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The Solutions Set: six must-read stories from the last month

   /   Mar 29th, 2014Solution Journalism


Welcome back to Solutions Set, where each month we select some of the most compelling solutions journalism from across the web. Solutions journalism offers rigorous coverage of solutions to huge social problems – this month’s Set spans cancer, childhood trauma, and college access.

Of course, the best posts include suggestions from our Solutions Set community – including what we’ve missed each month. (For more on what we missed, see #6.) We value your insights, delivered via email, on Twitter @DowserJosh, or in the comment section below.

This month’s Solutions Set includes: “pay it forward” college finances…a patch for the social safety net…support for children with histories of trauma…efforts to eradicate one of the world’s worst health scourges…a competition intended to change the lives of cancer patients… and an urban forest with free fruit (no, seriously).

1. Michigan ‘pay it forward’ bill could change the way students pay for college (HuffPo)

A proposal in the Michigan Legislature could launch a new funding paradigm for college – or, at least, a pilot program to test it out. Under the proposal, students would get their degrees for no money up front. However, the students would commit to sending a portion of their income (2% to 4%) back to their alma mater for twenty years or so.

2. For striving students, a connection to money (New York Times)

Should US taxpayers be frustrated with the country’s social safety net? Pulitzer Prize winner Tina Rosenberg argues yes – but not for the reasons you might expect. She chronicles the work of Single Stop USA, an organization that connects the poor with resources that could help break the cycle of poverty.

3. StandProud for polio survivors in the Congo (TruthAtlas)

These are end days for polio, one of the twentieth century’s worst health problems. But in Congo, as many as 12 percent of children under the age of five remain unvaccinated. Pulitzer Center journalist, Kem Sawyer, investigates an initiative that is not only leading the fight to eradicate polio, but raising the visibility of disabled children across the country.

4. Teaching children to calm themselves (New York Times)

In the “solutions-in-progress” file: David Bornstein describes how an entire community can be trained to support kids struggling with traumatic pasts. Though assessment is ongoing, everyone – from parents to teachers to the children – seems to benefit from this novel approach.

5. INTERVIEW: Changing the way the world lives with cancer (

How can we improve the daily lives of cancer patients and their support networks? writer (and Solutions Set friend) Ben Thurman sits down with Katherine McLane to discuss the LIVESTRONG Foundation’s new competition. “The Big C” invites entrepreneurs to launch for-profit organizations that meet the day-to-day needs of those affected by cancer.

6. WHAT WE MISSED: Fast Company’s Ben Schiller describes plans for the Beacon Food Forest in Seattle (Urban Forrest Edition)

Visitors will be able to pluck fruit from the park’s plants at will – and perhaps even partake in the educational programming offered on-site. An imaginative effort addressing community building, sustainability and food systems, Beacon Food Forest should have made it into Solutions Set February.

Did we miss something? Each month we post a piece (or two!) that should have made the prior month’s Solutions Set. Send your suggestions to Josh, @DowserJosh, or post below.

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