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.

Ways to Connect

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Last October, when tornadoes ripped through Dallas, a toy store lost its roof and half its inventory. Rebuilding would take it down to the studs, so owners scrambled to find a temporary location and re-launched before the holidays.

The threat of coronavirus means the store is now shuttered again — for the second time in six months.

Marci Pritts / United Way of Denton County

Schools in Denton County just received a $17,000 grant that will re-stock library shelves at 42 low-income schools and childcare centers. The program called the OMG Book Grant will put almost 5,600 new volumes into circulation.

The Dallas Arboretum's Spring festival 'Dallas Blooms' opened over the weekend. This year, the garden hopes to make the event more accessible to visitors with hearing loss by debuting new technology.

The Wall That Heals
Courtney Collins / KERA News

A replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is set up in Garland through the weekend. The long, smooth wall etched with more than 58,000 names spans a section of Audubon Park in the city.

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The Communities Foundation of Texas had its biggest year ever for grants in 2019, and has now surpassed $2 billion in total giving over the course of the organization’s history. 

Courtney Wakefield

Parents who've spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) carry anxiety with them even after their baby is released.

The NICU's constant barrage of doctors and beeping monitors is traumatic — and that trauma lingers.

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After the Great Recession, hundreds of thousands of families lost their homes — but those houses and apartments didn’t disappear into thin air.

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Homeless counts across Texas and the rest of the country are happening this week. Thursday night, volunteers in DentonDallas, Collin and Tarrant counties will tally what's known as unsheletered homeless.

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Texas Health and Human Services is getting a financial boost from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline aimed to help more Texans get the mental health help they need.

Letters to Santa
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For decades the U.S. Postal Service has asked people and organizations to adopt letters addressed to Santa from children in need. This year Austin will be among the 15 cities whose letters are included in the program named Operation Santa.

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A center for homeless men and women in Dallas is hosting a Thanksgiving event that emphasizes dignity. Instead of volunteers serving the homeless on a buffet line, they all sit together and share a meal.

Sam Tasby Middle School
Dallas ISD

Class might be out this week, but students in the Dallas Independent School District can eat breakfast and lunch at school. This year, 24 campuses across the district are open for Thanksgiving Break meals. 

Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

When a family struggles with money, it can actually affect a city's finances.

New research from the Urban Institute reveals that financially insecure families cost Dallas as much as $69 million dollars this year.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

The strongest of last month's tornados hit North Dallas -- and destroyed every single building at North Haven Gardens, a 5-acre family-owned nursery. The storm obliterated about 65% of the inventory. Everything that's left is part of a special "tornado survivor sale."

After serving 20 years in prison, Ed Ates savors life at home with his wife, Kim Ates.
Allison V. Smith for KERA

Two decades in prison is a long time to go without a paycheck. For parents, that's also 20 years of missed childhood moments. Edward Ates feels the full weight of those losses, especially since he's maintained his innocence since day one. 

"Paying your debt to society by being incarcerated is just a simple myth," says Toby Savitz, ex-offender and director of programs at Pathfinders
Allison V. Smith for KERA

After serving two years in prison for possession of meth, Toby Savitz found herself in a series of low-paying jobs with no real path forward. She finally kicked the door open after landing a position at a nonprofit that helps ex-offenders like her. But she admits there aren’t enough jobs like hers to go around.

Marc Wilson standing outside the George L. Allen, Sr. Courts Building in downtown Dallas on Sept. 10, 2019. Much of the child support debt he racked up in prison has been reduced. But he's still far behind, and relief is tempered by feelings of guilt.
Courtney Collins / KERA News

Prison makes it nearly impossible to hold onto savings and earn money. But it's a great place to take on debt.

Before prison, Marc Wilson was set up to pass on wealth-building opportunities to his children and grandchildren, like a house and tuition help.
Allison V. Smith for KERA

When people go to prison, income dries up and earning potential rockets backward.

And when you mix incarceration with America's legacy of systemic racism, an ex-offender's ability to hand off wealth to the next generation is an even heavier struggle.

Allison V. Smith / KERA news special contributor

Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot on Friday addressed the controversial television interview where he discussed Amber Guyger's murder charge, despite a gag order.

Marc Wilson's personal wealth decreased significantly after serving a seven-year prison sentence for drug trafficking. "I'm starting from scratch, you know?"
Allison V. Smith for KERA

As a father, Marc Wilson had his family firmly in the middle class. Then a drug conviction sent him to prison for seven years. 

Courtney Collins

Autumn at the Dallas Arboretum burst into being over the weekend. From now through Halloween, visitors can catch the mammoth display of pumpkins, squash and gourds.

Courtney Collins / KERA news

Close to 1,500 volunteers scattered across North Texas Wednesday to tackle service projects in honor of 9/11.

A team dispatched to Rockwall was determined to clean, organize — and beautify.

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Being short on food or rent money are symptoms of poverty. Going without close friendships or being estranged from family are symptoms of what’s known as social poverty.

Professor Sarah Halpern-Meekin explains the dangers of being socially poor.

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Financial analysts have spent the last several weeks talking about whether a recession is looming.

On a recent episode of Think, host Krys Boyd talked with Ryan Nunn, an economic studies fellow at the Brookings Institution, about why sudden changes in the employment rate might mean a recession is near — or here.

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If someone winds up in jail because an unpaid traffic ticket leads to a suspended license and then an arrest warrant, does that mean being poor is, in one sense, a crime? Georgetown law professor Peter Edelman explores the topic in his new book, and on a recent episode of Think.

Heritage Auctions via Associated Press

Heritage Auctions has a collectible sports jersey up for auction through Saturday. As of Friday afternoon the bid was up to $62,500.

Sports junkies and certain political gurus might be equally interested in this one.

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Texas groups are reacting to the Trump administration's plan to significantly expand a rule that penalizes immigrants seeking permanent residency for using public benefits.

As it stands now, the "public charge" rule applies to people who primarily rely on the government for support through cash assistance, for example. 

Associated Press

A stifling heatwave means the Salvation Army has thrown open the doors of cooling stations across North Texas.

They're stocked with cold, bottled water, and there's plenty of room for people to bask in the air conditioning as long as they'd like.

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Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles and other big cities have struggled for decades to help solve the issues of urban violence and poverty.

On a recent episode of Think, Harvard Research fellow Thomas Abt talked with host Krys Boyd about why violence often furthers financial hardship.

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Almost 40% of homes in Texas are rented, and according to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, finding an affordable one is a struggle. Research shows there's a shortage in Texas of close to 600,000 homes for the lowest income renters.

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