Sylvia Maria Gross

Reporter, Producer & Co-Host of KC Currents

Sylvia Maria Gross co-hosts and produces KC Currents, an award-winning weekly news magazine that covers news and culture in Kansas City’s diverse communities. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, The World and Studio 360. Gross grew up in New York City, Brazil and the suburbs of Washington, DC. She studied English at Yale University, and then spent a year researching arts education in Brazil on a Fulbright grant. When she returned from Brazil, she taught middle school math and English while completing a master's degree in journalism at Columbia University in New York City. She reported in New York about education and culture before moving to Kansas City in 2004.

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KC Currents
8:19 am
Fri January 10, 2014

Undocumented Youth, Concealed Carry, Alvin Sykes

Edher Palafox was co-captain of his football team at Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Kan.
Credit Courtesy / Palafox family
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Immigration
10:47 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Deferred Action Immigration Program Leaves Detained Kansas City Man In Limbo

Edher Palafox talks with KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross via video phone from the Missouri jail where he is being detained.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Update, 3:32 p.m.
Edher Palafox was released from ICE custody Thursday afternoon, his lawyer said in an email.

The original story appears below:

It’s been a year and a half since President Barack Obama announced an executive order that could potentially transform the lives of many undocumented immigrants.

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KC Currents
8:00 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals Offers Future To Undocumented Youth

DREAM Act Protesters during President Obama's Visit to Austin on May 10, 2011
Credit Tood Dwyer / Flickr -- Creative Commons

On June 15, 2012 President Barack Obama signed a memorandum called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Under this mandate, young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children can apply to attend public universities, get driver licenses and work legally.

However, DACA offers no path to citizenship and its future is uncertain.  

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KC Currents
5:06 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

KC Food Hubs, Missouri Executions, Mariachi Pioneer Dies

Credit Courtesy of Mariachi Estrella

Food Hubs Try To Grow Local Farms

Restaurants across the country have jumped on the local food bandwagon. They’re trying to source more of their produce from nearby farms, but it's not easy. As a potential solution, “food hubs” are popping up across the country. These food processing and distribution centers make it easier for restaurants, grocery stores and others to buy local food.

A Look At The Food Hub Trend In Kansas City

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Music
10:20 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Remembering Kansas Mariachi Pioneer, Teresa Cuevas

Teresa Cuevas plays her violin in a 2008 photo.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Mariachi musician and founder of a groundbreaking all-female mariachi band, Teresa Cuevas, died late last year at the age of 93.

Cuevas founded Mariachi Estrella with seven other women from her church choir in 1980. They became a regional phenomenon, trading the mariachis' traditional black pants for long maroon shirts. The band played shows all over Kansas.

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KC Currents
10:02 am
Thu January 2, 2014

A Look At The 'Food Hub' Trend In Kansas City

Food hubs in Kansas City help small farmers distribute their products to restaurants, grocery stores and larger institutions.
Credit USDA.gov / CC

The popularity of locally-grown and raised food in Kansas City continues to grow. But local food producers often have a hard time selling to restaurants, grocery stories and institutions like schools and hospitals. Local farmers often don’t have the volume or variety to compete with larger farms and food distributors. Even for those institutions willing to pay more for locally-sourced food, the infrastructure is lacking.

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KC Currents
11:31 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Looking Back At Some Significant Kansas City Stories Of 2013

A plume of smoke rose above the Country Club Plaza after the explosion at JJ's Restaurant.
Credit Frank Morris / KCUR

KCUR's Top Stories Of 2013

KCUR’s afternoon newsman Steve Bell gives us a preview of his 2013 Year in Review, in which he goes over the most significant local stories of 2013: from the gas explosion on the Country Club Plaza to the unexpected prowess of KC’s sports teams.

National Attention Turns To Maryville

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KC Currents
7:55 am
Fri December 20, 2013

Hallmark, Boxer Tommy Campbell, Panhandler’s Life-Changing Year

Kansas City, Ks. native Tommy Campbell was known as the "Chocolate Ice Cube."
Credit Courtesy of Phil Dixon

Hallmark Cookie Exchang Feeds Artistic Community

Since the mid-1960's, Hallmark employees, past and present, and their spouses, have gathered each year - not for an exchange of greeting cards, but of cookies. KCUR’s Julie Denesha stopped by this year’s cookie exchange to bring us this audio postcard.

As Greeting Card Sales Decline, What Is The Future Of Hallmark?

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KC Currents
8:32 am
Thu December 19, 2013

As Greeting Card Sales Decline, What Is The Future Of Hallmark?

Credit Nayukim / Flickr -- Creative Commons

For a number of years the greeting card industry has seen a drop in revenue. Hallmark, including its subsidiaries, had sales of $4.4 billion in 2007, but as of 2012 their revenue had fallen to $4 billion.

On KCUR's news program KC Currentswe took a look at some of the inventive ways Hallmark is trying to shore up it's declining greeting card sales and we discussed the impact Hallmark continues to have on Kansas City.

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KC Currents
4:42 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Tech KC: History, Startups, Digital Divide

Google Fiber has set up a display room in Westport.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR
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KC Currents
9:12 am
Thu December 12, 2013

How Far Has Kansas City Come As A Tech Town?

