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Detroit residents’ trust in police shaped by history of police contact

Contact: Lauren Slagter,

DETROIT Detroit residents who have had any type of contact with police are more critical of police than people who have no contact with police, according to a survey of Detroit residents from the University of Michigan.

U-M’s Detroit Metro Area Communities Study surveyed residents about their personal experiences with police in July 2020, shortly after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. DMACS surveyed a representative sample of Detroit residents, and results have been weighted to reflect the population of the city of Detroit.

The survey asked about three types of interactions with police: forceful contact, nonforceful contact and no contact in the last year. Detroiters commented on their personal experiences as well as the experiences of their family and acquaintances, referred to as proximate contact. A new report analyzing the survey data found 37% of residents had personal or proximate contact with police.

Two percent of Detroit residents reported personal experiences with forceful police contact in the last year. Given Detroit’s total adult population estimate in 2020, this translates to about 8,755 adult residents experiencing forceful contact for the year. When including proximate contact, 17% of Detroiters either personally experienced or knew someone who experienced forceful police contact.

There are no significant racial differences among residents who experience personal or proximate forceful contact from the police, and there are no differences in experience of forceful police contact among Detroiters of different income levels, education levels and age cohorts. Women are less likely than men to report exposure to forceful police contact.

While any type of police contact correlated with more critical views of police, Detroiters who have had forceful contact with police tend to be even more critical of police than those with nonforceful contact.

Fifty-six percent of those who experienced forceful contact with police disagree that police are doing a good job protecting them and their neighborhood versus 33% of those with nonforceful contact and 22% of those with no police contact. Fifty percent of those with forceful contact disagree that police can be trusted in comparison to 27% of those with nonforceful contact and 19% of those with no contact.

“The similarities in views between residents who have experienced forceful and nonforceful contact with police suggests any type of contact with police may be enough to change people’s views on policing,” said Lauren Chojnacki, a research associate with DMACS who authored the report.

The survey analysis also found age is an important factor in determining Detroiters’ views toward police, especially among those who have experienced forceful contact. Detroiters aged 18-30 tend to hold more negative views toward the police than older Detroiters. Young Detroiters who experienced forceful police contact are more than twice as likely to disagree that the police are doing a good job in comparison to young Detroiters with no police contact (80% compared to 36%).

These survey findings add to a previous analysis of a DMACS survey on residents’ views on crime and policing conducted in summer 2021. That survey found 42% of residents said greater police presence in their neighborhood would make them feel safer, while 10% said more police in their neighborhood would make them feel less safe.

“There’s a simultaneous desire for police reform and favorable public opinion regarding police,” Chojnacki said “There’s a tension among residents who want both change in a system and the security and protection experienced within that system.”


Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office, ACLU of Michigan, University of Michigan announce release of Prosecutor Transparency Project study

Robust, Data-Driven Project Examines Racial Inequities in Prosecutorial System

Contacts: Liz Mack (Washtenaw Prosecutor’s Office),, 734-585-6714
Ann Mullen (ACLU of Michigan),, 313-400-8562
J.J. Prescott (U-M Law),, 734-763-2326
Trevor Bechtel (Poverty Solutions),, 734-615-0216

ANN ARBOR – Today, the Prosecutor Transparency Project released findings from a multi-year analysis of racial disparities in the prosecutorial system in Washtenaw County. The Prosecutor Transparency Project — a collaboration between the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office, the ACLU of Michigan, the University of Michigan Law School, and the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions — seeks to analyze potential racial disparities in decisions made by the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office.

A detailed summary of the findings is available at

As part of the Prosecutor Transparency Project, the Prosecutor’s Office gave independent researchers at the University of Michigan Law School complete access to its criminal case management systems, containing data from nearly 35,000 cases from 2017-2022. Those researchers analyzed the data to determine whether racial disparities exist at key prosecutorial decision-making points.

The Prosecutor Transparency Project represents the first time independent researchers have been provided access to extensive prosecutorial data in Michigan for the purpose of conducting a race-equity analysis. The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office provided researchers from the University of Michigan unfettered access to felony and misdemeanor files, making the project one of the most comprehensive empirical studies on prosecutorial decision-making in the nation. The study also traverses two prosecutorial administrations, as Prosecuting Attorney Eli Savit took office in 2021.

The research team was led by Professor J.J. Prescott and Grady Bridges of the University of Michigan Law School. Prescott is one of the nation’s top empirical criminal justice scholars. Bridges has years of experience collecting and analyzing Michigan criminal justice data and served as data administrator for Michigan’s Criminal Justice Policy Commission.

