The Intersection: What fixes poverty?

DPTV found some answers to questions about poverty’s causes.

Detroit Journalism Cooperative

Despite governmental and non-profit efforts to fix poverty, high rates still exist. As part of the Detroit Journalism Cooperative examination of the issues of poverty in southeast Michigan, Detroit Public Television looked at a program to reduce poverty.

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson is joined by Denise McNair, who used to live in poverty, but worked her way out with help from the Transitions to Success program. McNair has since received her GED, associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees.

McNair was raised by a single mother who worked three jobs to support the family. McNair says regardless of the positive example set by her mom, she dropped out of high school at age 16, started hanging out on the streets and began using drugs. Eventually McNair was incarcerated.  

“I was left doing the things that the community was doing, which was nothing,” says McNair. But she says what spurred a “complete 180” was finding religion, and then getting involved with Project Transition, which taught her professional and life skills. 

“I wanted it. I knew that this was it. I wanted to change in life.”

To hear the full conversation, click on the audio player above.


The work of the DJC reporters on this series can be found at The project is made possible by the Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation’s Renaissance Journalism Project and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.