This Month's Edition...
Our Journalism scholars are working on investigations of local and hyperlocal issues that matter deeply to them. This month, we feature some of the extended in-depth investigations for which we will continue to uncover solutions.
Due to printing constraints, this issue will be ALL Digital!
Financial literacy is an essential life skill often overlooked in traditional education, despite its crucial importance in our daily lives. Understanding financial concepts like budgeting, saving, investing, and avoiding debt is critical to building a stable financial future. Unfortunately, financial literacy classes are not mandatory in many schools, leaving students unprepared to navigate the complex world of personal finance.
High school seniors, in particular, are at a critical point in their lives where they need to understand the basics of managing money. As they prepare to leave home for college or the workforce, they will face new financial challenges that they may not be equipped to handle. Without a strong foundation in financial literacy, they may struggle to make informed decisions about their finances, leading to debt, stress, and other negative outcomes.
According to a 2018 survey by Junior Achievement USA and the Allstate Foundation, "75% of American teens lack confidence in their knowledge of personal finance." This lack of financial literacy education matters to students, parents, educators, and society. Improving financial literacy education can help students develop the skills and knowledge they need to make informed financial decisions, reduce the likelihood of financial stress and debt, promote economic mobility, and reduce income inequality.
To improve the lack of financial literacy classes in Rochester City School District high schools, the school district could consider incorporating financial literacy education into the standard curriculum. According to a survey conducted by the Council for Economic Education, "only 21 states require high school students to take a course in personal finance" (CEE, 2021). Providing resources and training to educators is also essential so they can effectively teach financial literacy topics. Additionally, partnerships with community organizations and financial institutions can help provide additional resources and expertise to support financial literacy education in schools.
One challenge in promoting financial literacy education is the lack of standardization across different states and school districts. While some states require financial literacy courses, others do not. As a result, students in some areas may receive a more comprehensive financial education than others, which can lead to disparities in financial knowledge and outcomes.
To address this challenge, policymakers and educators could work to establish national standards for financial literacy education in schools. These standards could include core concepts and skills that all students should learn, such as budgeting, saving, investing, and understanding credit. By establishing national standards, policymakers can ensure that all students have access to a high-quality financial education, regardless of where they live.
A study published in the Journal of Consumer Affairs found that financial education can have a positive and significant impact on student's financial knowledge and behaviors, mainly when the courses are taught by qualified educators with engaging curricula and interactive teaching methods (Chen & Volpe, 1998). However, it's important to note that the effectiveness of financial literacy education programs can depend on various factors, including the quality of the curriculum, the qualifications of the educators, and the level of engagement from students. Therefore, it's crucial to design and implement financial literacy education programs with these factors in mind to ensure that they effectively promote financial literacy among students.
To ensure that financial literacy education is effective, educators should focus on creating an engaging and relevant curriculum that meets students where they are. For example, educators could incorporate real-life scenarios into their lessons to demonstrate the practical application of financial concepts. Additionally, educators should receive training and professional development to ensure they have the skills and knowledge necessary to effectively teach financial literacy.
Partnering with community organizations and financial institutions can also help provide additional resources and expertise to support financial literacy education in schools. For example, local banks and credit unions may be willing to provide financial literacy resources or guest speakers to help educate students. Community organizations like Junior Achievement and the National Endowment for Financial Education offer a variety of financial literacy programs and resources that can be leveraged to support financial education in schools.
In addition to the lack of financial literacy education in schools, there are adjacent or connected issues that also need to be addressed, such as poverty, income inequality, a lack of access to financial services, and the high cost of higher education. The National Financial Educators Council reports that "lack of financial literacy costs the average American household $9,600 per year" (NFEC, n.d.). These issues can contribute to financial stress and debt among students and impact their ability to achieve economic mobility.
To address these issues, policymakers and educators could consider implementing policies and programs that promote financial inclusion and access to financial services, such as banking and credit. They could also work to make higher education more affordable and accessible to low-income students.
By improving financial literacy education in Rochester City School District high schools, students, parents, educators, and society could benefit from reduced financial stress, enhanced economic mobility, and increased financial independence. As financial literacy education is crucial to the well-being of individuals and society as a whole, it is imperative that we prioritize this education in our schools and communities.
Gender-Dominated Career Fields
Throughout the years, gender-dominated careers in STEM have become a significant issue, as STEM is also considered to be a male field, and not suitable for females. STEM, also known as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math offers multiple career opportunities and is among the most popular and largest industries. With so many opportunities in this lucrative field, the question we must ask ourselves is, how can we encourage both males and females to head into different careers in the STEM field?
Since the 1970’s women were underrepresented in STEM, according to census.gov, women make up 8% of STEM workers in 1970 to 27% in 2019. Although the number of women taking part in STEM careers increased, males still dominate in the field by making up to 73% of all STEM workers.
Men and women pursue quite different kinds of occupations, which is another significant distinction. As we look more closely at the sample graph on the left, it shows the percentage of women working in STEM fields from the 1970s to 2019. Women make up a smaller share of the workforce in fields like engineering (15%) and computer science (25%), although their numbers have significantly increased in those of social scientists and mathematicians. The example graph to the right demonstrates that the problem still persists in 2023, with women remaining underrepresented in fields like engineering, computer science, and more, while males still dominate in these careers.