Previous analyses—including the 2020 Citizens for Racial Equity in Washtenaw (CREW) report—have indicated that Black residents in Washtenaw County are disproportionately likely to face criminal charges. Although the Transparency Project focused specifically on prosecutorial decision-making (and did not purport to reach any conclusions about other systems actors), the University of Michigan’s analysis found that these numeric disparities are largely “baked in” by the time cases arrive at the Prosecutor’s Office.

Controlling for factors such as the severity of a case, the researchers also identified small disparities in certain prosecutorial decisions and no evidence of disparities in others.

Specifically, the study concluded:

  • The prosecutor’s office was 0.7 percentage points more likely to authorize charges for defendants of color than for white defendants between 2017 and 2022. Though that disparity is marginally statistically significant, its statistical significance is driven by data from one year (2019).
  • Defendants of color were charged with crimes having maximum sentences 2.15 months longer than white defendants in similar circumstances, with statistically significant disparities that were larger in 2018 and 2020.
  • Among eligible defendants, people of color are less likely than white people to be designated as habitual offenders. A habitual offender designation means longer maximum sentences.
  • Defendants of color faced 0.05 more charges per case on average than white defendants in similar circumstances between 2017 and 2022.

The study also looked for evidence of racial disparities in whether defendants are admitted into diversion programs — which allow a defendant to avoid a criminal record upon completion of a plan. The study found no evidence of racial disparities into whether similarly situated defendants are admitted into two programs: the Prosecutor’s pre-plea diversion program and the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.

Finally, the study sought to identify potential racial disparities in plea bargaining decisions. Data limitations precluded the research team from reaching robust conclusions about plea-bargaining practices. However, its preliminary plea bargaining analysis did not find evidence of racial disparities.

“The Prosecutor and his team were always vigilant about protecting people’s privacy, but the office also made sure we had access to every bit of information we asked about that might be relevant to measuring disparities,” said J.J. Prescott, the Henry King Ransom Professor at the University of Michigan Law School. “Throughout the entire process, the Prosecutor has been eager for unvarnished answers so the office can continue to improve. PTP’s assessment in Washtenaw County provides a clear roadmap for conducting similar audits throughout Michigan and the nation.”

“The comprehensive nature of this study also puts Washtenaw County and Michigan more generally on the map in terms of evidence-based evaluation of prosecutorial decision making,” Prescott added. “Our analysis improves on other studies that have explored racial disparities in prosecutorial decision-making. Most existing work focuses on specific types or classes of cases, or suffers from significant data limitations that make it hard to pinpoint the sources of disparities. Our evaluation is not without weaknesses, of course, but we use the ‘blind spots’ in data collection and management that we uncover to shine a bright light on the need for critical data infrastructure improvements. For this reason, this collaborative effort takes an important step toward the goal of measuring, understanding, and working to eliminate disparities in prosecutorial decision-making.”

“Consequences in the criminal legal system should be imposed because of what someone did, not because of who they are,” said Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney Eli Savit. “I’m grateful to the research team for taking an unflinching look at potential racial disparities in prosecution. I am also grateful to the ACLU for funding this project, allowing this work to be completed without taxpayer expenditure. The data from this report will inform our continuing efforts to promote equal justice in our system.”

“The researchers’ independent report, for me, confirms my observations that our assistant prosecutors charging and resolving cases are doing so in a manner consistent with fairness and justice, not based on the color of someone’s skin,” said Washtenaw County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Victoria Burton-Harris. “As a leader of this office, that’s important to me. I’m proud to stand by it, and I look forward to continued efforts to ensure transparency and equity in our system.”

“A critical step in beginning to address the racial disparities in the criminal legal system is for agencies to track, analyze, and make publicly available data at every stage of the criminal legal process,” said Loren Khogali, executive director of the Michigan ACLU. “We commend the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office for taking a look in the proverbial mirror and contributing to a growing body of data-driven studies, which also show how our criminal legal system has an inequitable impact on people of color, especially Black people. This report adds to the imperative that agency leaders throughout Michigan, including police chiefs, prosecutors, judges, and court administrators, also hold themselves accountable by examining their part in our deeply flawed criminal legal system.”

The Prosecutor Transparency Project’s full 116-page report is available for the public to read at In addition, to promote data accessibility, Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan has published a digestible, interactive digital report outlining the key takeaways from the analysis, which is available at

Dr. Trevor Bechtel — who has led multiple projects designed to increase access to information — spearheaded that effort.

“Working on the Prosecutor Transparency Project has allowed us at Poverty Solutions to bring our commitment to data and accessibility and transparency to work understanding the criminal legal system,” said Bechtel, the strategic projects manager of Poverty Solutions’ Washtenaw County programs. “We are excited to continue working with the Prosecutor Savit’s office as we move towards release of a data dashboard on prosecution in our county.”

Next steps for the Prosecutor Transparency Project include the identification of trackable metrics to ensure equitable treatment in the justice system and the creation of an interactive “data dashboard” for the Prosecutor’s Office. Results will continue to be made available as they are completed.


