News Releases

League forum brings hundreds of residents together to discuss solutions to poverty and racial inequity in Michigan

For Immediate Release: October 10, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman

League issues new report on race and education in conjunction with event

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy held its annual policy forum today, Race, Poverty and Policy: Creating an Equitable Michigan, bringing together more than four hundred residents and state and national experts from advocacy, business, government and media.

The current national climate on race, the Flint water crisis, the ongoing struggles of Detroit Public Schools and other recent policies that have made it painfully clear that policymakers, advocates and residents needed to have an honest discussion about race equity and statewide policy change. The forum included a keynote address by Rinku Sen, president and executive director of Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation, followed by five breakout sessions to discuss challenges and possible solutions to racial inequity and poverty in Michigan. Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician whose discovery of elevated lead levels in Flint’s children made policymakers address the Flint water crisis, was honored with the League’s Champion for Kids Award at the forum today.

“Race is not easy or comfortable to talk about, and that’s exactly why we decided to make it the focus of our policy forum this year,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “If we’re going to address and work to resolve systemic racism in Michigan, we need to address it head-on and have a unified front between elected officials, advocates, journalists and residents to address it, and that’s what we’ve tried to do today.”

In conjunction with today’s event, the League also released a new report, Race, place & policy matter in education. The report exposes deep disparities in educational opportunities for Michigan children based on income, race and geography that stem from poor state budget and policy decisions that have widespread economic and generational repercussions.

Students of color are more likely to be economically disadvantaged, due in part to their parents’ lack of economic and educational opportunities. Race appears to play a role in school discipline practices, reading proficiency, high school graduation, college-readiness and attainment, and finally lower levels of employment and earnings as adults.

“As our work finds time and again, there are racial disparities in nearly every area of public policy—health, reading proficiency, school suspensions and expulsions, college attainment and student debt, incarceration rates, employment and income,” Jacobs said. “It’s time for policymakers to stop arguing about causes and instead agree that these disparities are wrong and bad for us all, taking responsibility that they all must come together to pursue solutions. These inequities are caused by decades of bad policy decisions that continue today and will keep affecting each subsequent generation until systemic changes are made.”

The League continues to focus both its mission and work on racial inequity as well as poverty, examining all policies through a race equity lens. In addition to the report released today, some other recent materials produced by the League that examine racial disparities in different policy areas include: an analysis of Census poverty data, the Back to School Report on rising tuition and student debt, a fact sheet on income inequality and a review of the 2017 state budget.


NOTE: Diverse experts and interested parties from around the state participated in four panel discussions and one workshop as part of today’s forum. The sessions and participants were:

Solutions for Cities in Crisis: Moderated by Regina Bell, W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Panelists are Donnell White, Detroit Branch NAACP; Nayyirah Shariff, Flint Rising; and Stacey Stevens, Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.

Government’s Role in Achieving Race Equity: Moderated by State Representative Erika Geiss. Panelists are Jorge Zeballos, Center for Diversity and Innovation at Kellogg Community College; Al Vanderberg, Ottawa County, which is a member of the national Government Alliance on Race Equity (GARE); and Martha Gonzalez-Cortes, Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

The Next Move: Taking Equitable Action for Change (Workshop): Presenters include Peter Hammer, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights; eliza q. perez-ollin, Detroit Equity Lab; Kate Baker, Detroit Historical Society; and Lisa Leverette, Community Connections Grant Program and Lower Eastside Community Grant Program.

From Watchdog to Dog-Whistle: Media’s Role in Reporting on Race: Moderated by Martina Guzmán, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights Race and Journalism Fellow at Wayne State University. Panelists are Dr. José Flores, La Voz Magazine; Judy Putnam, Lansing State Journal; Rochelle Riley, Detroit Free Press; and Michelle Srbinovich, general manager of WDET FM.

The Business Case for Racial Equity: Moderated by Alfredo Hernandez, Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance. Panelists are Don Jones, New Economy Initiative; Jason D. Lee, Focus: HOPE; Abe Carillo, Herman Miller; and Sharon Darby, Cascade Engineering.