One of the main adjacent issues to the gender gap in STEM is because of the disparity in income men and women make. Econofact.org reports that fields where women are underrepresented often pay greater earnings than those where they are more prevalent. The median salary in 2019 for full-time workers in computer science was $105,000 and $100,000 for engineers, both male-dominated occupations. Whereas female dominated occupations, such as psychologists, median salary for example was $74,000 and $64,000 for biological, agricultural, and environmental science. The graph below demonstrates the disparity in earnings between men and women.
But why does this gender gap yet still exist? Some of the causes are a result of stigmas and preconceptions such as the idea that women should not pursue STEM education or employment because they lack the attributes often associated with men. Because there are fewer women and men in the sector, finding role models might be challenging, as Ms.Spano a CTE program teacher stated ”I want to see someone who looks like me, to trust”. There may also be fewer opportunities for women to hold leadership positions or opportunities.
How can the gender gap be closed? What has already been done? And how have these solutions effectively changed the issue?
The promotion of STEM occupations among young women and the advancement of their education are some potential solutions. A good strategy to encourage young females to pursue leadership positions in their fields is through promoting female role models, and offering mentorship, education, and networking opportunities that might assist women in developing the abilities and self-assurance necessary to excel in the field. creating a better and supportive environment through promoting gender parity, exposing the wage gap, and combating gender bias. Opportunities for kids to explore STEM-related subjects, like National STEM Day on November 8th at schools, are a good approach to exposing kids to learning from an early age. These are potentially good solutions that have been made or are being made.
At East High School, there are multiple offered job, mentorship, and sponsorship program opportunities for teenagers willing to explore a STEM career of their interest. Ms.Spano a CTE program teacher, had commented on the gender gap between STEM careers, “'we’re noticing why women don’t want to go into the field or aren’t attracted to it, so we are advertising or selling a program to help attract everyone”. East High School CTE teachers are taking the initiative to expose these opportunities to students both male and female. A way that they encouraged females and males to go into these opposite-gender-dominated careers is by promoting the program specifically, for example, to females where it is more male-dominated. “We didn't tell boys they couldn't go, but the way we described neuroscience is maybe for a woman to want it more”, Ms.Spano had stated, speaking about the Neuroscience program with the University of Rochester, another field male-dominated.
The nursing profession is an example of the stigmas and preconceptions that exist; males should be less likely to enter this profession because they are “neither caretakers nor do they possess the masculine characteristics that are not necessary for this career”. At East High School, The Nursing Pathways program had set opened doors for students interested in healthcare professions. One of the main goals of this program was to encourage more male students to participate to find an interest in nursing, since the percentage of male nurses is extremely low, about 14% in the U.S. compared to the percentage of women nurses, which is about 86%. Ms.Spano claimed, “There are boys who have done the nursing program with the idea they want to be a doctor, we advertise the program as nursing and medical professions”...A lot of boys think that they have to be at the top, the competitive edge…”. The general significant problem that Ms.Spano cleared up was the competition between men and women in STEM careers. The purpose of this is to encourage both males and females to head into careers that share equal opportunities. “How can you make this a better place? You're creating an atmosphere instead of competitiveness” Ms.Spano adds.
We can encourage females and males to head into different careers in STEM by changing the way we all think. Encouraging students from a young age and exposing them to the STEM field, is a solution to changing the stigmas and stereotypes amongst both genders.
Teen homelessness is a major issue in today’s society. Teens are left with nowhere to go, house-to house, friends couches, etc. due to a variety of reasons. This issue affects teens, parents, communities within which teens reside, their peers, and teachers (people the teens interact with) at their highschool. Often, the cause of teen homelessness ranges from teens who are under bad influences from friends, teens who undergo mental health problems, family issues, abuse, drugs, and no support in their day-to-day life.
This is a significant issue in Rochester communities. I just went through this struggle myself; you’d be surprised at the amount of teens this issue affects. Teens do not have the same privileges as 18+ so they need additional help/support with these types of issues. Also, their safety is at risk being out in the streets/community with no help. We need to create housing options for them, schools need a crisis response plan if they are aware of a student being homeless, and we need to increase employment opportunities for teens.
Four different runaway and homeless youth (RHY) program models are granted operating certificates by the state of New York. Every one of them responds to various needs. Each county has a wide variety of initiatives in operation. Crisis service programs and the Transitional Independent Living Support Program (TILP) are two program concepts in Monroe County. Runaway kids under the age of 18 or between the ages of 16 and 21, or up to 25 in some towns, are given temporary shelter through RHY crisis services programs. When necessary, the objective of residential RHY crisis care programs is to support a youth's safe reunification with their guardians. Two different categories of crisis services programs exist:
Refuge for Runaways and Homeless Kids
These initiatives, often known as "crisis shelters" or "youth shelters," provide up to 20 young people with temporary emergency lodging. Youth can often participate in these programs for up to 30 days, but under some conditions they can last up to 120 days.
Family Program Interim
Interim Family Homes offer temporary emergency refuge for up to two youth in a person's or family's home with additional space to share. Homes may provide housing for young people up to the age of 21, or up to the age of 25 in some towns. Interim Family Programs that hold an OCFS license oversee and inspect Interim Family Homes. Local organizations with experience in RHY needs and development are Interim Family Programs. They make sure that the adolescents who are in the Temporary Family Homes they sponsor have safe and suitable living conditions.
