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Need to Know, December 14, 2012: Memphis family rewards

In the next edition of “Your Money and Your Life,” Need to Know travels to Memphis, Tennessee to cover the Family Rewards Program – an initiative that aims to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty by offering cash incentives.

The program rewards low-income families with cash payments for good attendance, good grades, steady employment, and going to the doctor and dentist. The goal is to increase self-sufficiency, create healthy habits and promote savings. Critics ask, why pay families for what they should be doing anyway, and what happens once the money runs out?

The report, which includes an interview with Memphis Mayor A C. Wharton, is followed by an interview with New York Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs. The broadcast ends with an essay by Memphis-born playwright Katori Hall  (“The Mountaintop”) on breaking down assumptions about poverty.

What’s on this week:

Earning Potential

Stacey Tisdale travels to Memphis to examine if the city’s experimental “Family Rewards” program, which offers cash incentives to motivate high school students and their families, is helping to combat poverty.

Interview: Linda Gibbs

Anchor Ray Suarez interviews Linda Gibbs, Deputy Mayor in New York, where Michael Bloomberg is a major backer of the “Family Rewards” program. Gibbs talks about how changing behavior may help lift young people out of poverty.

American Voices

Playwright Katori Hall’s “The Mountaintop,” a musing on Martin Luther King’s last night, played on Broadway. Her play “Hurt Village” takes place in a contemporary Memphis housing project. In this  essay, she addresses breaking down assumptions about poverty.

NewsHour: Mexico’s Oportunidades program

Ray Suarez reports on the Mexican incentive program that served as a model for the Family Rewards programs in New York and Memphis. Participants must first sign a contract to raise healthier, better-educated children.

Martin Luther King Jr., and Memphis

Playwright Katori Hall reflects on the importance of King to the city of Memphis. It was the city where he gave his last speech “I Have Been to the Mountaintop,” in support of striking workers and calling again for a War on Poverty.

A teen in Memphis: The Commercial Appeal reports

Memphis native Chris Dean came into the public eye when in 2011 as an 18-year-old senior at Booker T. Washington High School he introduction of special guest President Obama. Memphis Commercial Appeal editor Chris Peck was interested in Dean’s life before and after Obama’s visit.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.

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