The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Passage of third-grade reading bill good start, broader efforts to address poverty still needed

Contact: Alex Rossman

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the Michigan Legislature’s passage of third-grade reading legislation today. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“This effort to improve third-grade reading in Michigan has been challenging, but the final compromise passed today keeps the needs of Michigan students and their families at the forefront. While there are areas that still could be improved with this bill, we appreciate the diligence of lawmakers to see this bill come to fruition and to thoughtfully work on an agreement that is largely positive. We are pleased to see the number of exemptions, including empowering parents, as well as early and ongoing interventions and extra support for English language learners.

“Literacy is the cornerstone of all other learning through school and into the workforce, and Michigan’s third-grade reading numbers have been declining for too long. This bill will help turn things around and get Michigan students back on track. While this addresses one part of the equation of Michigan’s faltering education outcomes, more targeted efforts are needed to address poverty and hunger, which significantly affect learning for kids of all ages and grades.”


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

League applauds action to improve third-grade reading

Contact: Alex Rossman

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on today’s action on third-grade reading legislation. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“The League supports this effort to improve Michigan kids’ reading proficiency and their overall path to becoming lifelong learners. We know how important literacy is to not only educational achievement, but to overall well-being into adulthood, and we are pleased to finally see action on this critical issue for kids and to help Michigan become a top ten state in education. We maintain our concerns with mandatory retention, but while this bill may not be perfect, that is the nature of compromise. We are pleased with the number of exemptions, including the ability of a parent to make the request. The bill contains many other positive provisions, such as early and ongoing interventions to help students struggling, and is ultimately a strong step in addressing this issue.”


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Census data shows Flint and Detroit poverty worst in nation, people of color still struggling statewide

Contact: Alex Rossman

Michigan’s economic “recovery” still dependent on zip code, skin color

LANSING—Data released by the United States Census Bureau today shows that Flint and Detroit have the highest poverty rates of comparable cities in the United States and that Michiganians of color are struggling, issues the Michigan League for Public Policy has been working hard to address.

Detroit’s poverty rate of 39.8 percent and Flint’s poverty rate of 40.8 percent were the highest in the nation for cities of their size. Flint’s median income for 2015 was $25,342, and Detroit’s was $25,980, both less than half of the statewide median household income.

For 2015 statewide, Michigan’s median household income increased 2.4 percent from 2014 to $51,084. The state’s overall poverty rate dropped .4 percent to 15.8 percent and the child poverty rate dropped from 23.7 percent to 22.4 percent. These figures are slightly higher than the national poverty rates of 14.7 percent overall and 20.7 for children.

“Michigan’s economic improvement is in the eye of the beholder and too many people in our state are still not seeing any relief,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Reducing poverty and improving incomes for Detroit and Flint residents and people of color will benefit all of our communities and businesses. Talking about these geographic and racial disparities is a start, but the real need is for quick and thoughtful action by lawmakers to doing something about them.”

For poverty, today’s Census data reinforced the continued racial disparities in Michigan. Across Michigan in 2015, the poverty rates for people of color were: 32.9 percent for Blacks or African-Americans, 25.2 percent for American Indians or Alaskan Natives, 23.8 percent for Hispanics or Latinos and 14.9 percent for Asians. These were all higher than the 12.3 percent poverty rate for Whites in Michigan.

The median income for Whites in Michigan in 2015 was $54,775, nearly $4,000 more than the state’s overall median income. For Hispanics/Latinos, the median income was $13,000 less than whites at $41,844. For Blacks/African-Americans, it was even worse, with a median income of $31,099, more than $23,000 lower than Whites.

With the lead poisoning disaster in Flint and the physical and fiscal conditions of Detroit Public Schools, the League took an in-depth look at Michigan’s Cities in Crisis and made policy recommendations to state government on how to support Flint, Detroit and other cities.

Today’s Census data reinforces the need to also take action on statewide policies lawmakers can pass to reduce poverty and improve economic equity for all include:

  • Working to make college more affordable, especially for older workers and individuals raising families;
  • Eliminating the asset limit for food assistance;
  • Enacting earned sick leave for all workers;
  • Improving investment in child care, education and state support services; and
  • Restoring Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and expanding the federal EITC to low-wage workers not raising children.