TILPs are residential programs that offer homeless teenagers between the ages of 16 and 21, or up to 25 in some communities, longer-term residence. These initiatives are made to help homeless youth move from a state of crisis to independent life. TILPs come in two varieties:
Assisted residences offer a setting that simulates independent living (often an apartment) for up to five homeless teenagers who are the same gender and between the ages of 16 and 21 (or up to 25 in some towns).
For a maximum of 20 homeless children between the ages of 16 and 21 (or up to 25 in some towns), group houses offer an atmosphere that promotes the development and practice of independent living skills.
In Monroe County specifically we have a variety of programs centered around our youth. Containing the center for youth. They have different programs that subside to different groups of people as well. Including The Transitional Living Program, New Beginning House program, The Arnett House for LGBTQ youth, and Host Homes program. Each program serves the needs of different people. Kids who are homeless or living in insecure conditions can receive case management and/or housing services from The Center for Youth's Transitional Living Program (TLP). The program's objective is to assist young people, aged 16 to 21, in developing self-reliance and settling into secure housing. The Center welcomes all young people and works to offer services that are considerate of the diverse cultural, racial, religious, and LGBT identities that young people represent. Included in TLP are: Chrysalis House
Young ladies who might be pregnant or have children for up to 18 months can live in a lovely setting at The Chrysalis House. Six mothers can be served by the program, and there are two more beds available for young women who are pregnant or without children. We support each woman as she evaluates her needs and creates a strategy to achieve her self-sufficiency objectives. The locals actively participate in looking for educational options, career opportunities, and work opportunities. Under the direction and support of a committed and compassionate staff, young women can make life-changing decisions that benefit both themselves and their children at Chrysalis House.
For both young men and women, the Transitional Living Program residences offer a safe place to live. Every resident creates goals and implements a strategy to become independent. Residents take training on life skills and meet with their case managers once a week. In order to set and accomplish goals for independence, young people in non-residential TLP meet with their case managers twice a month.
In order to offer housing and all-encompassing services to young men who may have been homeless or cut off from conventional supports, the Center opened the New Beginning House in 2015. The independent living facility supports people in their efforts to become self-sufficient while fostering enduring ties to their families and the community.
Those they serve:
Six young males, ages 18 to 21, are housed in the multi-unit building, two in each apartment. The young men are completing their secondary education or vocational training, getting ready for their Test Assessing Secondary Completion (formerly the GED), and/or looking for work. Most young men will stay for up to six months but will have the opportunity to stay longer if they are in the process of finishing high school. Outcomes of this program include preparing young men to live on their own, re-engaging them in the community and empowering them to make healthy, educated life choices.
The Center for Youth offers referral services, advocacy, temporary and permanent housing, emergency shelters, and more. And, as they have done for more than 45 years, they support their LGBTQ youth, providing a strong foundation for each young person to succeed. The Arnett House will soon open its doors, serving as a place of residence and support for homeless LGBTQ and trafficked adolescents. After being substantially renovated, the house was donated to The Center for Youth in 2018 and can now offer uninterrupted care to residents around-the-clock, every day of the year. To consistently and positively shelter adolescents, The Center for Youth relies on a variety of grants, foundations, businesses, private contributors, and special events. The By Their Side campaign aims to raise awareness and money to build a refuge specifically for LGBTQ adolescents and those who have been commercially sex trafficked. The Center is able to provide enough housing, coordination, and overall safety for our city's most vulnerable residents because of the financial support of our local community.
Youth who identify as LGBTQ are extremely susceptible to housing disparities. Up to 1.6 million young people in America are homeless each year. LGBTQ individuals make about 40% of all young persons facing homelessness. These figures are abnormally high given that LBGT adolescents make up an estimated 7% of the general youth population. LGBTQ people have a 120% increased risk of being homeless. While homeless LGBTQ youth share some needs with their non-LGBTQ peers, they also have needs unique to their identities.
The Host House Program is made up of persons or families who offer young pregnant or parenting people in our community, aged 16 to 22, a home-based emergency and/or longer-term housing option. The Host Houses guarantee that homeless youth have access to a licensed, voluntary home environment, high-quality crisis childcare services, academic support, and workforce development training - all under one roof. They are also connected to the wider continuum of Center for Youth Services.
Two Different Forms of Host-Home Services - Urgent host meaning short-term emergency beds available for stays as short as one night and as long as 14 days. Longer-term Host meaning this is a longer-term hosting model for a young person who is pregnant or parenting. The only transitional housing program for homeless teen moms in our area, Chrysalis House, is run by CYS. In order to provide pregnant and parenting homeless young mothers with the support, direction, and opportunities they require to develop self-assurance in order to construct healthy, successful lives, the Maternity Group Home Program (MGH), a 6-bed group home and Case Management model, was established.
While the Center for Youth was founded in 1971 when a group of Brighton High School students had the notion to establish a "center" that would cater to the particular needs of young people in Rochester, New York. The underlying premise of the project was rather novel for its time: young people could make their own wise life decisions if they were given the right information and encouragement. The Center was established as a resource for and by youth. This remains the guiding philosophy at The Center for Youth. They are dedicated to enhancing the voices of vulnerable youth while empowering and advocating for them. Their goal is to offer comprehensive programs in a fully private, voluntary, and free manner.
The salvation army's Genesis house is another initiative that is specifically for young people in Monroe County. Genesis House was built by the Rochester Salvation Army in 1981 as a temporary shelter for homeless and runaway children between the ages of 16 and 20. Genesis House provides teenagers and young adults with food, shelter, and guidance to help them break the cycle of homelessness as the only emergency shelter in Monroe County that treats people ages 18 to 20 as adolescents. Caseworkers discuss the narratives of Sammy and Sean.
