Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity Newsletter

Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity Newsletter: Friday, October 3, 2014


New Research Fellow

Allison De Marco The Poverty Center is delighted to announce that Allison De Marco is our new external research fellow. Allison is great fit, a natural extension of our research interests and a bridge to other parts of campus. As she notes:

With the Poverty Center, I hope to highlight the relevant research going on around the University and State, pursue my research agenda in partnership with center staff, and engage the next generation of advocates and scholars by hosting interns from the UNC School of Social Work.

An investigator at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and adjunct faculty at the UNC School of Social Work, Allison’s research focuses on poverty, neighborhood effects, work and family, child care, and well-being for residents of rural communities. Recently she has become interested in asset development among low-income communities of color and has been leading evaluation efforts for a model program in North Carolina.

Allison earned her PhD in Social Welfare from University of California, Berkeley, her MSW from the University of Southern California, and her BA from UCLA. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Family Research Consortium IV at Penn State University. She’s involved with several community organizations related to poverty and social justice, including the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness, Orange County's Project Connect and Orange County Justice United. She also volunteers with the Organizing Against Racism Alliance and serves as a field instructor for UNC's Community Empowerment Fund, a relationship-based asset-development program for low-income residents of Orange and Durham Counties, North Carolina.

A warm welcome to Allison!

Poverty Center participates in national and regional programs

In other fellow news, the Center’s postdoctoral research fellow, Joe Polich, traveled to Kansas in July to present at the annual Kansas Association of Community Action Programs' Conference on Poverty. Over 400 registrants--social workers, public officials, program directors, advocates, and others--attended diverse presentations, a keynote address by Tavis Smiley, and a screening of the documentary “Paycheck to Paycheck.” (Joe was lucky enough to sit next to the protagonist of the film during the showing. She’s really nice.)

Joe presented information on concentrated urban poverty in Kansas, detailed the effects of growing up poor on child development, and described the High School Poverty Curriculum developed for the Poverty Center. Kansas, it turns out, is similar to North Carolina in that the southeast corner of the state is typically viewed as the poor part of the state, in much the same way as eastern North Carolina. Both states, however, have areas of concentrated poverty hidden within their wealthier urban counties. In Kansas, pockets of poverty persist in the cities of Topeka, Kansas City and Wichita, similar to the pockets in Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Raleigh and Durham.

The presentation and the curriculum garnered the attention of Elaine Weiss from the Economic Policy Institute and Shital Shah of the American Federation of Teachers. Joe is working with Elaine and Shital, as well as the creator of the poverty curriculum, Brian McDonald, to distribute the curriculum beyond North Carolina’s borders. For more information on the poverty curriculum, contact Joe at

The Center also presented at the NC mayor’s summit on poverty on September 10. The summit, called by Mayor Nancy Vaughan of Greensboro, was attended by the mayors and city council members across the Triangle and Triad. The summit was the first in a series of convenings to address poverty in NC’s urban areas. Joe Polich spoke on “ban the box” ordinances as a way to support employment for people with criminal records.

Center in the News

In the past few months, Poverty Center staff wrote or were featured in pieces in:

Director Gene Nichol also appeared in Hungry for Answers, a video on food insecurity produced by WRAL.

Analysis and Commentary

The US Census Bureau recently released national poverty figures from the 2013 American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS showed that the poverty rate for the country, and for most states including North Carolina, was not statistically different from 2012. NC’s poverty rate of 17.9% puts it at 11th in the nation. The statewide child poverty rate of 25.2% was also unchanged from the previous year.

Percent of poverty by race, 2013
Percent of poverty by race, 2013

The statewide median household income of $45,906 was also statistically unchanged from last year. This amount is 8% less than median household income in 2007 and 13% less than in 2000 (in 2013 real dollars).

Forty NC counties are included in this release. Mecklenburg and Wake had by far the greatest number of people in poverty, with over 100,000 each. At 29.7%, Robeson County had the highest rate of poverty. In 12 of the 40 counties with available data, more than one in five residents were poor. In 30 out of 40 counties, at least one in five children were poor.

These figures are from the 2013 American Community Survey 1-year estimates, which covers places with more than 65,000 people. Information on smaller places is available from the 3- and 5-year surveys, which will come out later this fall. Check out the Center’s website for more info in the coming months.

Student Research at the Center

Our vivacious and diligent summer students—research assistants, externs, interns and others—have departed after delivering insights on a range of projects, from child poverty and hunger to regulation of for-profit colleges. They interviewed Native American tribal leaders, food pantry volunteers, housing experts, economists and CEOs. They researched living wage campaigns, reverse mortgages, car title loans and the effect of the recession on the wealth gap between white and minority households. They analyzed data to tease out the correlation between foreclosure and bankruptcy and spent many hours going through foreclosure files in the Durham courthouse. Working with and getting to know them was a joy and we wish them the best as they pursue BAs, JDs and other lofty goals.

Follow the Center!

The Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity wants to connect with you! To stay up to date on Center events, research, programming, and news, follow us on:

For more information about the Poverty Center or to reach a staff person, please email or call 919.445.0182.

Forward This E-Mail to a Friend