Recent Stories

Community Groups Continue to Grapple with Resolving the “Cliff Effect”

The measures passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 “to end welfare as we know it” were heralded as a ticket to economic self-sufficiency. The poor would be encouraged to enter the workforce and eventually leave all welfare assistance behind. But an I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS examination of one of the most important programs in Colorado – subsidized child care – shows the opposite may be happening. Those closest to economic self-sufficiency –  considered to be about 225 percent of the federal poverty level – are endangered by a phenomena called the “cliff effect.” A family’s rising income can lead to a sudden termination of an important benefit, plunging the family more deeply  back into poverty. The I-News inquiry, which resulted in a Rocky Mountain PBS documentary, also shows that tens of thousands of working poor families in Colorado have no real shot at economic self-sufficiency. Continue Reading →

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Secessionists to Colorado: We’re Out of Here!

Colorado would stand to benefit financially and would see some improvement in the educational and economic standing of its remaining citizens if 10 northeastern counties should make good on their threat to secede and carve out a new state of North Colorado. On the other hand, what’s left of Colorado would lose half of its lucrative oil wells, much of its prime farmland and some of the lowest crime areas in the state. Also, Moffat County in far northwest Colorado has a secession vote next month in hopes of joining Wyoming. Can’t we all just get along? Proponents of secession say they are tired of the states rural counties being ignored by a state legislature dominated by urban Front Range interests, and believe they be better off on their own. Continue Reading →

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Colorado Secessionist Movement Faces Political, Historical Hurdles

During the past 12 months, Colorado has experienced devastating wildfires and catastrophic flooding. And next month, voters in 11 of the state’s 64 counties are voting on whether to secede. But secession proponents – and, perhaps most influentially, that would be the Weld County Commission – say it has nothing to with natural disasters. They believe they are being ignored and slighted by the Colorado General Assembly. “What has happened is the urbanization of America has disenfranchised the rural population,” said Jeffrey Hare, one of the organizers of the 51st State Initiative. Continue Reading →

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Colorado gun deaths, homicide and suicide, average 10 per week, week after week

The southeastern Colorado Springs neighborhood is known to the federal government as Census Tract 54.00, one of 1,249 geographically distinct districts in the state. And during the 12 years bookended by the mass shooting tragedies of Columbine and Aurora, 24 residents of Census Tract 54.00 died of gunshot wounds, an I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS analysis of health and census data found. That’s more gun death victims during that span than in any other census district in Colorado. There were 12 homicides and 12 suicides, according to state health department records. Denver had two census tract neighborhoods, both in Montbello, with an equal number of gun homicides and Grand Junction had three tracts with more gun suicides. Continue Reading →

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From Hardship to Scholarship, Metro State Student Realizes Biggest Step Still Ahead

Jennine Jeffries is a woman with an engaging smile, a firm handshake and an articulate yet unvarnished way of telling her own story: Broken and abusive childhood home, a frequent runaway and juvenile delinquent, alcohol and drug addictions as she grew up pretty and was in demand as a bartender, a stint in jail. But her story doesn’t stop there. With determination and hard work, with help from those who believe in her, with an unfading desire to be something more for her four children, she has her life back on course. She’s carrying a shiny 3.97 grade point average at Metropolitan State University of Denver, is a leader in an academic honor society and is a sought after speaker on how perseverance can overcome almost any obstacle. “Given the pain I have put my family through, given the pain I have put myself through, given the struggles I have been through, I want a career where I can help those who are like me, women in transition, women who feel that maybe they’re not worthy, or that they have no hope,” Jeffries, 39, said. Continue Reading →

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Highest Rates of Traffic Fatalities in Colorado Found Along Remote, Rural Roads

If you’re seriously injured in a traffic accident in Colorado, who comes to render aid, how much training and experience they have, and even how long it takes them to arrive will vary drastically depending on where you are. And so will your chances of living and dying. That’s because in emergency medicine, minutes matter. The “golden hour” is a real concept. And Colorado is a state with 82 percent of its 5.2 million people concentrated along the Front Range from Fort Collins to Pueblo. Continue Reading →

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Challenged Family Structure Widens Gaps Between Colorado’s Major Population Groups