Reports on all of these issues can be found at


The Census released data earlier this week on healthcare coverage, which was a significant bright spot for Michigan. Thanks to Medicaid expansion through the Healthy Michigan Plan and other healthcare reforms, 475,000 more Michiganians had health insurance in 2015. That was a 44% drop in the number of Michigan residents without health insurance from 2013. But despite the Healthy Michigan Plan’s continued success, state lawmakers cut outreach funding in the 2017 budget that stands to hurt the program’s efforts.

The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.


League says Great Start report underscores need for urgent action to invest in, improve child care

Contact: Alex Rossman

Lawmakers have 16 days—and three session days—to act before $20M in federal child care dollars disappears

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy continued its push for greater investment in child care, issuing the following statement on a new research report released today by the Michigan Department of Education-Office of Great Start and Public Sector Consultants, Inc. The statement can be attributed to Michigan League for Public Policy President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“This report was commissioned by state government, and hopefully that means its findings will light a fire under state policymakers. Lawmakers need to start by immediately acting to keep the $20 million in federal funding set to vanish in September because of a failure to invest sufficient state dollars. And then they need to look at how we can have a child care system where struggling families are receiving little to no help and child care workers are on public assistance while parents are paying college-level child care costs.

“Child care affects kids and parents alike, our family lives and our work lives, and it has been a top priority in both our Kids Count work and our budget and tax policy efforts. We believe this report will help set a vision for child care in Michigan and hope that policymakers, employers and parents will support the expansions needed to keep Michigan’s economy growing and provide economic opportunity and stability for all families with young children.”


According to the League’s Kids Count in Michigan Data Book 2016, nearly 1 in every 4 children in Michigan live in poverty (22.6 percent) and child poverty increased in 80 of 83 counties from 2006 to 2014. The Kids Count research also found that 67 percent of young children (ages 0-5) had both parents in the workforce, and on average, monthly child care consumed almost 40 percent of 2015 minimum wage earnings.

Other League research has found that most child care providers are very low-wage workers, and many qualify for public assistance themselves, the cost of child care often far exceeds the means of low- and even moderate-wage workers. The cost of child care for two children in a high-quality center in Michigan exceeds the average mortgage and cost of college tuition.

Child care has been a prominent focus of the League’s policy work, with analyses in the following briefs and reports:

Press statement on jeopardized federal funding: 2017 budget includes big victories and missed opportunities

2017 Budget Brief: The 2017 state budget fails to protect all children and families and perpetuates economic disparities

2017 Budget Brief: Michigan needs to expand child care support to keep families working

2014 Report: Failure to invest in high-quality child care hurts children and state’s economy


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.


Michigan tuition costs double to sixth highest in U.S., state college funding down $262M since 2003

For Immediate Release
September 6, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman

Data shows 62 percent of Michigan college students graduate with debt, averaging $29,450; nationally, college debt worse for students and families of color

LANSING—Public university tuition in Michigan increased by 100-150 percent since 2003 and is the sixth highest tuition in the country according to a new Back to School Report released today by the Michigan League for Public Policy.

The report, Rising Tuition and Weak State Funding and Financial Aid Create More Student Debt, cites skyrocketing college costs, decreased state higher education funding, and reduced state financial aid in causing mounds of debt that will loom over students for decades to come. Between 2003 and 2016-2017, Michigan cut university funding by more than $262 million, a 30 percent decrease in public support after adjusting for inflation. State funding for need-based financial aid per full-time equivalent student has declined by 55 percent since 1992 when adjusted for inflation.

“As the college semester gets underway, too many students and families have had to take on a mountain of debt to get there or are being priced out of a higher education altogether,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “Over the last 13 years, public university tuition has drastically gone up while state funding for universities plummeted by almost a third, leaving students and families to foot the bill. Once again, Michigan is a national leader in a negative category—and one that runs counter to the political rhetoric of attracting and keeping talent.”