According to the Salvation Army (2015), Sean arrived at Genesis House carrying a lot of weight and not knowing what his future held. He related the tale of his fractured family and cruel stepfather. Sean was diagnosed with cognitive impairment and depression. He disclosed to the staff that his stepfather had taken him out of school and informed the administrators that he would be homeschooled when establishing goals and a case management plan. Case managers got to work right away with Sean to create plans for the future and support him in achieving his objectives. The first step was to find accommodation, and Sean's case manager started looking for assisted living programs that he could enroll in to help him acquire the skills he needs to become independent. His case managers also connected him to family home care services so that he could live with a family until a spot in a residential or supportive living program became available because there was a considerable queue for these programs. The second objective was to locate a doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist, as well as to get his vital records. Sean needed all of these things in order to register for both family care services and school. Case management made every effort to engage with nearby organizations to get him the care he required. Sean's third objective was to return to school and earn his GED. He was able to relocate with his foster family and began his GED program at the Office of Adult & Vocational Education Services (OACES). Sean's departure from Genesis House was bittersweet because, despite the staff's happiness for him and his accomplishments, they will genuinely miss him and the joy he gave to their workplace.
The Salvation Army (2015) retold the story of Sammy who was a young man who had previously participated in the Genesis House program a few times. In December 2014, he rejoined us once more. He had previously failed to accomplish his objectives and to take advantage of the opportunities presented to him for a better life. But this time, Sammy vowed that he had his priorities in order and was prepared to move out on his own. By the end of January 2015, Sammy successfully finished the Genesis House program. This time, he avoided reverting to his previous bad habits of disobeying orders and skipping appointments. He was able to remain on top of program obligations, attend all necessary appointments, and find a permanent home in Rochester with the aid of his Genesis House case manager. He was also accepted into the Job Corps, where he is currently waiting to be placed in a long-term position.
The salvation army's Genesis House will reportedly be directing newly arrived homeless youths to other shelters as of 2022. In 2022, The Salvation Army of Greater Rochester made the announcement that they would direct homeless youths who visit Genesis House to other shelter organizations for assistance. According to the Salvation Army, they will now direct homeless teenagers between the ages of 16 and 17 who want help to the Center for Youth and other regional organizations.
For many years, Genesis House has been a strong and effective program, according to Major Debbie Burr, The Salvation Army's Director of Monroe County Operations. But, the environment has changed, particularly over the last 18 months, and they now have the chance to both review how the Salvation Army's resources are used in Rochester and to improve many of their other initiatives. In 1981, the Salvation Army's Genesis House in Rochester opened as a shelter for homeless and runaway teenagers between the ages of 16 and 20. In order to develop innovative methods for the shelter to serve the community, including potential additions such as more long-term supportive housing choices, the Salvation Army will also establish a strategic planning group.
It’s also interesting to see the effect of homelessness amongst different groups of people as well. Particular juvenile and young adult subpopulations are more likely to experience homelessness. Compared to their white counterparts, the danger for black youth is 83% higher. Youth of Hispanic descent are at 33% higher risk. Youth who identify as LGBTQ were more than twice as likely to have been homeless. A young parent's risk was three times higher if they were single than if they were not. Youth who have been in foster care, juvenile detention, the police, or the prison system. Youth who do not graduate from high school are 3.5 times more likely to become homeless than their counterparts who did.
Although many teens have housing options available if they become homeless there’s many causes which lead them into this predicament. Many young people are forced to live on the streets before they are adults because of instability in their households. Youth homelessness may result from family circumstances such child abuse and/or neglect, marital violence, parental substance use, or family strife. 90% of young people who use juvenile shelters say their homes are challenging, with frequent fighting or yelling. The vast majority of young people do not choose to become homeless, and instead end themselves couch surfing, sleeping on the streets, or in a shelter.
Another cause of youth homelessness is parent-child conflict over a child's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. It is too unsafe for young people to stay at home, so they are either expelled or leave.
The disparity among LGBTQ kids who are homeless is alarming; they are more likely to experience victimization, sex trafficking, unsafe sexual behavior, mental health problems, and other problems. Homelessness among LGBTQ adolescents happens for a number of causes, including the co-occurrence of homophobia and transphobia, poverty, broken systems, family poverty and abuse, among others.
In order to help these teens effectively or lessen the chances of teen homelessness besides the programs that are already out here, I feel that we need to pay close attention to the elements that particularly contribute to teenage homelessness. These include participation with government programs like child welfare and the criminal justice system, as well as issues with families, the economy, racial inequities, and mental and substance use illnesses. According to a research, 19% of kids who were in foster care when they were 17 reported being homeless at any point during the subsequent two years.
We have to especially pay attention to the special requirements of vulnerable youth who are facing homelessness. This includes Native American youth, youth who identify as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning), and youth who have been victims of human trafficking. For instance, for the 20 to 40 percent of LGBTQ kids suffering homelessness, family conflict and rejection over sexual orientation and gender identity may need to be addressed. Youth with impairments or special needs as well as young people who are pregnant or raising children are other susceptible categories. Approximately one in four of the youth enrolled in transitional living programs financed by the health and human services are parents or expectant mothers.
