How can Rochester achieve an inclusive recovery following the pandemic? ACT Rochester will explore that question at an upcoming event.

We preview that program and talk with national representatives from the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institute about their recommendations for Rochester. Our guests:

  • Ann Johnson, executive director of ACT Rochester
  • Simeon Banister, vice president of community programs at the Rochester Community Foundation
  • Tina Stacy, principal research associate for the Urban Institute

Rochester City Council member Mitch Gruber and University of Rochester professor Stewart Weaver say the university has recently made strides when it comes to meeting moral obligations, but it can do much more when it comes to those responsibilities in the community. They've written an op-ed for the Democrat and Chronicle about gaps they see.

They join us to discuss their perspectives on the university's role in the community. We also address how other large local employers factor into this issue. Our guests:

  • Mitch Gruber, member of Rochester City Council
  • Stewart Weaver, professor of history at the University of Rochester, and president of the UR chapter of the American Association of University Professors

Note: Following this conversation, we will invite University of Rochester leaders on the program to respond.

Research shows fewer high school seniors have applied to college during the pandemic, and the students who have been impacted the most are those from lower-income backgrounds. The data indicates that these students were more likely to be affected by financial challenges related to the pandemic, and also by direct health risks from the virus. Experts say the current disparity will contribute to education and wealth gaps in the long term.

What can be done? Our guests explain the challenges and share their ideas for how to support students. Our guests:

The Biden/Harris campaign says its proposals could cut the poverty rate in American in half. As reported by Vox, the measures “could add up to the biggest anti-poverty plan in decades.” The plans include making Section 8 housing vouchers universal, a $3,000-a-year child allowance, and tax credits for low-income households. The Center on Poverty and Social Policy reports that if that plan had been adopted in 2018, more than 20 million people would have been lifted out of poverty.

We discuss the proposals and the impact they could have. Our guests:

  • Pete Nabozny, policy director at The Children’s Agenda
  • Kent Gardner, chief economist for the Center for Governmental Research
  • Jessica Fleming, single mother of two

We look at some hard facts about our city and our community. "Hard Facts" is the name of a 2017 report on inequality, and this week, there's an update. The 2020 Hard Facts report does not offer a much brighter picture. Our community continues to see massive disparities when it comes to educational and economic opportunities. Those disparities tend to fall along racial lines.

The authors of the report join us to discuss the roots of these inequities, the data itself, and what can we do to create systemic change. Our guests:

  • Ed Doherty, principal author and researcher of the Hard Facts Update
  • Simeon Banister, vice president of community programs at the Rochester Community Foundation
  • Ann Johnson, executive director of ACT Rochester

Chris Arnade is a writer whose work focuses on the American communities most likely to be ignored by political leaders and big media. He travels to the most impoverished neighborhoods, and he gets to know people who live there. His work culminated in a book called "Dignity".

Before the pandemic, we intended to speak with him about this remarkable book. Now his work is even more urgent, with the pandemic threatening to tear through the most vulnerable parts of society. Arnade asks us to reflect on our own advantages and the ways we judge others. He's our guest for the hour:

Low-income families are in a particularly vulnerable spot as the coronavirus spreads. If schools close, where can kids get meals? What happens for families that are already deeply struggling?

Our guests explore what’s already happening, and what could come next. In studio:

Representatives from the Rochester-Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative say the project’s adult mentoring programs are showing signs of success. The Democrat and Chronicle reports that one of the programs showed an average increase in employment of 110 percent, and that the average earned household income increase by 118 percent.

Program leaders say the mentoring model is helping families find their way out of poverty. This hour, we sit down with one of the mentoring pairs who share their story. We also hear about the program’s broader impact and the lessons project directors have learned. In studio:

Noelle Evans / WXXI News

The Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, (RMAPI) is out with its policy agenda for this year, calling for actions that organization hopes can help address the root causes of poverty.

They include a call to state government to do more to help working families, by helping them find ways to pay for childcare, and providing better transportation choices.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said it’s important to realize that a lot of people living hand-to-mouth are already working multiple jobs.


The New York Attorney General has announced a new statewide initiative against housing discrimination. 

Attorney General Letitia James launched an online resource to report housing discrimination against people who receive government assistance. That includes housing vouchers, welfare, and those who receive child support.

“Every New Yorker deserves safe and decent housing, regardless of their lawful source of income,” James said in a statement.