Courtney Collins | KERA News

Courtney Collins

Reporter

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.

At KERA, Courtney is lead reporter for the series “One Crisis Away,” about life on the financial edge. Courtney has won awards from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors, Texas Medical Association, Houston Press Club and the inaugural consumer financial reporting award presented by the Public Radio News Directors Inc. and the National Endowment for Financial Education. “One Crisis Away” was also recognized by the Radio Television Digital News Association and National Endowment for Financial Education for excellence in personal finance reporting. Courtney was also part of the team that won a national Edward R. Murrow award in 2017 for Excellence in Video.

When she’s not at work, Courtney loves to read and play outdoors with her husband and wild toddler.

Allison V. Smith for KERA News

As 3-year-old Arian and his mom Lindsay Diaz patiently roll Play-Doh into snakes on the island in their new kitchen, a rumble can be heard just outside their front door.

Crews are taking down a tornado-damaged house across the way — two and a half years after the storm that destroyed it tore through Rowlett.

Allison V. Smith for KERA News

Dallas’ web of interstates and highways transformed the city in the 1960s, allowing people and families to prioritize cars and spread out.

But recently, the “commuter city” identity has been challenged.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

On paper, Natalie Berquist has a good, steady grip on her life. She's had the same job for five years and earns $17 an hour, with benefits. Despite making more than double the minimum wage, she was struggling when we met her five years ago. And now, she’s still juggling work, money and a more complicated version of motherhood.

Allison V. Smith for KERA News

Life hasn't changed much since we visited Jubilee Park three years ago. It's a neighborhood on the financial edge, in the shadow of Interstate 30 in Old East Dallas. Chris Crowley was born and raised there. He's got a better job now, but he's spending 24 hours a week commuting.

Allison V. Smith for KERA News

With a low unemployment rate and hot housing market, North Texas boasts of having one of the country’s strongest economies. But new research on Dallas County from the Communities Foundation of Texas and the Center for Public Policy Priorities paints a different picture.

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The top local stories this evening from KERA News: Hundreds of kids and parents are being separated at the southwest border after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions doubled down on the Trump administration’s efforts to prosecute all cases of illegal entry into the United States.

Jessica Diaz-Hurtado / KERA News special contributor

There’s a lawsuit brewing in West Dallas, where dozens of former renters purchased homes last year.

These low-cost rental properties owned by HMK Ltd. had racked up numerous code violations and were slated for closure after the city of Dallas tightened housing standards.

HMK sold many of those homes to tenants. Now, a lawsuit filed in federal court by two of the homeowners alleges the mortgage contracts are predatory.

Allison V. Smith / KERA news special contributor

Dallas’ first comprehensive housing policy, approved last week, is designed to encourage more affordable housing and disrupt patterns of segregation and gentrification. However, the policy has its critics.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

Tuition will increase at all eight University of Texas system schools this fall, and price hikes might be driving down enrollment. According to a survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education, more than half of U.S. public colleges didn't meet their enrollment goals this year.

One Arlington family decided to study at the community college level instead — and this weekend, they'll finish, together.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

Dallas City Hall Plaza had plenty of foot traffic Saturday, first from students and gun reform advocates in the morning — and later from counter-protesters in the early afternoon.

Both demonstrations were planned in light of the National Rifle Association's annual meeting, held across the street at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

New research shows that even basic digital skills bump earning potential by about 17 percent. And since the auto industry is moving in a digital direction, there are a lot of good-paying jobs to be found there. A few hundred Dallas high schoolers just got to see for themselves.

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The George W. Bush Presidential Center hosted a black tie dinner Thursday night with prominent guests as the backdrop for the presentation of the inaugural "Medal for Distinguished Leadership."

NTSB via AP

Federal investigators are looking into what caused engine failure on a Southwest plane bound for Dallas Tuesday. One passenger died, the first in-flight fatality for the airline. 

A passenger who survived the emergency landing says the experience doesn't even feel real yet.

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It's been 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law. It's designed to protect people from discrimination as they try to get a home loan, buy a house, or rent.

Peniel Joseph with the School of Public Affairs at UT Austin says its legacy has been a mixed bag. He talked with David Brown, host of Texas Standard. 

Allison V. Smith / KERA News special contributor

A new study by the Communities Foundation of Texas and the left-leaning Center For Public Policy Priorities evaluated education, employment, debt, housing and healthcare across Dallas County. 

The data show experiences vary greatly from zip code to zip code.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Whether it's cashing a check, wiring cash to a friend, or trying to borrow money, people living in poverty have a different experience than those on sound financial footing. One North Texas nonprofit aims to close that gap by giving those with financial means, a taste of life without.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

There's a training program in Dallas that wants to match veterans struggling to find work with jobs that actually pay the bills.

Business Insider ranked Dallas-Fort Worth the 11th most "high-tech city" in the world last year, up from 28th the year before. There's plenty of demand for tech workers, just not enough supply.

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT News

Authorities say the suspected Austin bomber blew himself up overnight in his vehicle as a SWAT team closed in on him. Investigators have identified him as Mark Anthony Conditt.

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Access to credit is how most people buy houses, pay for school or get a new car. Borrowing money and paying it back is how people participate in the economy.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has been exploring debt trends in Dallas County. Emily Perlmeter wrote the report, and explains what she found.

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When people are arrested and can't afford to bail themselves out, they can sit in jail for days or even weeks awaiting trial. That may cost them their house, job or kids.

A 21-year-old SMU student is trying to level the playing field by starting a bail fund of his own.

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Childhood trauma and health consequences often go hand in hand. Whether a child is suffering from neglect or living with a substance-abusing or simply overwhelmed parent, over time those stressors can take a toll on the body, and mind.

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The top local stories this evening from KERA News:

The Sixth Congressional District in North Texas is an open seat, for the first time in three decades. 

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Until last month, West Dallas had just one brick-and-mortar bank out on the fringe of the neighborhood, near the interstate.

A new bank branch wants to build a relationship with the heart of the community: low- and middle-income families who've lived there for decades.

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Each day, social workers must decide whether or not the children they visit should be removed from their parents’ homes. It’s a decision that changes the courses of those kids’ lives.

During a recent episode of  KERA's "Think," Naomi Schaefer Riley, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, talked about how we can better harness statistical information to help make these decisions.

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The left-leaning Center for Public Policy Priorities, based in Austin, works on everything from health care to hunger.

Executive Director Ann Beeson lays out the most pressing issues she thinks Texans, especially low-to-moderate income Texans, are up against in 2018.

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The North Texas Food Bank is exploring the link between hunger and bullying. Researchers wanted to find out if kids who are food insecure were more likely to be bullied than kids who got enough to eat, and whether hungry kids are more likely to bully others. 

Government Relations Director Valerie Hawthorne explains the results.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Fewer than 40 percent of community college students get a degree within six years, and low-income students are even more at risk of dropping out.

A Catholic Charities Fort Worth program decided to evaluate whether a mentor makes a difference when it comes to staying in school.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Across the nation and the throughout the state, people took to the streets this weekend. Thousands showed up in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Houston-- and beyond, for the second annual Women's March.

The signs were as diverse as the crowd.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

One Dallas school is devoted to helping its students get hands-on experience with money. Conrad High School is home to many low-income and refugee students, and some of them help support their families financially. Teachers says that means learning about budgeting, saving and investing can't wait.

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A 2010 Washington University study says kids with college savings accounts are seven times more likely to go to college than kids without them.

Woody Widrow with the RAISE Texas organization explains what families on a tight budget can do to carve out room to save.

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