Driven entrepreneurs, transgender kids, and healthy food systems: Best of Michigan Nightlight 2016

Before we launch into another year of stories about the issues, people and programs that impact local kids, we wanted to revisit the best-read 2016 Michigan Nightlight stories – from Battle Creek to Kalamazoo and all points near. (Michigan Nightlight is our series of solutions-focused stories about improving outcomes for vulnerable children.)  

This May piece on LGBTQ policies in Kalamazoo schools presented a case for tolerance, understanding, and acceptance – and deconstructed some myths that persist around LGBTQ issues. Sarah Leineke, a ninth-grade math teacher at Loy Norrix, and an advisor for the school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance student organization, was interviewed for the story: "I didn't really even know that much about what it means to be trans and the trans experience and trans issues … it's really interesting how quickly we can change our mindset just by talking to people and listening to people."

Two other popular stories showcased food systems work. The feature on Rachel Bair and Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Food Innovation Center looked at how southwest Michigan’s local and regional food system is being rebuilt, using new ways to get food from farms to markets to consumers. 

And the farm to school story that ran in the fall investigated how a Migrant Head Start program brings fresh, local food to Sparta’s youngest learners and why a superintendent in Boyne Falls Public School System procures locally grown produce for student lunches.

Finally, the article on Battle Creek Business Bootcamp for food entrepreneurs was also a top read. The story looked at what business owners – from a taco restaurateur to farmers to an ice cream maker – gleaned from the training and how that knowledge hopefully will be a bridge to success. 

If you haven’t had a chance to read these pieces, please do. We look forward to bringing you more Michigan Nightlight stories in 2017. 

This article is part of Michigan Nightlight, a series of stories about the programs and people that positively impact the lives of Michigan kids. It is made possible with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Read more in the series here.
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