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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KCUR News
8:46 am
Mon October 12, 2009

New Director Of The Heart Of America Indian Center

Kansas City, MO – The Heart of America Indian Center in Kansas City was founded in 1971, making it one of the oldest urban Indian centers in the country. It was founded at a time that many Native Americans were moving off reservations and into cities. The center wanted to provide them with social, cultural and health services. Cheyanne Ingram took over as executive director of the center in August, and is hoping to expand its operations.

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Headlines
2:14 pm
Thu October 1, 2009

Stimulus Funds Raise Ethics Questions in Wyandotte County

Ann Murguia in front of one of ANDA's new houses in Argentine.
Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – Wyandotte County is slated to receive more than $3 million in federal stimulus funding to support the redevelopment of abandoned or foreclosed homes. The Argentine Neighborhood Development Association hopes to use $800,000 of that amount to improve housing in its area. But the head of that organization is also a Unified Government Commissioner and some other commissioners are concerned that it might be a conflict of interest.

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KCUR News
2:48 pm
Mon September 28, 2009

Foreclosures Impact Latino Immigrant Communities

Harvest America's Licha Ybarra discusses mortgage options with Carmen and Luis Amiel.
Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, KS – The foreclosure crisis has brought a particular set of issues to Latino immigrants in the Kansas City area. Because of language barriers and the lack of a credit history, many immigrants are vulnerable to predatory lenders. They haven't faced more foreclosures than other groups. But when they do have housing problems, there are a few places where they can turn for help.

Carmen and Luis Amiel came to Kansas City about three years ago to buy a house.

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The Economy Project
12:18 pm
Mon August 24, 2009

Blue Hills Family Awaiting Decision on Loan Modification

Aquilla and Eliot Clark outside their home. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – In the first six months of this year, foreclosures in Kansas City marked a decline, even while the national numbers continued to rise. But in that time period, according to RealtyTrac, one out of every 122 area homes were in some stage of foreclosure. And in a few neighborhoods, those statistics are much higher. For local families facing foreclosure, the mortgage crisis is personal - destroying the middle class dream of home ownership. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross talked to one such family in the Blue Hills neighborhood.

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KCUR News
12:25 pm
Mon August 17, 2009

NCLR President Janet Murguia Reacts To Sotomayor Swearing-In

Kansas City, MO – Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in last weekend, and on Wednesday, August 12, President Barack Obama hosted a reception for her in the East Room of the White House. As the head of the country' largest Latino civil rights organization, National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia was there. Murguia is from Kansas City Kansas, originally, and used to be Vice Chancellor of the University of Kansas.

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KCUR News
11:42 am
Mon August 10, 2009

K-State Clinic Merges Couples Therapy With Financial Planning

Professors Kristy Archuleta and John Grable are studying the effectiveness of therapeutic and financial planning techniques in different settings. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Manhattan, KS – One of the most common issues that couples fight over is money. And sometimes a financial planner can't help, because there's underlying emotional factors that don't show up on a spreadsheet. But there's a few people in the industry who are trying out a new method they're tentatively calling "financial therapy" - which merges techniques of marriage counseling with financial planning. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross recently paid a visit to a new clinic that's researching this new strategy in Manhattan, Kansas.

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KCUR News
12:47 am
Wed July 22, 2009

Community Testifies On Future Of KCMO School Board

Melissa Eddy testifies before the Joint Committee on Education of the Missouri General Assembly. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – The Joint Committee on Education of the Missouri General Assembly heard public testimony last night, about the governance of the Kansas City school district. Community members talked about whether an appointed board might run the district better than the current elected board.

Over the past year, members of General Assembly have drafted legislation that would create an appointed board, or eliminate the sub-districts. Parent Melissa Eddy heads the organization Do The Right Thing for Kids.

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KCUR News
12:56 pm
Mon July 13, 2009

New Report Links Immigration To Labor Statistics In Midwest

Kansas City, MO – A new report sponsored by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs documents the growth of recent Mexican immigration in the Midwest, and the effect that immigration on the labor pool. The report's author, Rob Paral, was in town a few weeks ago to talk about the effects of this report on immigration reform. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross spoke to Paral about a report that includes data on Missouri but excludes Kansas.