In analyzing the widening gaps between minority groups and whites in Colorado on key measures of social progress, there are harsh realities behind the numbers. One is that among homes with children living in poverty, 68 percent are headed by just one parent, typically the mother. Single parenthood is a bigger indicator of poverty than race, according to six decades of U.S. Census Bureau data analyzed by I-News Network at Rocky Mountain PBS. Combined as it often is with curtailed educational and employment opportunities, the rise of the single-parent family is a major factor in the widening disparities between blacks, Latinos and white state residents since the decades surrounding the civil rights movement. The I-News analysis covered family income, poverty rates, high school and college graduation, and home ownership as reported by the Census Bureau from 1960 to 2010. Continue Reading →

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Colorado’s Changing Economy Removed a Major Blue-Collar Path to the Middle Class

Losing Ground – Changing Economy from I-News on Vimeo. Six decades of data from the U.S. Census Bureau offer unmistakable evidence that Colorado is a state with growing economic disparities. An analysis of the data by I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS found that the state’s largest two minority groups, Latinos and  black, are falling farther behind their white counterparts in some of the most important measures of social progress – including family income, poverty, home ownership and high school and college graduation. The analysis, published earlier this year in Losing Ground, also shows that Colorado was a more equitable state than the national average during the first decades reviewed but has evolved into a less equitable state than average in more recent decades.  So why and how has that happened? I-News explored the social phenomena behind the numbers with community activists and politicians, researchers from liberal and conservative think tanks, educators, church leaders and people in the street. Continue Reading →

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Racial and ethnic inequities in Colorado can vary greatly by county

Colorado’s largest minority groups, Latinos and blacks, have lost ground compared to the state’s white residents in some of the most important measure of social progress since the era of the civil rights movement. Those measures includes family income, poverty rates, home ownership and high school and college graduation rates, according to an analysis of six decades of U.S. Census Bureau data by I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS. The findings, published earlier this year as part of the I-News Losing Ground project, are statewide. But there are surprising differences in Colorado’s most populous counties about the extent of the disparities, with some locales being more equitable than others. In Boulder County, for example, Latino families now make less than 40 percent of the median family income of white families.  That’s the lowest rate among the 10 most populous Colorado counties. Continue Reading →

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Success for Single Mom of Two Meant Experiencing the “Cliff Effect”

Losing Ground: The Cliff Effect from I-News on Vimeo. Watch the full documentary “Losing Ground: The Cliff Effect” at The Cliff Effect report is an extension of “Losing Ground,” ( )the I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS report released in January 2013 and published and broadcast statewide by more than two dozen media sources. Jeannett Escarcega has first-hand experience with what it means to suffer the “cliff effect.”

That’s what happens when even a minor raise in family income can lead to the termination of a work support benefit, leading to what often is a big net loss for the family involved. The cliff effect is one reason that federal reforms in 1996 to “end welfare as we know it” haven’t worked as well as they might. Continue Reading →

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Colorado’s largest minority groups lag behind in important measures of health

The past 50 years have seen tremendous advances in medicine and corresponding advances in everything from disease control to life expectancy. But Hispanics and blacks in Colorado have not enjoyed the same benefits as whites, and today the two groups lag behind in one critical measure of health after another. Hispanics, for example, have the highest rate of cervical cancer and other diseases and are above the state average in diabetes and chronic liver and kidney disease. The disparities are even more stark for Colorado’s African American population: Blacks experience an infant mortality rate that is approaching three times that seen among all Coloradans, and they die an average of 3.4 years younger than whites in the state. They lead Colorado in the rates of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Continue Reading →

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New movie about White House butler Eugene Allen rings true, says Denver soul food scholar

Denver resident, author and soul food scholar Adrian Miller is giving the new movie “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” two thumbs up. The film is based on the life of Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served eight U.S. presidents, beginning with Harry S. Truman. In the course of his own creative endeavors, Miller has interviewed White House chefs and looked extensively at the service of African Americans in the back corridors of the White House. “Every president has had an African American chef, either as head chef or as an assistant chef,” Miller said, in reviewing the new film for radio station KUVO’s morning news and public affairs segment. The film stars Forest Whitaker as Allen and Oprah Winfrey portrays his wife in this passage of time story. Continue Reading →

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