Poverty Solutions at U-M grows partnerships in poverty alleviation in 2023

Contact: Lauren Slagter,

Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan last year informed the largest-ever increase in state funding for youth homelessness programs, advised federal policymakers on place-based strategies for tackling poverty and laid the groundwork for innovative cash assistance programs.

These policy impacts and other accomplishments from the past year at the national, statewide, local and campus levels are outlined in the presidential initiative’s 2023 impact report, which was released Feb. 1.

Strong partnerships with policymakers, community groups and academic scholars are instrumental in driving Poverty Solutions’ progress in using action-based research to successfully alleviate poverty.

“There are many ways to gauge impact, but the ultimate measure is whether we are positively impacting people’s lives in meaningful ways,” said H. Luke Shaefer, founding faculty director of Poverty Solutions, which launched in 2016.

“That type of impact is only possible through partnerships, and we continue to build relationships with policymakers and practitioners to ensure our research is responsive to the pressing issues of the day.”

Shaefer also is the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy and a professor of public policy in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and a professor of social work in the School of Social Work.

Faculty from various fields, 139 students from 17 of U-M’s 19 schools and colleges, plus 14 staff members contributed to Poverty Solutions’ work last year. That included hosting 16 events exploring the causes and consequences of poverty; supporting the publication of 17 academic journal articles, working papers and policy briefs; and garnering more than 500 mentions in national, regional and local news outlets.

“Part of our mission at Poverty Solutions is to foster a highly interdisciplinary approach to confronting poverty. We cultivate relationships with faculty and students across the university to build a collaborative learning community that can bring new ideas to fruition,” said Kristin Seefeldt, associate faculty director of Poverty Solutions and an associate professor of social work and public policy.

Policy impact highlights include:

  • Laying the groundwork for cash assistance programs that will launch in 2024 and serve as blueprints for child allowance and guaranteed income programs across the country. These include Flint Rx Kids, a citywide maternal and infant cash prescription program, and Guaranteed Income to Grow Ann Arbor, which provides guaranteed income to 100 entrepreneurs and gig workers with low incomes in Ann Arbor.
  • Informing a $5.3 million boost in state funding for youth homelessness programs, which was the largest increase in funding for youth homelessness prevention and intervention services in the history of Michigan’s state budget.
  • Providing technical assistance to organizations involved in the Detroit Financial Well-Being Innovation Challenge.
  • Advising federal policymakers on place-based approaches to poverty alleviation, which Poverty Solutions is pursuing in partnership with community organizations across the country.

The impact report also spotlights Poverty Solutions’ efforts to make data more accessible on food security and opioid use, support faculty research on transportation insecurity, shed new light on barriers to affordable and accessible child care in Michigan, explore public opinion on reparations, and promote workforce preparation for local young adults.

“The diversity of our projects reflects the ways housing, education, the labor market, child care and other broad systems intersect. This is why collaborative, interdisciplinary approaches to solutions are so vital,” Shaefer said.


Poverty Solutions workshop generates novel solutions for addressing Michigan’s debt collection crisis

Participants gather at the Innovation Workshop 2024: Debt hosted by Poverty Solutions and held Jan. 27-28, 2024, at the U-M School of Information. Photo by Jose Juarez | Michigan Photography

Contact: Malcolm Phelan, 484-587-0094,

ANN ARBOR – This past weekend at “Innovation Workshop 2024: Debt,” more than 50 lawyers, policymakers, students, and coders from around the country convened over two days to tackle the pressing issue of debt collection and its impact on Michigan’s families and legal system. Teams, led through a design-thinking framework, developed over 20 new approaches for reining in predatory debt collection, lessening the barrage of filings on local court systems, and providing information and resources to low-income Michiganders facing debt-related lawsuits. 

Participants designed and prototyped ideas including an online “chat-bot” that would provide automated texts to defendants alerting them about critical court dates and offering referrals to legal aid organizations. Another concept was a computer application for court systems that could scan filings from debt collectors to ensure that the debt was legally owed. Many more concepts were designed and will continue to be explored by participants and participating organizations.

Participants share ideas at the Innovation Workshop 2024: Debt hosted by Poverty Solutions and held Jan. 27-28, 2024, at the U-M School of Information. Photo by Malcolm Phelan

Matt Andres, clinical professor of law at University of Michigan and chair of the Justice for All Commission Debt Collection Working Group, said: “Over 200,000 debt collection cases are filed in Michigan courts annually, and most of them result in a judgment for the creditor without a hearing ever taking place. Experts in Michigan and throughout the country have done some great work in the last few years on improving the fairness and legitimacy of how debt is collected through the courts. The Innovation Workshop brought many of those experts together in the same room with smart, creative students from a variety of disciplines in a well-structured problem-solving process. The out-of-the-box thinking the workshop encouraged yielded innovative ideas for products and policies that could be game changers for Michiganders facing the harsh consequences of debt.”

