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Research & Reports

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Growth chart for the brain may pave the way for preventive early interventions


Researchers at Penn Medicine have generated a brain development index from MRI scans that captures the complex patterns of maturation during normal brain development. This index will allow clinicians and researchers for the first time to detect subtle, yet potentially critical early signs of deviation from normal development during late childhood to early adult.

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Program-related Investing for Nonprofits


For more than four decades, foundations in the U.S. have used program-related investments (PRIs) to address urgent societal needs ranging from housing, education, and health to community development, environment, and arts and culture. PRIs are investments made by foundations to support charitable activities, and, unlike grants, PRIs provide foundations a return on their investment through repayment or return on equity. According to the Ford Foundation, since their initial use in the 1960s, PRIs have helped organizations establish a loan repayment history, generate earned income, gain access to new funding, and develop new financial management history. As the world faces increasingly complex social and economic issues, there is renewed interest among foundations and philanthropists in harnessing the promise and potential of program-related investing to fulfill individual and community needs. 

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The Benefits of Florida's Test-Based Promotion System


State and municipal policymakers are increasingly addressing the practice of social promotion in schools—moving children along to the next grade whether or not they have mastered the curriculum—by mandating test-based grade promotion.

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A tiny town in Ohio tried paying kids to do better on state tests. Guess what happened.


I've been thinking a lot lately about standardized state tests. This fall, I spent about six weeks observing a classroom of third graders in Grand Rapids as they got ready to take their MEAP tests for the first time. 

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Food Banks: Hunger's New Strike


Feeding America member food banks have increasingly reported that many clients are no longer coming to their pantries only for short-term, emergency situations. Food assistance has become a staple for many people – those that need the extra help to make it through the month on a more consistent basis. This report, for the first time, confirms anecdotal reports from food banks by examining the reported patterns of service utilization from 61,000 client interviews nationwide captured in the 2010 Hunger in America study. 

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Norms and Trends of Sleep Time Among US Children and Adolescents

These are the results of a study examining the norms and trends of sleep time among US children and adolescents.

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Faces of Economic Mobility


This interactive data tool explores income and wealth mobility for 16 family types, providing a unique perspective on how education, family structure, and race affect Americans’ likelihood to do better or worse than their parents did financially. Only white and black respondents are included because of small sample sizes for other racial-ethnic groups in the Panel Study of Income Dyamics.

Users may click through the interactive to see where they stand based on the profile options selected.

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Language gap between rich and poor children begins in infancy, Stanford psychologists find


Fifty years of research has revealed the sad truth that the children of lower-income, less-educated parents typically enter school with poorer language skills than their more privileged counterparts. By some measures, 5-year-old children of lower socioeconomic status score more than two years behind on standardized language development tests by the time they enter school.

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Report of the 2012 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education

The Report of 2012 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education details the results of a survey of 7,752 science and mathematics teachers in schools across the United States. Areas addressed include: teacher backgrounds and beliefs, teachers as professionals, science and mathematics courses, instructional objectives and activities, instructional resources, and factors affecting instruction.

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The School Staffing Surge

"America’s K-12 public education system has experienced tremendous historical growth in employment, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Between fiscal year (FY) 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent while the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) school employees grew 386 percent. Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students."

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Michigan Good Food Charter

Barely into a new millennium, the need for a thriving economy, equity and sustainability for all of Michigan and its people rings truer than ever. As part of achieving these goals, we need to grow, sell and eat “good food” – food that is healthy, green, fair and affordable. 

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2012 School Report Card

This report card ranks all Detroit public schools and public charter schools as well as some private schools. It also includes suburban schools where at least 30% of the students are from Detroit. New this year, the schools are organized by geography to help parents find a school close to where they live or work. Excellent Schools Detroit also used the state’s new, much higher standards for school quality.

View the report card.

Michigan Education Dashboard

The Michigan Education Dashboard ranks Michigan's school and student performance as either "progressing," "declining" or "staying about the same" for a number of relevant performance-gauging categories such as "student accountability," "culture of learning" and "value for money." The user-friendly charts compare prior percentages to current percentages for an easy-to-comprehend reference tool charting Michigan's education system performance overall.

Click here to view the data.

Communities of color find more prominent role within philanthropy sector

Michigan-based Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) is one of the grantees featured in a new report that examines the changing face of philanthropy.

As the U.S. population shifts – with ethnic and racial groups growing faster than the overall American population – the W.K. Kellogg Foundation finds the philanthropic landscape is rapidly changing to become as diverse as the country's population. "Cultures of Giving: Energizing and Expanding Philanthropy by and for Communities of Color," a new report commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation with major funding by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, shows how philanthropy is evolving, with some of the most significant growth stemming from identity-based philanthropy — a growing movement to spark philanthropic giving from a community on behalf of a community, where "community" is defined by race, ethnicity or gender.

ACCESS, which conducted the first research ever done on giving in the Arab American community, inspired Arab American donors to identify themselves as philanthropists who can give strategically and began laying the groundwork toward establishing the Arab American community's first ever identity-based fund.

This report explores current shifts within the philanthropy sector and showcases key learnings, best practices and successful models to promote and enhance philanthropy and giving among communities of color. It shares WKKF's journey so that others might learn from both its successes and mistakes, and it challenges fellow funders to consider new ways to collaborate with and advance the impact of identity-based philanthropy to positively impact the country's most vulnerable children and families.
29 Articles | Page: | Show All
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Bright Ideas


Can systemic racism impact infant mortality?

Even when controlling for poverty, education level, and tobacco use of a mother, maternal and infant health outcomes are far worse for minority populations than European-American women. What's causing the continued disparities? And what can West Michigan do to ensure all babies born here have the best chance of reaching their potential? Zinta Aistars reports on Strong Beginnings, one local program working to give all families a fair start.

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Company Supports 4th Grade Field Trips to Lake Michigan

Parents working more than one job or odd hours, a lack of funds, and no transportation often prevent kids from experiencing one of Michigan’s incredible natural resources. For the majority of west side Grand Rapids elementary school kids, Lake Michigan is sadly out of reach. OST has teamed up with Grand Rapids Public Schools to give fourth-graders at west side schools the opportunity to experience the big lake firsthand.


Youth Decide Where Grant Dollars are Spent

For Grand Rapids students who serve as trustees-in-training on the GRCF Youth Grant Committee, giving back to the community goes hand in hand with empowering students to succeed. 
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