James Norman is retiring after 25 years of leading Action for a Better Community in Rochester.

He discusses his career and the most pressing issues as he leaves his post.

We're discussing taxes -- specifically, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is a federal and state anti-poverty program that assists low income households by giving them extra cash based on their income. In Monroe County, approximately 60,000 households will receive an average of $4,000 between the federal and state EITC.

This hour, our guests help us understand what the EITC is, who it benefits, the pros and cons of the program, and what you need to know. In studio:

Trauma affects families of all ethnicities, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and it can be the result of a number of factors: crimes against humanity; terrorism; natural disasters; poverty; and more. While scientists have studied its impact on victims’ mental and physical health, research on the impact and scope of multigenerational trauma is just beginning to receive more attention. Scientists point to epigenetic changes in the DNA of families affected by trauma, suggesting that stress in the older generation translates into an adaptation adopted by the next generation.

So what does this mean for the development of trauma-informed care? And how can we help families affected by trauma in our community, especially those living in poverty? This is the subject of an upcoming talk at Hillside Family of Agencies.* Our guests preview that talk and discuss the broad effects of multigenerational trauma.

  • Dr. Yael Danieli, clinical psychologist, victimologist, traumatologist, and co-founder and director of the Group Project for Holocaust Survivors and their Children
  • Ruth Turner, executive director of student support services for the Rochester City School District
  • Monica Devine-Haley, clinician at Hillside Children’s Center
  • Megan Bell, executive director of the Wilson Foundation

Be honest: When you think of a family in poverty, or a single mother in poverty, is it easy to think that you've made some good decisions in your life, and if people in poverty made better decisions, they would be where you are?

This hour, we explore how we understand -- or misunderstand -- poverty, and what we can do about it. Susan Dreyfus is the president and CEO of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities. She's from Milwaukee, but she'll be in Rochester in the coming weeks to discuss how social sector organizations can address poverty. We preview that discussion and ask her how she views Rochester's efforts to combat poverty. Our guests:

ROC the Future is gearing up to release its 2017 State of Our Children report. The document tracks how Rochester's children are faring "from cradle to career." The 2016 report highlighted progress in third grade reading levels and a reduction in absenteeism, while demonstrating the need for improvement in students' math proficiency and parental involvement.

So how did we do this year? We review the 2016 report and preview this year's findings, which are set to be released next month. In studio:

  • Ajamu Kitwana, executive director of ESL Charitable Foundation and chair of ROC the Future
  • Erika Rosenberg, principal at the Center for Governmental Research
  • Jackie Campbell, director of ROC the Future

We've seen poverty reports in recent years that extensively show Rochester lagging far behind other cities its size across the country. A new report called "Hard Facts" indicates African American and Latino residents in the Rochester region fare much worse than their white counterparts on a number of issues: health; education; wages; and home ownership.

Ed Doherty is the author of the report. He joins us in studio for the hour.

Super Bowl Champion and Rochester native Roland Williams says he’s seen the effects poverty, gangs, drugs, and violence can have on teens living in poverty, and he’s made it his mission to set local students on a path to success. That’s why he founded the Champion Academy, which offers “extreme mentoring” to students in middle and high school.

We get an inside look at how the Academy works from leaders and participants, and we hear Williams’ vision for its future. Our guests:

  • Roland Williams, former NFL player and founder of the Champion Academy
  • Anthony Bogar, member of the Champion Academy
  • Titiana Bogar, Anthony’s mother
  • Veronica Wilson, community partnerships manager for the Champion Academy

In an interview last month, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson made some comments about poverty that have led to intense backlash. Carson called poverty “a state of mind,” saying some people are poor because they have the wrong attitude. But that wasn’t all. He continued to say that efforts to help people in need may backfire if those people don’t have the right outlook on life.

His comments ignited debate about grit theory and what people in poverty truly need. Our guests discuss the facts, the misconceptions, and local efforts to reduce poverty. In studio:

Low-income students of color make up the majority of classrooms in American public schools, and research shows that the challenges they face -- poverty, homelessness, or hunger -- have directly influenced their level of academic success. While many of these children are failing to make the grade, education experts say state and federal policies are failing the students. They say there’s too much of a focus on raising test scores, and that policies should be designed to close opportunity gaps and get students excited about learning.

Pedro Noguera is an internationally-recognized education scholar who studies how students are affected by a variety of social and economic factors. He’s in Rochester to give a presentation at East High School, but first, he’s our guest on Connections. We talk about how to create more equitable education opportunities for all students. In studio:

  • Pedro Noguera, Ph.D., sociologist and distinguished professor of education at UCLA
  • Shaun Nelms, Ed.D., associate professor at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester, superintendent of East High School, and co-chair of the Greater Rochester Initiative for Children’s Social and Emotional Health Implementation Task Force

How does poverty impact a child's chances of being a successful student? What are our assumptions about poverty? Those are just some of the questions at the heart of a new conference called The Many Faces of Poverty. It's being led by, among others, the College at Brockport’s Institute for Poverty Studies and Economic Development. Our guests:

  • Celia Watt, director of the Institute for Poverty Studies and Economic Development
  • LaShunda Leslie-Smith, executive director of Connected Communities, Inc.
  • Lisa Robusto-Mack, events coordinator for The College at Brockport
  • Lesli Myers, superintendent of Brockport Central Schools