The event was hosted by U-M’s Poverty Solutions initiative. Trevor Bechtel, strategic projects manager at Poverty Solutions, said: “Poverty is a set of interlinking systems that don’t work for people facing economic insecurity. Debt can be one of the most challenging and pernicious barriers to prosperity, so we were delighted to see the ideas and energy generated by this event around this critical issue.”

Malcolm Phelan, the Michigan Law student who organized the event, said: “It was inspiring to see so many students and professionals excited to spend a full weekend working together to address the critical issue of debt collection in Michigan. The goal was to bring together practitioners who have spent decades working on these issues with coders, designers, and policy researchers who could bring new technologies and ideas to the effort. Based on the thoughtful and innovative solutions that were produced, the event was a resounding success.”

Participants listen to Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Welch at the Innovation Workshop 2024: Debt hosted by Poverty Solutions and held Jan. 27-28, 2024, at the U-M School of Information. Photo by Malcolm Phelan

The event was facilitated by Scott TenBrink, assistant director of civic engagement and lecturer at U-M’s School of Information, and Bridgette Carr, clinical professor of law at Michigan Law School. Presenters and participants included Justice Elizabeth Welch, former Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court Bridget McCormack, Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit, state Sen. Jeff Irwin, as well as participants from national organizations such as the Aspen Institute, the Pew Foundation, the Legal Services Corporation, the American Arbitration Association, and the Princeton Debt Collection Lab. Michigan organizations included Detroit Justice Center, Michigan Poverty Law Program, and Legal Services of South Central Michigan. Student participants joined from U-M Schools of Law, Public Policy, Social Work, and Computer Science and Engineering as well as Michigan State University College of Law and Georgetown Law School. The event was sponsored by Michigan State University’s Center for Law, Technology & Innovation, the American Arbitration Association, and U-M’s School of Information.

SummerWorks seeks Washtenaw County employers, mentors to invest in future workforce

SummerWorks participants gather at an end-of-summer celebration on Aug. 17, 2023, at Washtenaw Community College. Photo by Doug Coombe

Contact: Kathleen Clancey, 

WASHTENAW COUNTY – Washtenaw County’s summer youth employment program is seeking local employers and professionals to provide paid internships and mentorship to teens and young adults. 

Since 2016, SummerWorks has offered 10-week paid summer internships to young adults ages 16 to 24 who live in Washtenaw County. In the past, the summer youth employment program has facilitated about 80 internship placements each year, and this year the program aims to grow to 130 internship placements.  

“We continue to see an increased demand from young adults in our community. They are eager to gain experience and develop professionally,” said Kathleen Clancey, program manager for SummerWorks, which is run by the University of Michigan, Michigan Works! Southeast, Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development, and Michigan Rehabilitation Services.

“SummerWorks is a life-changing opportunity for so many youth and young adults in Washtenaw County,” said Shamar Herron, executive director of Michigan Works! Southeast. “The program is game changing. It teaches all aspects of employment from essential/soft skill development to how to engage in what often is a first employment opportunity. SummerWorks provides the foundation for youth to confidently explore and land in career opportunities right here in our community. We work diligently at Michigan Works! Southeast to positively affect our economies and create connections to a better future.”

Young adults are paid $15 to $17 an hour during their internships, depending on high school completion status. Employers from all fields are welcome to host an intern, as youth have varied interests. Through a collaboration with Advance Ypsi, SummerWorks aims to increase the number of mobility-focused and technology-related internship placements this year. Local employers who want to host a SummerWorks internship will need to commit $3,000 to $3,400 to fund the position. Employers can apply for financial support to subsidize a SummerWorks internship. 

The deadline to apply to host a SummerWorks intern is March 17. Potential employers and mentors who want to learn more about the program can register for an upcoming informational session, which include virtual and in-person options between Feb. 9 and March 13. 

SummerWorks participants gather at an end-of-summer celebration on Aug. 17, 2023, at Washtenaw Community College.

SummerWorks participants gather at an end-of-summer celebration on Aug. 17, 2023, at Washtenaw Community College. Photo by Doug Coombe

SummerWorks employers receive tips and support for recruiting and retaining Generation Z workers. Employers have the opportunity to engage in optional sessions focused on how to engage interns in meaningful ways, how to bring DEI practices into their workplaces, and how to promote inclusive mentorship. On the flipside, youth involved in the program receive professional development to improve essential skills such as resume writing, interviewing, and professionalism in the workplace. This summer, Washtenaw County’s new Financial Empowerment Center will be involved in some of the workshops for youth focusing on budgeting, taxes, and overall financial wellness.