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KCUR News
1:37 pm
Mon June 29, 2009

Journalist Compares Reporting In Uganda To KC

Rodney Muhumuza at his desk in the features department of the Kansas City Star. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross/KCUR.

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KCUR News
11:00 am
Thu June 25, 2009

Cordish Adapts Dress Codes; Some Patrons Adapt Dress

Kansas City, MO – After a little more than a year, the new Power & Light District is drawing tens of thousands of people downtown in a weekend, according to the developers. But with that huge influx has come some controversy. The venues' dress codes and a recently botched concert by a hip hop DJ have led to charges of discrimination. The city has responded by passing laws that limit the use of dress codes. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross stopped by last weekend to see how these restrictions are playing out at the velvet rope.

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KCUR News
2:46 pm
Mon June 22, 2009

Parents React To Proposed School Consolidations

Kansas City, MO – About a hundred and fifty people packed a meeting room at the Kansas City Missouri School District headquarters last week. Many came to protest the closing of about a dozen schools. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross was there.

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KCUR News
10:07 am
Wed June 17, 2009

Parents Concerned About KCMO School Closing Plan

Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.
Audria Royster is going into sixth grade at McCoy Elementary School in Blue Valley.

Kansas City, MO – About 150 people packed a meeting room at the Kansas City Missouri school district headquarters last night. Many came to protest the closing of about a dozen schools. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross was there.

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KCUR News
9:30 am
Mon June 15, 2009

Primitivo Garcia's Double Dutch Dynasty Jumps To The Beat

Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – Double Dutch is a kind of jump-roping with two ropes, plus a lot rhythm and style. It became popular in the 1970s and has been coming back lately. Last month, Primitivo Garcia Elementary School's Double Dutch Dynasty went to Jefferson City to participate in a statewide competition. They were some of the only fifth-graders in a sea of middle school students. Just before school let out a couple of weeks ago, KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross stopped by Primitivo Garcia on the Westside to meet the team and find out what happened.

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KCUR News
11:02 am
Wed May 27, 2009

KCMO Parks Board Approves Skywalk Memorial

Kansas City, MO – Plans for a new memorial honoring the victims of the skywalk collapse at the Hyatt Regency were approved by Kansas City Missouri's Parks and Recreation Board yesterday. The Skywalk Memorial will be a 36-foot landscaped plaza on Hospital Hill, next to Children's Mercy. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross has more.

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Jazz/Blues
10:00 am
Thu May 21, 2009

Playing on All Seven Strings

Cedric Patterson demonstrates his home-made seven-string bass, which he calls Aunt Maple. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Cedric Patterson grew up playing music at his church in Topeka. And in seeking out the perfect instrument for gigs inside and out of the church, he constructed his own seven-string bass guitar.

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KCUR News
4:12 pm
Mon May 18, 2009

Teachers Look Back On First Year In The Classroom

Joe Fox explains long division in his fourth-grade classroom. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

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KCUR News
12:02 pm
Mon May 4, 2009

New KCMO Superintendent Comes With Foundation's Support

Last week, the Kansas City Missouri School Board selected John Covington to be the new superintendent. Covington has accepted the position, pending contract negotiations.

Kansas City, MO – Kansas City's school board unanimously selected a new superintendent this week. It's been 15 months since the previous incumbent Anthony Amato stepped down, at the urging of the board. John Covington (pictured) is currently superintendent of schools in Pueblo, Colorado, and he's worked in some smaller districts in Alabama, where he's from. Covington says he's eager to face the challenges of a large, urban district, and knows he'll be sitting in what's considered a hot seat.

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KCUR News
7:53 pm
Thu April 30, 2009

John Covington Selected To Head KCMO Schools

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Missouri school board unanimously selected a new superintendent yesterday: John Covington, who currently heads a school district in Pueblo, Colorado.

Covington has been in Pueblo for the past three years. Before that he worked in several smaller districts in Alabama; he's from Montgomery, originally. Covington recently completed training at the Broad Superintendent's Academy in Los Angeles. School board president Marilyn Simmons says that preparation will benefit Kansas City's schools.