Michigan has the ninth highest average student debt level in the nation, with 62 percent of Michigan’s Class of 2014 graduating with debt averaging $29,450—$10,000 more than students in some other states. There is not racial data on student debt available at the state level, but the report shows that nationally African-American students and their families owe significantly more in student debt ($43,725) than individuals of other races, and that Latino parents and grandparents incur the most student debt on behalf of their children and grandchildren.

In the early 1990s, Michigan was among the top ten states in need-based financial aid spending, but is now in the bottom half in the country. The national average of state spending on need-based grants is $533 per full-time equivalent undergraduate student, yet Michigan spends only 42 percent of that amount ($223) and only one-quarter of what neighboring Indiana spends ($870). Michigan has also completely eliminated state financial aid for students over age 30 attending a public community college or university—a move in the wrong direction as an increasing number of college students are older, have families and work full-time jobs.

“Making college more affordable is an education issue, a workforce development issue and an economic issue,” Jacobs said. “Businesses want an educated workforce, and students and older workers need a postsecondary credential to improve their job prospects and individual earnings, both of which benefit our communities and economy. There are policies that can cut down on the cost of college—legislators just need to act on them.”

The Back to School Report concludes with policy recommendations to Michigan lawmakers on postsecondary education funding, including:

  • Restore and increase the state budget funding that has been cut from public universities and community colleges and implement stronger tuition restraint or tuition reduction requirements on the schools;
  • Make need-based financial aid grants available to older workers;
  • Ensure that there is financial aid help for students going to college less than half-time or who are in short-term programs; and
  • Support policies that can help alleviate hardship for low-income students, including policies that permit low-income students to receive public assistance such as cash assistance, food assistance or subsidized child care.

For more information on the League’s budget recommendations on higher education funding, especially for programs for older students, visit our Budget Briefs page. The League’s previous Labor Day Reports on workforce issues are available at


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Michigan income inequality 11th worst in nation, wealthiest 1% make 22 times more than rest of workers

For Immediate Release
July 26, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman

New League analysis to examine income inequality, severe impact on women and workers of color

LANSING—Michigan has the 11th worst income gap in the nation according to a new fact sheet, Time to End Income Inequality, issued today by the Michigan League for Public Policy. The fact sheet shows that the top 1% of Michigan’s earners make 22 times more than the bottom 99%.

“Instead of moving Michigan forward, a majority of state policies have been pulling Michigan apart, most noticeably with the widening income gap,” said Karen Holcomb-Merrill, vice president of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “While our state’s economy has recovered for some, poverty is still a major issue for many others—including those with full-time jobs. We are all for financial success, but lawmakers must make sure our public policies are fair to all and helping those with the greatest need. Right now, they’re not.”

After relatively similar growth for all income levels for 30 years, the fact sheet shows that from 1979 to 2007, incomes for the top 1% of workers increased 100%—while the rest of workers experienced an income decline of .2%. That created a huge income gap in Michigan that continues today. The richest residents’ share of Michigan’s total income has also grown dramatically. In 1979, the top 1% of Michigan households held about 9% of the total income in the state. By 2013, the top group’s income share had nearly doubled to 17.9%, while the rest of Michigan residents saw their incomes decline.

Michigan women and people of color are particularly hurt by the gap, with Michigan ranking among the worst nationally in gender pay disparities. According to the most recent data, annual median earnings for full-time working women in Michigan are $12,738 less than men, with women making 74.6 cents on the dollar earned by men in 2014. The most recent wage data available by race shows that in 2012, workers of color made $3 less per hour than white workers, and that racial disparities are unrelated to a worker’s education. The League will be producing a series of fact sheets on income inequality to look at these issues closer.

“Income inequality is obviously a pocketbook issue, but low wages negatively affect workers and their families in so many ways,” Holcomb-Merrill said. “Low incomes hurt the financial standing of future generations. Lower-wage earners are also less likely to have employer-sponsored healthcare and paid sick and family leave, and have greater difficulty saving for their retirement or a child’s college education. Michigan’s kids, workers, neighborhoods and economy will all benefit from greater income equality.”

