Supporting Our Community

Recognizing U-M’s impact on the local community, Poverty Solutions pursues partnerships with a variety of government officials, service providers, criminal justice administrators, educators, business leaders, and community advocates in Washtenaw County to promote equity and reduce poverty.

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a panel of presenters


Contributing to Detroit Initiatives

Poverty Solutions continues to work closely with city officials, service providers, faculty researchers, nonprofit organizations, neighborhood groups, and resident leaders in Detroit on a variety of projects aimed at poverty prevention and alleviation.

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stimulus check website loaded on a laptop


Addressing Issues in Michigan

Through its partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Poverty Solutions has contributed to numerous evidence-based policy changes across the state. Other recent state partnerships have focused on the employment risks of undocumented workers and addressing poverty among children.

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luke making a speech


Providing Expertise

Poverty Solutions’ research has played an important role in policies implemented across the country. From enhancing early childhood education and access to COVID-19 stimulus payments to identifying America's most disadvantaged communities and providing congressional testimonies, our scholars have become recognized as anti-poverty experts on the national level.

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