In addition to internships and professional development, SummerWorks also facilitates mentorships for youth who are interested. Local professionals can apply to be a mentor to help youth explore career opportunities, build their professional networks, and develop job and leadership skills. 

Mentors should commit to meeting with their mentee once a week for the duration of the summer program. Meetings can be virtual, and SummerWorks would like to attract a diverse group of mentors from a variety of professional, educational, and personal backgrounds. SummerWorks also provides support and guidance for mentors on how to facilitate the mentorship relationship. The deadline to apply to be a mentor is March 17. 

SummerWorks participants gather at an end-of-summer celebration on Aug. 17, 2023, at Washtenaw Community College.

SummerWorks participants gather at an end-of-summer celebration on Aug. 17, 2023, at Washtenaw Community College. Photo by Doug Coombe

“This gave me a bit more experience of what it would be like in the workforce. It was my first job experience,” said David Chen, a 2023 SummerWorks participant. “I learned a lot about how to act in the work environment and networking and personal finance.”

“[SummerWorks is a] beautiful program, it’s well needed because parents can’t teach us everything we’ve learned here,” said Tierra Patterson, a 2023 SummerWorks participant regarding the value of SummerWorks. 

Young adults interested in SummerWorks must apply by March 24. The application should take between 10-15 minutes to complete, and the link and more information can be found at 


5 things to know about Flint Rx Kids

Rx Kids launch press conference on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024, at Hurley Medical Center in Flint. From left to right: Mama Sol, Ridgway White, Luke Shaefer, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Flint mom, Alana Turner, Mona Hanna-Attisha, Teresa Woodruff, Sheldon Neeley, a Flint mom, Day Austin, and Jim Ananich. (Courtesy of Governor Whitmer’s office)

Contact: Karissa Knapp,

Flint, MI – Today City of Flint pregnant moms and newborns can start enrolling in Rx Kids, the first citywide maternal and infant cash prescription program in the nation. Joined by Mayor Sheldon Neeley, Michigan State University Interim President Teresa Woodruff, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation President Ridgway White, and Rx Kids families and newborns, Governor Gretchen Whitmer kicked off the historic launch at Hurley Children’s Hospital in Flint.

“This will give every new mom in Flint the freedom and flexibility to raise their babies without worrying about how to pay their bills and put food on the table … I do believe that this is… the kind of investment that you can see return on over the course of a lifetime. I believe this particular investment is one that others will seek to emulate when they see the difference it can make,” said Whitmer.

Rx Kids is led by partners Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, associate dean for public health and C. S. Mott Endowed Professor of Public Health at MSU College of Human Medicine, and Luke Shaefer, director of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan and the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy. Rx Kids will help families make ends meet and provide a solid start for their child.

>> Read more about the press conference

Here are five things to know about the Flint Rx Kids program:

1. What is Flint Rx Kids?

Rx Kids is a program that “prescribes” cash payments to every expectant mother and infant in the city of Flint, Michigan, with the goal of improving infant and maternal health, the economic and mental well-being of participants, and community-wide outcomes.

2. Who is eligible, and what will they receive?

City of Flint residents who are at least 20 weeks pregnant or who have a baby born in 2024 can apply to receive these no-strings-attached monthly payments. Applications are processed on a rolling basis, and participants will receive a $1,500 payment during pregnancy and $500 per month during the infant’s first year. There are no income requirements. Documents applicants will need to provide include: proof of identity, proof of residency, and proof of being 20+ weeks pregnant or guardianship. Learn more and apply online at

3. What does the research say about the impact of unconditional cash assistance?

Hundreds of studies show that unconditional cash transfers can be life-changing across countries and contexts. Mothers and babies are no different, and early intervention is shown to have sustained health and development impacts years after cash is delivered. Multiple studies have found positive impacts of cash on pre and post natal health, including: birth weight, premature births, breastfeeding, parental mental health, and food security. New research also shows that $333 monthly cash transfers to families with low incomes boosted infants’ early cognitive development. Furthermore, these impacts can last into adulthood. Years after their moms received cash transfers, adult children experienced benefits across health, education, nutrition, lifetime earnings, and reduced anxiety and depression.

4. Where is the money coming from?

Thanks to our incredible funders, Flint Rx Kids has raised over $43 million as a public-private partnership. This includes an $15 million challenge grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, a $1 million allocation from the Flint City Council’s American Rescue Plan Act funds, and $16.5 million from the State of Michigan’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant (TANF), among other donors. The hope is to have the program run as long as possible; current funding commitments will enable the program for at least three years. A $55 million total investment is needed to fund five years of Rx Kids. Please visit the Rx Kids website for more information on funding and how you can help.