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KCUR News
8:57 am
Tue April 28, 2009

KCMO School Board Names Two Finalists For Superintendent

Kansas City, MO – Two finalists for the job of Kansas City Missouri schools superintendent were named Tuesday afternoon. The candidates will answer questions at a public forum Wednesday evening at Paseo Academy.

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KCUR News
5:26 pm
Mon April 27, 2009

KCP&L Substation Generates Opposition On Westside

KCP&L originally planned to lease space at the DST Business Park for the new substation. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross/KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – Residents say the highways and railroads cutting through the neighborhood are just the beginning of the area's environmental problems. So when Kansas City Power & Light recently unveiled plans for a new electrical substation on the Westside, some residents started mounting opposition. The plan was narrowly approved by the City Plan Commission this week and should go before the City Council, but KCP&L says it will take a step back and talk to neighborhood residents. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross recently went by to find out more.

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KCUR News
10:42 am
Fri March 20, 2009

My Two Cents: Brent Voepel

Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – The economy may be bad, but that apparently doesn't tame the urge to snack. So when Brent Voepel had trouble finding a new job in Kansas City's advertising industry, he went back to his college gig of selling kettle corn and funnel cakes. He's even brought on a friend, an out-of-work commodities trader. We caught up with Voepel outside the Walmart in Roeland Park, where he was setting up his homemade kettle.

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KCUR News
5:23 am
Mon March 16, 2009

Southeast Kansas City Reacts To Vacant Homes

Kansas City, MO – Foreclosures have spread throughout the Kansas City metro area over the past six months - into central Lee's Summit, north of Independence, and parts of Johnson County. In Wyandotte County, the foreclosure rate has risen dramatically in the past few months. But the biggest total number of foreclosures are still in the eastern part of Kansas City Missouri, around Swope Parkway, and then southeast in the Hickman Mills and Ruskin Heights areas.

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KCUR News
2:07 am
Mon March 16, 2009

My Two Cents: Wilmer McBride

Wilmer McBride at his piano. Photo by Annie Walsh / KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – For about 10 years, Wilmer McBride has lived in southeast Kansas City, near the former Bannister Mall. It's an area that's seen a lot of foreclosures in the past two years. For now, McBride is still meeting his mortgage payments. But since he retired a few years ago, it's become hard to keep up. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross recently paid him a visit.

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KCUR News
10:01 am
Tue March 10, 2009

Kansas City Star Plans To Cut 150 Employees

Kansas City, MO – The Kansas City Star announced yesterday it will be laying off about 150 employees, or 15% of its workforce. The layoffs - which are expected within the week - are part of a move by the Star's parent company, McClatchy, to reduce expenses. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross has more.

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KCUR News
9:53 am
Mon March 2, 2009

Expanding Program Inspires Young Engineers

Students at Rosedal Middle School build gears in Project Lead the Way's Automation and Robotics class. Photo by Sylvia Maria Gross/KCUR.

Kansas City, MO – This week, Kansas legislators announced a new task force to study the state's shortage of engineering graduates. Leaders say there's an increasing demand for skilled engineers in areas such as energy, water and health care, which will play a key role in the state's future economic prosperity. Many colleges find that students who might be interested in engineering aren't academically prepared to succeed in the major. But a new curriculum in Kansas City area middle and high schools, on both sides of state line, is trying to fill the gap.

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KCUR News
5:11 am
Mon March 2, 2009

KCMO School District And Teachers' Union Reach Tentative Deal

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KCUR News
1:19 am
Wed February 25, 2009

Foreclosures Spread To Suburbs

Kansas City, MO – The number of foreclosures in the area continues to mount, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Officials are predicting that the problem will get worse before it gets better.

Many of the first wave of foreclosures were due to subprime loans, and tended to be concentrated in low-income areas. Kelly Edmiston is a senior economist with the Kansas City Fed. He says that although Kansas City's overall foreclosure rate is lower than some other parts of the country, there are some troubling hot spots.

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