With the League’s focus on translating data into policy change, the fact sheet also outlines recommendations for state policymakers to reduce income inequality, including:

  • Further raising the minimum wage or eliminating the tipped wage;
  • Expanding access to high-quality child care;
  • Enacting earned paid leave policies;
  • Restoring Michigan’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to 20% of the federal credit;
  • Expanding the Homestead Property Tax Credit;
  • Implementing a fairer income tax, such as a graduated income tax, and other equitable tax changes (Michigan’s lowest income earners pay nearly double the rate in total state and local taxes of the top 1%);
  • Improving K-12 education, especially for children at risk of educational failure;
  • Increasing adult education; and
  • Expanding access to post-secondary education.

The fact sheet utilizes national, state and local data recently released in a report by the Economic Policy Institute and Economic Analysis Research Network as well as income information from the Census’ American Community Survey and the National Equity Atlas.


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Statement: 2017 budget includes big victories and missed opportunities

Alex Rossman

LANSING—The Michigan League for Public Policy issued the following statement on the general omnibus budget bill signed by Governor Rick Snyder today. The League has also put together a full report analyzing the pros and cons of the 2017 budget, The 2017 State Budget Fails to Protect All Children and Families and Perpetuates Economic Disparities. The budget expands Healthy Kids Dental to all eligible kids in Kent, Oakland and Wayne counties, but failed to secure funding to fix the Heat and Eat policy that reduced federal support for many Michigan residents. By investing approximately $3 million in state funds, Michigan would have been able to draw down $140 million in federal dollars through Heat and Eat and restore approximately $76 per month in food assistance for 150,000 low-income households. The statement may be attributed to League President and CEO Gilda Z. Jacobs.

“The 2017 budget contains a mixed bag, and our reviews are equally mixed. After years of fighting for dental coverage for all kids in need in all parts of the state, we are extremely happy that the budget signed today includes long-awaited funding to expand dental coverage to around 131,000 low-income kids in Wayne, Oakland and Kent counties. We have inched closer and closer to achieving this each year, and it’s heartening for us and the people we are fighting for to see that patience and persistence can pay off.

“Other budget areas continued to miss the mark, yet again overlooking the Michiganians with the greatest needs. At a time when revenues are tight, we were optimistic that all opportunities to secure federal match dollars would be pursued, especially with such a minimal state investment needed. However, the inaction to resolve Michigan’s Heat and Eat issue cost the state around $140 million in federal funding and cost 150,000 households in Michigan, including seniors and people with disabilities, even more—the very food on their tables. And while this budget included a moderate increase to Michigan’s child care subsidy, it included no corresponding state investment, causing us to also lose millions in federal child care dollars. Michigan’s recovery is still leaving too many people behind, and unfortunately, the 2017 budget did as well. We are hopeful that legislators will reconsider these missed opportunities and act quickly to remedy them through supplemental funding.”


The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

Michigan improves in overall child well-being, drops to 10th worst state in nation for education

For Immediate Release
June 21, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman

National 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks Michigan 31st in country for kids; state ranks high for children’s health, poor for education performance and poverty

LANSING—Michigan dropped to 40th in the nation for children’s education, according to the 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book from the Annie. E. Casey Foundation. In Michigan, more than half of young children are not in preschool, 71 percent of fourth-graders are not proficient in reading, and 71 percent of eighth-graders are not proficient in math.

Michigan was ranked 31st overall in child well-being, up from 33rd in 2015. The state is still behind all other Great Lakes states: Minnesota (1st), Wisconsin (13th), Illinois (21st), Ohio (26th) and Indiana (30th).

The 2016 Data Book focuses on key trends in child well-being in the post-recession years, measuring child well-being at the national level and ranking states in four domains: economic well-being, education, health and family and community. For 2016, Michigan’s rankings were:

Overall: 31st (Up from 33rd in 2015)
Health: 14th (Up from 23rd in 2015)
Education: 40th (Down from 37th in 2015)
Economic Well-Being: 28th (Up from 33rd in 2015)
Family and Community: 29th (Ranked 29th in 2015 also)

“This data tells two different stories about Michigan kids—their health is improving thanks to a continued emphasis on policy changes, but education and poverty numbers continue to get worse without legislative action,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “As we measure ourselves against the rest of the nation, there is clearly much work to be done to offer better opportunities for our kids, and a big part of that is employing two-generation strategies to help improve the education and economic standing of their parents.”