5. How do I stay in the loop about Flint Rx Kids?

Check out the news page on the Flint Rx Kids website for the latest stories. You can follow Flint Rx Kids on Facebook and Instagram. Finally, save the date for the “The All We Need is Love” Rx Kids Launch Bash on Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre, in Flint. More details to come!

For questions about Rx Kids, please visit their FAQ page and/or email

Enrollment Open: Flint Makes History with Launch of Rx Kids


FLINT, Mich. – On January 10, 2024, at 10 am, City of Flint pregnant moms and newborns will start enrolling in Rx Kids, the first citywide maternal and infant cash prescription program in the nation.

Joined by Mayor Sheldon Neeley, Michigan State University Interim President Teresa Woodruff, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation President Ridgway White, and Rx Kids families and newborns, Governor Gretchen Whitmer will kick off the historic launch at a 10:30 am press conference at Hurley Children’s Hospital. Flint musical icon Mama Sol will perform the world premiere of her new composition live, honoring the landmark program.

Rx Kids will begin to enroll every pregnant mom and newborn in the City of Flint – with no income restrictions or strings attached – empowering parents with the freedom and choice to make the decisions that best fit their families’ needs. Every mom will receive $1,500 during mid-pregnancy for food, prenatal care, rent, cribs, or whatever they need. After birth, families will receive $500/month for the baby’s first twelve months they can spend on needs such as formula, diapers, or childcare. The program holds the promise to eradicate deep poverty among families with infants in Flint.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha.
Photo: Courtesy of MSU

Led by Flint pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, Associate Dean for Public Health in the College of Human Medicine and Director of the Michigan State University-Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, Rx Kids is a prescription for health, hope, and opportunity.

“This first-in-the-nation initiative boldly reimagines how society supports families and children—how we care for each other,” says Dr. Mona. “Rx Kids embodies Flint’s can-do spirit of not only dreaming but also making what seems impossible a reality to ensure that every child will flourish. Rx Kids is powered by science and driven by community.”

Why Flint? The poorest city in the state and one of the poorest in the country, almost 70% of kids in Flint are growing up in poverty – 5x the U.S. average. Every year, around 1,200 children are born in Flint to families, many facing severe hardships. The prenatal and first months of life are critical for a baby’s current and lifelong health and development; it is also when families struggle most financially.

“Investing in strong families is an investment in Flint’s future,” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. “Thanks to Dr. Mona, Flint is leading the way on a transformational model of care for families that I hope will spread across our nation. Rx Kids will support mothers and children in Flint when they are most vulnerable. This blessing will lift families out of poverty and improve health outcomes. Our prayer is that we will improve maternal and infant health, and help Flint families raise strong, healthy babies.”

City of Flint residents who are pregnant or have a baby born as of January 1, 2024, can complete the brief mom-tested application online at beginning January 10, 2024, at 10 am. To sign up, participants need only verify identity, residency, and pregnancy (at least 20 weeks) or guardianship. After verification, participants will receive a message outlining what to expect next. Cash prescriptions will begin at the point of enrollment. Enrollment support, including chat and call center information, and FAQs are available at

Rx Kids was developed in partnership with Flint parents, community organizations, and national experts. In addition to the MSU-Hurley Pediatric Public Health Initiative, Rx Kids partner organizations include University of Michigan Poverty Solutions, Greater Flint Health Coalition, and program administrator, GiveDirectly.

“For more than 13 years, GiveDirectly has helped give unconditional cash transfers to people in need across the country and around the world — we look forward to bringing that expertise to support families in Flint,” said GiveDirectly U.S. Country Director Dustin Palmer. “Research shows that cash support during pregnancy and infancy results in healthier pregnancies, improved early childhood development, and even sustained impacts into adulthood.”

As the first citywide program, robust research will evaluate the impact of Rx Kids on participant health and community-wide outcomes. Rx Kids aims to impact economic stability, housing and food security, health care utilization, maternal and infant health outcomes, child welfare, and family well-being and stress. Other potential impacts include community reinvestment, neighborhood safety, civic engagement, population stability, and societal savings.

Luke Shaefer, Poverty Solutions director

Luke Shaefer, Director of Poverty Solutions

Rx Kids co-director, H. Luke Shaefer, professor of public policy and director of Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan, highlighted the power of a transformational community-driven initiative that builds on worldwide evidence. “Countries across the globe have adopted unconditional child cash benefits and seen child poverty plummet and health improve, with some of the biggest impacts for infants. The historic 2021 expanded Child Tax Credit had the same effects in the U.S., but it was not renewed. Flint is leading the nation by building on this evidence, and creating an easy-to-replicate playbook for how we care for our youngest kids.”

