N.C. Poverty Research Fund

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In the Spotlight

The N&O published a series of op-ed pieces by Gene Nichol on public school teachers and poverty. The first one describes the challenges poor kids face. The second focuses on the heroic measures teachers take to lift their students. The third looks at the personal sacrifices required of teachers who remain in high poverty schools.

A hearty thank you! to the thoughtful and energetic students who worked with us this summer. They tackled a range of difficult tasks, including research and connection-building in the communities we hope to partner with over the next couple of years.

Summer 2015 Research Assistants
Summer 2015 Research Assistants. From front L-R: Olivia Taylor; Kenneth Strickland; Amiee Nwabuike; Kirsten Leloudis; Allison de Marco, Poverty Research Fund fellow. Back L-R: Gene Nichol, Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law; Josh Martinkovic; Heather Hunt. Not pictured: Maxwell Gregson, Will Norrell, Rick Ingram, Troy Heisman, Myra Waheed.

They provided vital assistance in getting us started in projects focusing on Goldsboro, Asheville, Greensboro/High Point and Durham, among others, as well as doing research into child poverty, hunger, expunction, foreclosure and consumer issues, and more.

Welcome from Gene Nichol

Welcome to the website of the newly launched North Carolina Poverty Research Fund. The purpose of the Fund is to carry forward earlier efforts by the Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity to explore, document, research, and publish about the immense challenges of economic hardship in North Carolina. Thanks to the generosity of various North Carolina foundations, and engaged and committed citizens from across the state and nation, the Fund allows us to hire student, faculty and post-doctorate scholars to assist in probing the causes of, and solutions to, economic injustice in the Tar Heel state – and to publish, extensively, the fruits of our research.

Poverty is North Carolina’s greatest challenge. In one of the most economically vibrant states of the richest nation on earth, eighteen percent of us live in wrenching poverty. Twenty-five percent of our kids. Forty percent of our children of color. We have one of the country’s fastest rising poverty rates. A decade ago, North Carolina had the 26th highest rate among the states. Now we’re tenth, speeding past the competition. Greensboro, the federal government tells us, is the hungriest city in America. Charlotte has the nation’s worst economic mobility. Over the last decade, North Carolina experienced the country’s steepest rise in concentrated poverty. Poverty, amidst plenty, stains the life of this storied commonwealth.

The North Carolina Poverty Research Fund’s research and publication work will initially be directed toward two overarching projects. The first we have entitled, “Putting A Face on Poverty in North Carolina Communities”. The “Communities” research will produce robust, detailed and powerful studies of economic hardship and challenge in various particular, but illustrative, locales across the state. Work is presently underway in Charlotte, Salisbury, Durham, Greensboro, Asheville, Goldsboro, Roper and Lumberton. Other cities will be added next year. Each community’s focus will include an array of articles, a detailed report, and, often, video segments exploring the impact of poverty on local residents. Each will emphasize data and demographics, of course, but will also turn heavily to narratives from residents living in poverty to more powerfully complete the portrait.

Second, the Fund will support research and publication on “Poverty and Public Policy in North Carolina.” These studies will explore, in depth, the impact of various North Carolina legislative, executive and judicial decisions on the state’s lowest income residents. The research will result in both academic reports and publications designed for mass and electronic media.

Both broad projects are designed to place the plight of poor and low income North Carolinians center stage in our shared discourse.

We are immensely grateful for your support of these necessary efforts.

Gene Nichol, Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law

UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106


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