Grit is the 'biggest tool' for a better life

Chaunsae Dyson in a bedroom cluttered with his grandmother's belongings.

(Photo: For CPR/Kevin Moloney)

 For many kids growing up in poverty it’s hard to understand life outside their world. But Chaunsae Dyson had his eyes opened through a program called Project Voyce, which he joined when he was at Manual High School. It’s an organization that helps youth communicate with teachers, advocate for themselves in schools and find their voice. “They said I had a big heart, and I didn’t know that,” Chaunsae says. Project Voyce staff taught him to channel his anger, to think before he speaks, and they taught him grit. More here

A fight over contraception

Rep. K.C. Becker wore earrings shaped like IUDs during the debate over funding the Colorado Family Planning Initiative.

(Photo: CPR/Megan Verlee)

A bill to fund a program credited with significantly reducing the teen pregnancy rate is expected to face opposition over the kind of contraception it provides, including IUDs and implants. Gov. John Hickenlooper and state health officials credit the Colorado Family Planning Initiative with a double-digit drop in the state's teen pregnancy and teen abortion rates over the past five years. But some conservative politicians say IUDs cause abortions -- a belief at odds with mainstream medical definitions -- and don’t want to spend state money making the devices available. More here.

'Racing Extinction'

Filmmakers projected images of endangered species all around New York City to raise awareness about the issue and the film "Racing Extinction."

(Photo: Courtesy of Racing Extinction)

In the next century, up to 50 percent of the species on Earth could be lost, according to scientists in Academy Award-winning director Louie Psihoyos' new film, "Racing Extinction." The Boulder filmmaker’s new work debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, and will screen three more sold-out shows before the festival ends this weekend. Dr. Stuart Pimm, a conservation ecologist at Duke University, one of several scientists featured in the documentary, says, “Each year, about one in a million species should expire naturally. In the next few decades, we’ll be driving species to extinction about a 1,000 times faster." More here.

Worrying heroin trend

Pictured are the rates of overdose death per 100,000 people in Colorado.

(Megan Arellano/CPR News)

Nationally, fatal heroin overdoses have risen again, this time by 39 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Colorado is no exception to the trend. The number of heroin overdose deaths here rose from 91 people in 2012 to 118 people in 2013, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. It's all part of an opioid epidemic in which very strong prescription painkillers -- Percocet, Oxycontin, Vicodin and other medications-- are being abused. And as the country tightens access to pain pills, some are turning to heroin. More here.

The Queen of Pain

Champion mountain biker Rebecca Rusch competing at the Leadville 100 in Colorado.

(Photo: Courtesy of Glen Delman)

When your nickname is "The Queen of Pain," you probably have some good stories, and Rebecca Rusch, who's won Colorado's Leadville 100 mountain bike race four times, proves that's true in her new memoir, "Rusch to Glory." She tells Colorado Matters that she got the nickname from her peers during her adventure survival racing days. Rusch competed on multi-day races all around the world, and in the book she describes the pain she endured as she moved from transitioned trekking, rock climbing, biking, swimming -- and sleeping just an hour a night. More here.

All income growth in Colo. goes to 1 percent 

This map shows how income growth has been distributed among earners from 2009-2012. Darker colors indicate higher growth among top earners. 

(Map: CPR/Nathaniel Minor)

Though the Great Recession hurt everyone's pocketbooks, new research says the ensuing recovery has largely benefited the top 1 percent of earners in Colorado. In fact, Colorado was one of 17 states where all income growth from 2009 to 2012 went to the top 1 percent. That's according to new research published Monday from the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that focuses on low- and middle-income American households. More here.

Hickelooper's goals for the arts

Governor John Hickenlooper with String Cheese Incident

(Photo: CPR/Daniel Mescher)

According to a new federal government survey by the National Endowment for the Arts, Coloradans visit more theaters, concert halls and museums than the residents of any other state. But arts organizations will have to compete with key issues like education, housing and energy if they want to get the attention of the state Legislature this session. CPR’s arts editor Chloe Veltman spoke with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper about how he plans to maintain the state’s cultural momentum as he begins his second term. More here.