A community-wide celebration of the Rx Kids is planned for Valentine’s Day (February 14, 2024). Free family-friendly activities and resources will be held at the Flint Children’s Museum from 10 am-4 pm. A love-filled evening Launch Bash at the iconic Capitol Theatre, produced by BeatsXBeers, will feature local and national talent including Flint Institute of Music, Mama Sol, David Blight, Semaj Brown, Feimstro, and more. For more information, tickets, and sponsorship opportunities, visit

A public-private partnership, Rx Kids is made possible thanks to major support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the State of Michigan. Other founding funders include the Skyline Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation, City of Flint, Doris Duke Foundation, Jamie and Denise Jacob Family Foundation/Ajax Paving, Michigan Health Endowment Fund, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, Children’s Foundation, HAP CareSource, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Mott Children’s Health Center Roy Peterson Fund and Jeremy and Amy Piper Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Hurley Foundation, Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation, and the generosity of individual donors. The project is estimated to cost $55 million for five years of newborns; over $43 million has been raised to date.

To learn more about Rx Kids, visit and @FlintRxKids on Facebook and Instagram.

News release courtesy of Michigan State University.

New Michigan landscape map highlights counties affected hardest by opioid epidemic

Contact: Cole Dzubak,

Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan and the Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network (OPEN) have partnered together to create a landmap of Michigan that shows demographic information with a connection to Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). This landscape map, and accompanying white paper, look at data such as unemployment rates, annual income, opioid-related hospitalizations, as well as physical and mental health and well-being.

To create this landscape map, Poverty Solutions and OPEN used available data from sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, among others. 

Luke Shaefer profile photo

Luke Shaefer

“Substance abuse is a complex medical issue with ties to mental health, lack of social infrastructure, and limited economic mobility. Analyzing multiple indicators related to opioid use, access to medical care, and poverty provides new insights into the causes and consequences of Michigan’s opioid epidemic,” said H. Luke Shaefer, faculty director of Poverty Solutions and the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy at the Ford School of Public Policy.

Along with documenting different demographics, the new landscape map also highlights three county clusters that have been especially affected by the opioid epidemic. The Bay County cluster includes Genesee, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Iosco, and Alcona counties. The Marquette County region includes the Marquette, Baraga, Dickinson, Delta, and Menominee counties. The Wayne-Macomb-St.Clair County cluster includes Wayne, Macomb, and St. Clair counties.

“This tool will allow us, and other organizations, to focus our programs, education, and resources on the counties that need them most. This new landscape map is a helpful next step in reducing the impact of the opioid crisis,” said Dr. Chad Brummett, co-director of both OPEN and the University of Michigan Opioid Research Institute. 

Through researching and analyzing the data sets collected, these three clusters were found to be some of the highest ranked areas in the state for opioid-related connections. Counties in the Bay County cluster rank amongst the highest in the state for opioid-related hospitalizations, opioid-related emergency department visits, and opioid prescribing. Counties in the Wayne-Macomb-St. Clair County cluster rank amongst the highest in the state for opioid-related hospitalizations and opioid-related emergency department visits. Counties in the Marquette County cluster rank amongst the highest in the state for opioid prescribing. Together, these clusters hold four of the top five counties in the state in terms of rates of admission for opioid treatment.

John Bulat

John Bulat

With the completion of this project, the teams at both Poverty Solutions and OPEN hope that organizations will be able to look at this data and discover ways to engage further with their communities and reduce the impact of the opioid epidemic. 

“There are many great organizations throughout the state making positive contributions to the fight against opioid use disorder. As the opioid crisis continues to evolve and the number of fatal opioid overdoses continues to rise, it’s our hope that maps and reports like these can provide new insights into the problem at hand and supplement the work that is already being done,” added John Bulat, data and policy analyst with Poverty Solutions who worked on the opioid landscape map and analysis.


Mapping poverty in America: Shaefer’s new book explores “The Injustice of Place”

Contact: Daniel Rivkin,

America is rife with “internal colonies,” where systemic violence, resource extraction, and corruption among decision makers have contributed to generations of poverty and disadvantage. These communities suffer from environmental degradation, lack of services, and shortened life expectancy, and they are spread across a wide swath of the country: from Appalachia, to the Tobacco Belt of Virginia and the Carolinas, the Cotton Belt in the South, and South Texas.

These areas are the focus of a new book by the Ford School’s Luke Shaefer, The Injustice of Place: Uncovering the Legacy of Poverty in America, (Harper Collins, August 2023) which links economic data, health outcomes, and local history and traditions. Shaefer, the Hermann and Amalie Kohn Professor of Social Justice and Social Policy and director of Poverty Solutions, co-authored the book with Kathryn Edin, a sociology professor, and Timothy Nelson, director of undergraduate studies in sociology, both at Princeton.