Then recognize the effects of age and developmental factors on how youth experience homelessness and their exit and entry points. The goal of strategies should be to reconnect young people, especially those under the age of 18, with their families or other natural supports when it is safe to do so. About 70% of young people under the age of 18 who entered an emergency shelter financed by the health and human services exited the facility to visit a parent or guardian.
A broader range of interventions, ranging from short to long term housing, with varying levels of support and services, including education, are needed to end homelessness among young people, in addition to family focused efforts. For young people aged 18 years or over, these services can be particularly useful.
Unlike other systems youth interact with, like child welfare or juvenile justice, efforts to serve youth experiencing homelessness are not provided through a single, coordinated system of support funded by a state or Federal agency. Moreover, the varied and unique needs of youth experiencing homelessness require a range of interventions and solutions that no single funding stream can provide. In order to provide this variety of solutions, cooperation among the federal, state and local partners is required.
We must establish and implement a joint, collaborative response within each community for the purpose of addressing all physical, developmental or social needs of young people experiencing homelessness. This response must be based upon efforts to promote healthy families at local, state and federal levels: By identifying and working with families at risk of breaking up, we can prevent youth from becoming homeless. We must effectively identify and engage youth at risk for, or actually experiencing, homelessness and connect them with trauma-informed, culturally appropriate, and developmentally and age-appropriate interventions. Intervene early when youth do become homeless and work toward family reunification, when safe and appropriate. Develop coordinated entry systems to identify youth for the appropriate types of aid and allocate resources according to their vulnerability. If needed, provide access to secure shelter and emergency services. Ensure that evaluations respond to the specific needs of and characteristics of young persons, which should be emphasized when necessary through strong links with and support for exit from mainstream systems. Create individual services and housing for each young person that are tailored to his or her needs, including measurable results across key performance indicators such as education and employment.
We recognize that achieving the objective of ending youth homelessness is a challenge. The use of all available resources is needed to achieve this objective, and new investments will need to be made in a timely manner by the Government, States and Communities. We are all learning so much about how to end homelessness as a nation. Progress has been made through programs, showing that the goal of ending homelessness is attainable for all. When communities come together and mobilize around a goal, dramatic change can happen.
Rochester is in a health crisis called a “Food desert/swamp” where people in marginalized communities are living with a disproportion in Healthy and sustainable food and have been for decades but it seems as if it's only now gaining traction in the media and being advocated against. Food deserts came about when supermarkets abandoned our inner city communities in an attempt to ”follow the money” symbolized by the suburbs, leaving inner city residents hungry and confused. Those without access to transportation or suburban grocery prices suffered all the more.
To fill this void, redlined communities faced an uprising in cheap, unhealthy food vendors which should only sustain one for so long due to the lack of necessary nutrition which caused a health decrease across an entire population. To illustrate, Healthline.com states, ”The causes of food deserts are multifaceted. Public policy and economic practices that are embedded in systemic racism often play a role. Social, economic, and political conditions have been shown to reduce people’s access to healthy foods” (Alexis, A. 2023 ,Paragraph 2). These standards continue to plague the minority community today which goes to show, this issue and the struggles that come with it is not an individual problem with an easy or immediate solution. The factors that cause this are embedded into our racist, capitalist society and can't be remedied with a single solution. This will be a long process with extensive aspects to address. With so many issues to tackle, where should we start?
A key aspect of this food apartheid is our country’s history to Redlining, which according to BlackPast non-profit organization , “Redlining is a discriminatory pattern of disinvestment and obstruction that acts as a barrier for home ownership among African Americans and other people of color.” So by extension, “ Redlining is institutionalized racism intentionally designed to put minority communities at a disadvantage” (Gaspaire, B. 2012, Paragraph 1). These racist laws receded past prohibiting home and land ownership into limiting nutrition access and putting our health in jeopardy by making way for unhealthy substitutions to gain traction and popularity. Another fueling factor to this health crisis is the lack of transportation to supermarkets. Which is needed by the discriminatory placement of these grocery stores and further inhibited by the racist history of vehicle access and the Rochester transportation system. By that, I'm referring to the creation of automobile expressways that allowed white Americans, who could afford cars to access jobs while living in racially exclusive suburbs, to commute efficiently to their employment epicenters. And as no surprise, these highways doubled as a way of demolishing “blighted” black neighborhoods, segregating white from black, and rich from poor in our city. This redlining tactic aided in keeping blacks in separate living, shopping and working conditions than whites and diminishing chances of building generational wealth which is discernible today. To illustrate, Reconnectrochester.org states ” The average new vehicle, $37,876.The average Black household in the U.S. earns $41,511 (2018), less than $4,000 more than the cost of the average American automobile. In a nation where Black Americans were disallowed to thrive in our urban cores, this same social and economic rift occurs today with regard to transportation and the convenient access of jobs and services” (Horbovetz, A. 2020, paragraph 6). This just goes to show another aspect of this apartheid inflicted by this racist society.