The Home for Hackers in the Kansas City Startup Village welcomes tech developers from around the country to live rent free for three months and experiment with a gigabit internet connection.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Long before Google Fiber arrived in 2011, Kansas City has had a thriving technology sector, with cutting-edge companies like Cerner, Garmin and Sprint (whose roots go back to 1899 in Abilene, Kan.). Many of these companies have spawned other technology startups, which you can see on this impressive KC tech genealogy map.

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Kansas City Public Schools
2:47 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Court Upholds Law Allowing Transfers Out Of Kansas City School District

Troost Elementary School, in Kansas City Public Schools, is one of the schools from which students could transfer.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

The Missouri Supreme Court has cleared the way for students to transfer out of the unaccredited Kansas City Public Schools. Starting 2014-2015, KCPS will be required to pay tuition and transportation costs for students who transfer to neighboring school districts.

Five Kansas City area districts had challenged the 1993 state law allowing the transfers. They argued it is an unfunded mandate. But the Supreme Court ruled that the law just shifted responsibility for educating students among school districts.

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KC Currents
8:36 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Keeping Kids Safe And Engaged On School Buses

Credit Twix / Flickr -- Creative Commons

 When a school bus crashes in Kansas City, parents begin wondering how safe school buses really are, and whether they should be required to have seat belts.

It turns out that school buses are by far the safest way to get children to and from school (even counting walking).

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KC Currents
8:33 am
Fri December 6, 2013

School Bus Innovations, Chocolate Me!, Sporting KC

Ernest Garner drives this school bus for Crabtree Transportation in the Belton School District.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Keeping Kids Safe And Engaged On School Buses

We discuss what it takes to be a school bus driver, how safe buses really are, and some innovative new programs to keep kids engaged while they're on the bus, and make the most of what’s usually down time.

Tell KCUR: Sporting KC Fans Get A Kick Out Of Connection To Team

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KC Currents
8:00 am
Sat November 23, 2013

How Janelle Monae Discovered Her 'Inner Weirdo' In Kansas City

Janelle Monae credits her Kansas City Kansas roots for helping develop her music, writing, personal style and passion.
Credit Marc Baptiste / Courtesy of Atlantic Records

At 28, rising pop star Janelle Monae has collaborated with musical royalty, like Erykah Badu and Prince. Last summer, she was featured in Fun’s runaway hit We Are Young, and recently played Saturday Night Live, with songs from her new album Electric Lady, which debuted as number 5 on Billboard’s 200

But the Kansas City, Kan., native had her first local headliner at the Uptown Theatre on November 15. It was a boisterous, sold-out party attended by dozens of her family members and former teachers.

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KC Currents
5:06 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

KanCare, Heritage Turkeys, Janelle Monae

Heritage turkeys roam freely at Good Shepherds Poultry Ranch in Lindsborg, Kansas.
Credit Esther Honig / KCUR

KanCare Means Big Medicaid Cuts For Prairie Village Man

Finn Buller was born with a rare degenerative disease that has required a lot of complicated medical care including 24/7 in-home care. Now, as Kansas privatizes the state's Medicaid, Buller has found the services he depends on may be getting cut back.

Is KanCare Working?

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KC Currents
9:53 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Is KanCare Working?

Credit Christos Doulkeridis / Flickr--Creative Commons

At the beginning of the year, Kansas launched KanCare, the first fully privatized managed care system for delivering Medicaid coverage. It was introduced as a way to cut costs, but some people are finding the cost-cutting is coming at expense of services.

On KCUR's news program KC Currents we discussed how well KanCare is meeting its goals and what plans there are to address concerns. 

Guests:

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KC Currents
5:33 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Should Entertainment Venues Encourage Cell Phone Use?

Credit Jgoge / Flickr -- Creative Commons

Should entertainment venues, like theaters, sports arenas and music halls allow smartphone use?

More than 56 percent of Americans own smartphones and many use them at events like concerts and movies, or at least try to.

Rather than discourage or prevent their use, some venues in Kansas City are trying to take advantage of the new connectivity.

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KC Currents
11:11 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Slaughterhouse Shadows, Missouri Lobbying, Post Office Veterans' Display

Mumino Abdullahi, seated here with her family, is a 26-year-old Somali refugee who trains workers to debone, cut and pack chicken at the Tyson plant in Noel, Mo.
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media / KCUR

Chasing The American Dream In Rural Kansas And Missouri

For many generations, meatpacking plants in Kansas City were a place where immigrants found a foothold in U.S. society. Now, these plants have moved to rural areas, and the children of immigrant and refugee workers face more challenges in getting an education and pursuing their dreams. Harvest Public Media asked young people in Noel, Mo. and Garden City, Kan. about their aspirations.

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KC Currents
10:05 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Children Of Immigrant Meatpackers Find Opportunities In Rural Areas

Binh Hua (left) and My Nguyen (right), both 18, are best friends, whose Vietnamese parents work at the Tyson beef plant. They finished high school in three years and are hoping to have associate degrees by next year.
Credit Peggy Lowe / Harvest Public Media

For many generations, meatpacking plants in Kansas City were a place where immigrants found a foothold in U.S. society. They worked difficult and dangerous jobs in those slaughterhouses, often with the hopes of securing a better future for their children.