Despite rising employment numbers and a so-called economic recovery in Michigan, 23 percent of children lived in poverty in 2014, which is higher than the national percentage and an increase since 2008. Almost 1 in 3 children, or 711,000 kids, live in families where no member of the household has full-time, year-round employment. This also worsened since 2008. While some are feeling relief post-Great Recession, the recovery has been uneven with low-income residents and people of color still struggling to make ends meet.

“From lead poisoning in Flint and the struggles in Detroit schools to the rampant poverty in our rural areas, Michigan policymakers need to make significant changes to better serve our kids,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “We already have legislation introduced in Michigan to improve access to early childhood education and improve third-grade reading, but we’re still doing poorly in those areas while these bills languish. Our kids can’t wait, and policymakers shouldn’t, either.”

While navigating their own family challenges, an increasing number of our young people are also growing up in neighborhoods that lack the resources and support services they need to thrive. Since 2006-2010, the percent of children living in high-poverty areas in Michigan increased to 17 percent, up from 14 percent. Only six states have a higher rate of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods. The percent of children living in poverty (23 percent) and whose parents lack secure employment (32 percent) both worsened over the last year.

Our country’s legacy of racial inequity means that children of color continue to face significant barriers to their success, and the data book numbers illustrate how bad these disparities have gotten. Children of color in Michigan are more likely to live in high-poverty areas, including 18 percent of American Indian, 55 percent of African-American and 30 percent of Latino children. Child poverty is also higher for kids of color (47 percent for African-Americans and 32 percent for Hispanics compared to 16 percent for White kids).

“With rising higher education costs, stagnant wages and a flimsy social safety net, teens are less likely than their parents or grandparents to obtain economic security,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. “For the sake of our economy and our society, we must reverse this trend to ensure that today’s youth—who will be the next generation of workers, parents and community leaders—have a successful transition to adulthood and beyond.”

Looking at Michigan’s poor academic numbers, they, too, are dramatically worse for kids of color. In 2015, for fourth-grade reading, 91 percent of African-American kids and 83 percent of Hispanic kids were not proficient, compared to 68 percent of White students. For eighth-grade math, 95 percent of African-Americans and 82 percent of Hispanic students were not proficient, compared to 66 percent of White students.

In the Data Book, the Casey Foundation offers a number of recommendations for how policymakers can ensure all children are prepared for the future, based on this country’s shared values of opportunity, responsibility and security. For Michigan specifically, the Michigan League for Public Policy makes the following policy recommendations to improve Michigan’s child well-being, and in turn, national stature:

  • Invest in communities to create safe neighborhoods, clean air and water, quality schools and adequate police and fire services;
  • Strengthen policies that support work, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, earned paid sick leave and workforce development opportunities;
  • Promote comprehensive strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect, including providing mental health and substance abuse services for parents;
  • Ensure access to affordable, quality child care; and
  • Adequately fund public schools, targeting resources in high-need areas and providing early interventions and services.

The Casey Foundation’s 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book is the national counterpoint to the Kids Count in Michigan Data Book the Michigan League for Public Policy releases each year. The national Data Book looks at national data and compares information and makes rankings for each state. The Michigan Data Book has state-level data and county-by-county data and rankings. The two reports work in concert to annually illustrate where child well-being stands in America, Michigan and in each county.

The 2016 Data Book is available at Additional information is available at, which also contains the most recent national, state and local data on hundreds of indicators of child well-being. The Data Center at allows users to create rankings, maps and graphs for use in publications and on websites, and to view real-time information on mobile devices.