To remedy this once and for all it will take a dismantling and reinforcing of prejudice and avarice, not to mention racist system. Not simply adding an additional supermarket to a high traffic area with the same ‘suburban’ price margins. Take Constantino’s for example. Constantino’s was a supermarket in Mt. Hopes College town and so-called solution to food deserts which lasted only less than a year due to lack of profit. And according to 13WHAM.com Who interviewed locals states, "Disappointed, disappointed. Mostly because of the financial model for them to be able to survive here. It's tough"(WHAM, 2016, paragraph 6). Based on its lack of profit we can see how underutilized it was but that wasn’t due to lack of necessity made obvious by our food desert. So we can infer from its lack of profit but continuing need that its price margin was not appropriate for this location. But still the need for food remains. So what’s a way for these redlined communities that are lacking in affordable and healthy food sources as well as transportation to seek them out. Maybe take the food to them. Though there has been progress in the form of foodlink trucks to bridge the food equity gap with help of investors, these trucks are few and far between while usually frequent housing complexes and assisted living homes. With fresh fruits and veggies and accepting of EBT and other forms of government assistance has been beneficial to the public, but also unreliable as far as serving more than a few areas.
So what if we advocated for community green house gardens. Like foodlink community gardens on Lexington Ave. Which was founded by a group of refugees who’d assembled around a need for space to grow nutritious and culturally relevant food like they are accustomed to growing. What if we could expand this program to further locations and integrate communities to teach food deserts to become accustomed to cultivating land & food for a deeper self-sufficiency. Maintained by its customers and locals who have been educated on agriculture and nutrition by professionals and sanctioned by the city. It would also create jobs like maintaining crops and inventory and even create a mentor-like relationship with some of our city’s at-risk youth. Last but not least, this would bring the community itself together by bonding through collaborating and shared experiences. The goal is to give communities edible, social, and sustainable support and I think this is a great way to reach it.
A rift has opened in the last few years and communities have been divided more than ever. With the world being in such an uncertain time, we’ve been left to wonder about all of our insecurities: economic stability, political division, and mental health. One way to combat this division is to unite our senior class under a common goal because we are the future leaders of our country. Now when we need one another most;, we should be the change we wish to see. We need to build a more positive atmosphere at East High School, with an emphasis on our community and how we engage in it.
Engagement starts with us, the students. Seniors need to use our voices and express our ideas again. We can effect change and attack issues that seem insurmountable, but together we can overcome. The bond between students themselves is one thing most affected by this disconnect.
Students leave East as adults ready to take on the world, but the bonds aren't as strong as they could be. I think this could be a result of the lack of activities that unite the students under one purpose. First and foremost students are here to graduate, but in my opinion the connections they make to others are just as important. I think it’s important we get back to the culture that fosters those connections in highschool and you should too. This not only benefits the senior class, but classes to come as well. TRADITION Mutually beneficial is stocking our East High Pantry and getting some East High merch. For one dollar or two cans you can get a t-shirt that reminds us that you are part of something bigger than yourself. DESIGN The pantry at East has helped dozens of families here, and two cans can go a long way to helping them keep it going. This could unite the senior class under a common goal. It’s a great thing to leave behind. East high long after we're gone. LEGACY
A study done by the University of Oxford “Why doing good can do you good” (Howick, 2016) found that doing good deeds could lead to the release of dopamine. Dopamine is commonly linked to feeling satisfaction and motivation. Why would you feel Satisfaction and Motivation after doing a good deed and what are the benefits of this within a community building project? In the same study conducted by The University of Oxford, found that our ancestors (early humans) who participated in altruistic behavior experienced a dopamine high. In turn lowering their risk of blood pressure, heart disease, parkinson’s, ect… to say when we do good deeds not only do we feel good, we suffer less mental stress and less physical stress too.
Community projects consist of a common goal and in most cases that leads to the most successful outcome. According to Team goals why having common goals is important (Brown, 2020). Common goals increase creativity and innovation while bringing people together. When you identify a problem in your community, bringing everyone together allows people to also recognize and develop a fix alongside you. So to recap, doing good deeds has been proven to have a positive impact on our mental and physical health. Community projects, get everyone involved and have the opportunity to get input that can improve an original idea to better benefit the community.
`Adjacent issues consist of food scarcity, general camaraderie and networking of East High’s resources. The pantry at East has helped dozens of families here, and two cans can go a long way to helping keep it going. Stocking our East high pantry: For two canned goods or two dollars you can be part of something bigger than yourself. Helping an East family brings us one step closer to each other. Curing our issue of camaraderie as well. Networking at East high, I've experienced a lot of encounters and I understand it can be hard to get information or know who to share a good idea with. Luckily I've done it and now I can talk about it. Teachers can be the first level of ideas. They are there to challenge your thinking and to develop ideas. In the idea stage are great resources. Next class Advisors, the role that coordinates things related to your entire class. Class advisors can put forth actionable steps that can affect eventual or immediate change.
Half days are great, almost always positive, issues with implementing, its hard to please everyone, you have to be a part of it everyone, there's a scale to community big and small, engagement, building a community is a great way to pass the time because we have to do this… It’s just easier if we get along. A common goal. Having a good goal that people value for the happy ness, The real design of the half days is to learn something but it's like a break from our norm, not school work more about the social goals. (choice, goals, centering community)
A couple years ago my mom and dad split up and I was really going through it. I was angry, I was sad, I was confused, but mostly I was hurt. I was so used to seeing them together and all of a sudden they split so it felt unreal. When I went into school I didn’t want to be bothered. I'll always have my head down and not do anything and if someone touched me I will flip and try to fight them all because of my anger and frustration at home. Eventually I got over it but at the time it was rough. My little brother is also affected by this. Our mom and his dad were married and they got a divorce and that broke him, and now he rarely talks to his dad and rarely sees his dad. He lacks a father figure, after the break up he didn’t really communicate with his dad. He was influenced by the negativity around him and that led him to go down the wrong path. His grades dropped, he isolated himself, He only came out of his room when he was hungry and when he had to use the bathroom.