Shaefer and Edin previously collaborated on $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America (Mariner Books, 2016), which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

The places highlighted in The Injustice of Place were identified by an Index of Deep Disadvantage developed by Shaefer, Edin, and Nelson. The index represents a holistic look at disadvantage, using health indicators (life expectancy, low infant birth weight), poverty metrics (rates of poverty and deep poverty), and social mobility data (Opportunity Insights Mobility Metrics).

The researchers found most of the 100 most disadvantaged places in the country are rural, not inner cities. They have spent years immersing themselves in communities in these regions, getting to know the residents.

  • The communities they studied have common traits of unequal schooling, resource extraction, corruption, and bad governance.
  • Among the similarities the authors present:
  • When disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, or floods strike, governmental assistance often deepens pre-existing divides, benefitting the “haves” and not the “have-nots.”
  • Many people think of rural America as predominantly white — but the most disadvantaged places in the nation are rural communities of color.
  • Americans living in disadvantaged communities can expect to die a decade earlier than those living in the most advantaged places.
  • In many rural places with the most significant levels of disadvantage, the rate of violent crime is equal to that of large cities like Chicago.

“We are now armed with new revelations about poverty and a new understanding of how deeply disadvantage is woven into the history and present-day fabric of particular places,” they write. The book “tells the stories of America’s internal colonies – where disadvantage has been endemic for generations – and calls us to envision a different future, where no corner of the country is left behind.”

See reviews of the book:

A powerful, alarming portrayal of how poverty remains entrenched in unfairly forgotten places across America, Kirkus Reviews

In America’s “internal colonies,” the poor die far younger than richer Americans, CBS News

Publishers Weekly

U-M researchers to examine Michigan’s approach to criminal justice reform

Daniel Rivkin,
Jeff Karoub,

ANN ARBOR—In the wake of racial justice movements across the country, the state of Michigan and some of its communities have been implementing new public safety and criminal justice policies.

The perspective of Michigan’s local government, public safety and prosecutorial officials on factors associated with openness to, and adoption of, racial justice and other public safety policies, as well as insights on police-community relations in local communities, will be the focus of a new two-year study being by the University of Michigan’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) and Poverty Solutions.

The effort, funded by a grant from the Joyce Foundation, will gather those perspectives through a set of surveys of local government leaders, chiefs of police and sheriffs, and prosecuting attorneys across Michigan. The multipronged project will be based on CLOSUP’s long-standing Michigan Public Policy Survey of local government leaders, which has been conducted since 2009 and comprises the leaders of 1,856 counties, cities, townships and villages across the state.

“Real change will require support from front line local officials and other community-level actors,” said Tom Ivacko, CLOSUP executive director. “How much and where is the political will to embrace or enact change? What barriers to change exist in which kinds of communities? These are the questions we will be probing.

“We look forward to addressing issues like police-community relations, inequitable policing and criminal justice practices, and exploring the potential for cooperation on reform among various local political actors

The project’s data collection will consist of three parallel surveys: one for all the top elected and appointed local government leaders; one for top public safety officers in local law enforcement agencies; and another of county prosecutors. The Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPSS) previously asked about local policing in its 2015 survey wave.

“The Joyce Foundation is supporting this effort because we believe it will surface critical answers to important questions about the future of public safety in Michigan and help shape a way forward for advocates, community groups, researchers and policymakers to address the public safety challenges ahead,” said Quintin Williams, program officer for Gun Violence Prevention and Justice Reform at the Joyce Foundation.

Mara Ostfeld, a CLOSUP faculty affiliate and research director of the Center for Racial Justice, said the project will provide critical insights into the political opportunities and challenges that different reforms may face, and allow for a more informed strategy to building stronger police-community relations.

“While the data gathered are specific to Michigan, the lessons will be valuable across the region and the U.S., as Michigan serves as a national microcosm with a wide range of communities: wealthy and low-income, urban and rural, racially homogeneous and heterogeneous, and more,” she said.

While the project will gather opinions and perspectives of key actors along the public safety and criminal justice continuum, it seeks engagement with stakeholders of all kinds.

“We will consult widely with community and state-level reform advocates, state and local officials, academic researchers, and others, during the planning phases to ensure the survey designs are based on broad and diverse input,” said Debra Horner, MPPS senior program manager. “We believe the insights provided by local leaders and public safety officials will help sharpen understanding of what kinds of reform may be possible in what community contexts.”

The outputs of the two-year effort will be targeted to inform a wide range of stakeholders, including the general public and the media, but especially Michigan local government leaders themselves, including the survey respondents, state and federal policymakers, leaders of public safety agencies, county prosecutors, nonprofit advocacy organizations, students, researchers and others interested in criminal justice and related issues.

The project will produce a series of rich datasets, analyses, reports, infographics, web-based data resources, social media outreach, mass media coverage, and presentations to inform key stakeholders about current issues in local policing and criminal justice and opportunities for reform. It will also provide robust survey questionnaires for future use in assessing change over time.