The Kids Count in Michigan project is part of a broad national effort to improve conditions for children and their families. Funding for the project is provided by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Skillman Foundation, Steelcase Foundation, Frey Foundation, Michigan Education Association, American Federation of Teachers Michigan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Battle Creek Community Foundation, Fetzer Institute and Kalamazoo Community Foundation. More state and local data are available at the Kids Count Data Center,

The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. For more information, visit

Nearly half a million Michigan kids in need still missing out on summer meals

For Immediate Release
June 14, 2016

Contact: Alex Rossman

Report shows massive outreach needed to feed hungry kids, secure millions in federal funding

LANSING—Only about 1 in 8 low-income children in Michigan who need summer meals is accessing them according to a national report, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, released today by the Food Research & Action Center. In July 2015, 484,502 Michigan students who were eligible for the free or reduced-price meal program during the school year did not access the summer meals program. For the state, 70,286 low-income children received summer meals, a decrease of seven percent from the previous summer.

“We want to see a reversal of this trend and make sure that the kids in Michigan who need these meals are eating them,” said Gilda Z. Jacobs, president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy. “With child poverty still significantly high in Michigan, policymakers need to increase their efforts to promote and raise awareness of the Summer Nutrition Programs and work harder to reduce poverty for nearly half a million Michigan kids.”

The report is an annual analysis of data that measures the success of Summer Nutrition Programs at the national and state levels by comparing the number of children receiving summer meals to the number of low-income children receiving free or reduced-price school lunches during the regular school year. The school lunch data are a good proxy number for the extent of need in each state. By this measure, nearly 13 low-income children in Michigan ate summer meals for every 100 who ate school lunch during the regular school year. Nationally, the ratio was 15.8 kids per 100, down from last year’s ratio of 16.2 kids per 100.

Michigan’s summer nutrition participation rate for 2015 ranked 35th nationally, a drop four spots from its 2014 national ranking. At the same time that Michigan’s summer food participation rates declined, the number of Summer Food Service Program sponsors and sites both increased.

“Free and reduced-price school lunches and free summer meals are an important tool to help feed hungry kids, but the significant drop off after school’s out is alarming,” said Alicia Guevara Warren, Kids Count in Michigan project director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. “The number of kids in Michigan who need summer meals should be going down, not the number of children who need them and are not accessing them, and we need to work collaboratively at the local, state and federal level to address that. The programs are in place to provide these meals and significant federal funding is available—we just need to do more to inform kids, families and communities.”

There is still much room for improvement in Michigan. Low participation means missed meals for children and missed dollars for the state. If Michigan had reached 40 children with summer food for every 100 low-income children who get school lunch during the regular school year, Michigan would have fed an additional 151,629 low-income children every day in July 2015 and brought in $11,967,313 more federal dollars to do so.

“Greater participation in summer food means more low-income children get the fuel they need to thrive over the summer months,” said FRAC President Jim Weill. “That reduces hunger, boosts health, reduces obesity and keeps children primed to learn. Congress can better meet the need through the pending Child Nutrition Reauthorization by making strategic and thoughtful investments in the Summer Nutrition Programs that bolster their capacity to serve even more children.”

The Summer Nutrition Programs, which include the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program in the summer months, should be filling the food gap for the thousands of low-income Michigan children who rely on school breakfast and lunch during the school year to help keep hunger at bay. These programs provide free meals at participating summer sites at schools, parks, other public agencies and nonprofits for children under 18. Not only do children benefit from the free meals, but they also benefit from the enrichment activities that keep them learning and engaged. The best way to meet children’s needs over the summer is with healthy meals that are served in positive community environments while the children’s parents are working.

Additional information on child poverty and the number of kids eligible for free or reduced-price lunch during the school year, including county-specific data, can be found here:

Michigan families can find nearby summer meal sites here or by calling 517-373-3347.


About the report: Data for Michigan come from the June 2016 version of the annual report released by the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), the lead advocacy organization working to end hunger in America through stronger public policies. The FRAC report, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, gives 2014 and 2015 data for every state and looks at national and state trends. FRAC measures summer participation during the month of July, when typically almost all children are out of school throughout the month and lose access to regular school year meals. The report is available online at

The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) is the lead advocacy organization working to end hunger in America through stronger public policies. For more information, visit

The Michigan League for Public Policy,, is a nonprofit policy institute focused on economic opportunity for all. It is the only state-level organization that addresses poverty in a comprehensive way.

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