This is a problem that happens everyday and everywhere. According to Forbes magazine “34% of kids are living with an unmarried parent, 70%-80% of Americans consider their families dysfunctional” (Gourani, Nov 24, 2019).. Therefore, we really don’t know what people are going through. That's why people should be kind to one another. I speak about this now because it’s really affecting students. I see kids skipping class at my school, smoking in the bathrooms, and fighting with frustration and anger. Who knows, maybe that’s their way of showing they need help. Family stability really does play a huge role in how students act in school. All those people need is someone to talk to, a person by their side that they can trust and talk to freely without being judged. That helped me, I believe that’s the cure.
Andre Smith, a social worker at my school said “yes it is a big issue. Most students I speak with have family stability issues that they are dealing with.” Also Andre Smith said “What we normally end up doing is processing situations and circumstances. Solutions can vary. Sometimes it might be putting services in place, but more often we talk about how to make the best of situations that can’t be changed right now and deal with them in the healthiest possible way. It definitely varies depending on the student and situation. Often students need someone to listen and that alone seems to help a lot” (Smith A, 3/23/23).
An adjacent issue is work. Some parents work a lot to put food on the table and to keep a roof over their head. So that leads to the parent not being able to spend time with their child. Fifty-one percent of working fathers and forty-five percent of working mothers spend a little bit of time with their kids due to work. Also when parents work so much, children have behavior problems, poor thinking skills, and they are more likely to be overweight according to my research (Milkie et. al, 2018).
Another adjacent issue is affairs. Affairs impact family stability because It breaks apart parents from their children. 20% to 40% of marriages end in divorce because of a cheating partner. Alcohol or drug use causes about 24% of divorces. Married couples who argue constantly are another reason for divorce; about 57.7% of couples get divorced because of daily arguing (Divorce.com staff, April 12, 2023).
My solution to this problem is to create a support group with counselors and social workers at East. Kids don’t know that they have access to a social worker, I didn’t even know until my senior year of high school. So I think having a support group with counselors and social workers will be a good idea because it’s a way for the kids to have someone to communicate with about their problems and most importantly have someone to trust.
The Problem with Bathrooms
Our Bathrooms Are Gross.
Have you ever walked in the East High bathrooms and it smelled like a sewer or there was toilet paper or water all over the floor? Well this is an issue that all East High School students have to deal with on a daily basis. Not only is the bathrooms nasty and stink, there is a lot of derogatory writing on the bathroom stalls, which have been the cause of alot of drama in the school. Nobody wants to use a filthy bathroom.Nobody should have to. This isn't just happening at East high School. I have been to other schools in Rochester because of basketball and I was enrolled at other schools and some of the bathrooms have been just as bad, not all.
We can address this issue by actually listening to the kids that are speaking out and saying something. Also students need to take responsibility for the way the bathroom looks also, we are just as responsible as the adults. This is an issue everybody should care about, especially students and parents. I will try to interview the janitors and some students about their opinion on why the bathrooms are so dirty. Are there other factors to consider? What can we as students do to make it better?
East high school students have a lot of opinions on the bathrooms and why they are the way they are. A student, Geo, said that he thinks that the reason why their bathrooms are dirty is because “people are slack”. Meaning that he thinks that some students dirty the bathrooms themselves. Multiple other students I interviewed agreed with Geo, that there are students who do not respect the bathrooms. Another student, Eugene, also agreed with Geo but added that the restrooms do not get cleaned as often as they should be getting cleaned.
Faculty have the same issues as students. I interviewed A teacher, Ms. Conroy, and she said, “yea faculty bathrooms are also pretty gnarly”. She went on to say that there was an attempt to keep their bathrooms clean and smelling fresh but overall it didn't work.Another teacher, Ms. Nicholas said that she is the one who attempted to keep the bathrooms clean but they ripped down the paper she put up.She also went on to say that she thinks the janitors don't always come in and keep the bathrooms clean and stocked up . The cleanliness of school bathrooms isn't just a concern at East High school. Students from a school in Westfield, New Jersey also wrote an article about their school bathrooms(Edison Insider).The students expressed that the bathrooms have been going downhill for some time. The writers also interviewed students about what they think and those students voiced that they wished they had more space. Some of their concerns are consistent with the same problems we face everyday.
At the times when the bathrooms were the worst it was a thing on tik tok called the “devious lick” , where students literally all over the world would go into their school bathrooms and vandalize it. This is why many students including myself think that some of the students purposely mess up the bathrooms and the janitors are doing the best that they can seeing as this happens everyday. I have personally heard janitors complain about the way the bathrooms are always extremely dirty.
While others think that the janitors here at East High are doing their best, others feel like the janitors are not cleaning the bathrooms as often, or as good. Eugene and a couple other students said that they only see the difference when the bathrooms are cleaned at night and when they’re not. I spoke to a janitor that I know that doesnt clean East high bathrooms and she said that “I want to clean the bathrooms better, but we can't use bleach or other cleaning supplies that I would use at home. We could get fired. She continued to say that they only can clean the bathroom once a day and she feels that is a problem because there are a lot of students and staff that use the bathrooms.