In recent decades, meatpacking plants have continued to employ immigrants and refugees. But the plants have moved out of urban areas, and into rural towns, where there’s less of a support system for those immigrants and their children.

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KC Currents
4:01 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

West Bottoms Future, Zombie Queen, Haunted Creepys

The Zombie Queen walks on stilts for Kansas City's annual Zombie Walk.
Credit Shane Linden / P.S. Linden Photography

How Haunted Houses Helped Develop The West Bottoms

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, thousands of people flocked to the historic West Bottoms neighborhood to tour Kansas City’s haunted houses. And while these houses are known as some of the oldest and most terrifying attractions in the country, you might not know that they’ve also been major contributors to the development of the former stockyards district. But not everyone thinks they should be part of the future of the West Bottoms.

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KC Currents
9:19 am
Thu October 31, 2013

The Mysterious 400-Year-Old Band That Haunts Kansas City

He Who Bought The Farm would not publicly reveal himself at KCUR. He says he has no head, and wouldn't explain what holds up the hood.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

Almost every year around this time in Kansas City, a musical phenomenon rises up at area bars. A mysterious band called the Haunted Creepys tends to perform around Halloween, and whenever Friday the 13th rolls around. 

The Creepys wear colorful robes and hoods with black netting covering their faces, and they claim to be a 400-year-old band of undead musicians from Transylvania who play original numbers such as Phantom of the Pipeline, Skiffle Haunt and Hairy Tomato.

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KC Currents
7:25 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

What Should The West Bottoms Look Like?

The Union Depot was Kansas City's original train station, located in the West Bottoms. The building was torn down in 1915.
Credit Wikipedia / Google Images -- CC

The West Bottoms is an industrial area directly west of downtown Kansas City, located at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers.  It is one of the oldest areas of the city, and the original home of two of the region's key industries: beef and railroads.

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KC Currents
11:31 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Youth Mental Health, Chiefs Windfall, Meet The Penguins

Penguins in the cold temperature section of the new exhibit at the Kansas City Zoo.
Credit Esther Honig / KCUR

Bistate Conversation About Youth Mental Health

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama called for a national conversation on mental health. Kansas City was chosen as one of ten cities to host a dialog in a program called Creating Community Solutions. On Saturday,  September 21,  two mayors and some 360 participants spent the day discussing how to improve mental health in metro Kansas City, particularly among young people. Hear voices of young people at the event.

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KC Currents
9:21 am
Fri October 25, 2013

Meet The New Penguins At The Kansas City Zoo

Three species of penguins live in the cold weather section of the exhibit.
Esther Honig KCUR

About 50 penguins are settling in to their new home at the Kansas City Zoo, as the Helzberg Penguin Plaza opens to the public October 25.

Kansas City Zoo director Randy Wisthoff says one of his first ideas when he arrived here ten years ago was opening a penguin exhibit. From his experience at the Omaha Zoo, he knew they were crowd pleasers.

"We hate to say it in the zoo world, but they are cute," Wisthoff says. "They do look like people.  And they’re fun in water and out of the water."

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KC Currents
9:52 am
Thu October 24, 2013

How Do We Improve Youth Mental Health?

Credit Flickr/canonsnapper

For many of us, our teen and young adult years can be some of the hardest years of our lives. Just as dramatic physical and hormonal changes occur, so do questions about identity, belonging, autonomy and purpose.

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KC Currents
11:01 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Raising Bilingual Kids, Maryville Rape Case, Mike Stover

A kindergarten teacher at the Kansas City Chinese School points to characters on the white board.
Credit Beth Lipoff / KCUR
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KC Currents
10:20 am
Thu October 17, 2013

7 Tips For Raising Bilingual Children

Credit Prayitno / Flickr - CC

For many generations, immigrants to the United States wanted their kids to learn English, and English only. For them, total assimilation into American culture was the key to success. But in an increasingly diverse and globalized country, being bilingual is now more often seen as an asset.

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KC Currents
11:22 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

KCPS Accreditation, Medical Apps, Lupe Gonzalez

Kindergartners at James Elementary use laptops in the classroom.
Credit Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR

How One Kansas City Public School Is Improving Scores And Making Change

Visit James Elementary School, in Kansas City's historic Northeast neighborhood, which has seen substantial improvement in student test scores. So much so that the school recently landed on Missouri’s list of most-improved low-income schools. 

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Education
9:12 am
Thu October 10, 2013

How One Kansas City Public School Is Improving Scores And Making Change

Fifth grade teacher Cathey Dodd helps students Britney Jimenez and Kevin Perez.
Sylvia Maria Gross KCUR

It seems like every time there’s been a glimmer of hope for the unaccredited Kansas City Public Schools, those hopes are dashed. In August, KCPS made a remarkable improvement in its report card from the state, meeting the numerical cutoff for provisional accreditation. But in September, Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro recommended that the district stay unaccredited until it shows it can sustain these improvements.

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