The broken window theory. This is where a problem occurs and people sees it and they basically add on to the problem because they figure it isn't a big deal.
The Cost of College
College is a great opportunity for people of all ages, especially for students that are about to graduate from East High School and are ready to take the career path that they have chosen.
Some people think that college isn't worth it due to the fact that people aren't able to pay for their tuition depending on what they do for a living.
Tuition is the initial cost that you have to pay for college if you want to graduate with a degree. The cost of most colleges is a major/common issue because most people aren't able to pay for it due to their income and/or are too worried about the cost of college and amassing debt. Another reason this may be an issue is because people feel as if college would be “too stressful” or “too much pressure¨. This issue affects students who aren't too sure about college meaning that this information would cause them to second guess an opportunity of a lifetime. This issue also affects students who want to go to college because although they are all set and know why they are going , they aren't ready to take on amassing debt depending on what they're going there to study. This issue is important to consider and explore solutions to because a great number of young scholars with good potential are choosing not to go to college and instead are working rather than going to college to gain a higher paying job that they will enjoy.
Researchers have cited programs to help with their tuition like scholarships to make it easier for us not to go into debt. We have the 2+2 program, the HEOP program which also helps with tuition. And the ability to enroll into the FAFSA for financial aid. All of these programs have been tried in the city of Rochester and the effectiveness of these programs has opened a massive amount of opportunities. Scholarships and the FAFSA are a really big reason that these programs have worked, being a reason that tuition weighs less on scholars attending college.
We all know that every problem contributes/leads to another as for this case you can consider it an (adjacent issue). An adjacent issue for this certain topic is poverty. Poverty contributes to this issue because people in poverty can't even afford enough money to meet basic needs including food, clothing and shelter which is pretty self explanatory. Another Adjacent issue to add on to this issue is debt. Now the reason that debt is an adjacent issue is because some people want to go to college but aren't wealthy and can't afford to go into debt. One last adjacent issue is the ability to get a loan. Meaning that some people aren't able to pull out a loan due to their age or having a poor credit score or unreliable credit history.
A solution to these problems could be to create programs for people and enroll them into a community college for free for two years. This will improve the problem by reducing the amount of debt that they are gonna have to take on in the end. Another solution to this problem could be to create another program that gives well paying job opportunities with a pay rate of around 19 - 23 an hour while in school or college. Which means that they can save up(Only for college) to take on that tuition. Based on my solutions mostly the students that are in debt would be most affected by this because it causes them to take on less debt. Another solution to this issue would be to give student the opportunity to enroll for the excelsior scholarship which provide residents with free tuition for full-time study.
Teens and Drug Abuse
An issue in the world that feels like its only been addressed a handful of times and very little has been done to prevent it is teen drug abuse which has been affecting teens all around the world for decades for my article this month I looked into teen drug abuse but specifically teen drug abuse in Rochester and how it affects teens lives.
One obvious and pretty big issue with teens abusing drugs is that drugs are a very dangerous substances that many people use to make themselves feel good while either not being aware of the terrible effects on the body or just not caring about the effects. After extensively researching this topic for multiple hours and class periods I could not find any statistics on this topic when it came to rochester and multiple people helped me including my teacher eventually a classmate of mine found should but it seems that even though it is a very serious topic and that it surely affects teens in rochester no one cares about the research on it and only offers rehabilitation which of course helps but the fact that no one in rochester is reporting on the fact and providing the research is a major part of the problem because if no one is reporting on it no light is being brought to it.
After having multiple people help me research this topic the one thing my classmate found was the 2021 to 2022 Rochester City School District Youth Risk Behavior Survey Report which states “27% of students reported they have used marijuana. 18% of students reported they used marijuana in the past month. 38% of students who used marijuana in the past month reported they used edibles.” (Rochester City School District Youth Risk Behavior Survey Report, 2021-2022, p.10). Unfortunately this was only marijuana use they also did research on other drugs which are unnamed stating “12% of students reported they have taken prescription medicines not prescribed by their doctor or took them differently than their doctor’s directions (including pain, sedative, and/or stimulants). 2% of students reported they have used over-the-counter drugs to get high. 8% of students reported that during the past year, they were offered, sold, or given any drugs or prescription medicines, on school property or on the way to/from school.” (Rochester City School District Youth Risk Behavior Survey Report, 2021-2022, p.11). This behavior survey report is only on the RCSD and not Rochester as a whole and i hope that one day that changes and that we can get research on Rochester and no just the RCSD but for the time being this the best thing we currently have there was also a few articles talking about the deaths of teens in rochester due to drug overdoses.
The big problem here is supposed to be teen drug abuse in Rochester but after spending so many hours researching this topic with my teacher and many of my classmates a problem that seems to be almost as bad as teen drug abuse in Rochester is the fact the no one is talking about it or reporting on it and it almost feels like it getting swept up under the rug which is unfortunate teens in Rochester who are struggling and suffering from drug abuse have many places they can for rehabilitation one of those many places being Kids Thrive 585 whose mission is “To provide Peer-Led, Peer Driven services focused on three key areas: Education, Employment, & Social Support Services. Rochester/Monroe Recovery Network is committed to improving the delivery of services to those with substance use disorders, mental health, and criminal justice issues; to reduce the stigma associated with them.” (Kids Thrive 585). And if you wanted to get into contact with them you can call them at (585) 723-7736 and I suggest that anyone who might need help or knows anyone who might need help contact them at the number listed above.