Photographer Rachel Mummey noticed an influx of inner-city minority families that were moving to rural, mid-sized towns across the Midwest, while she was pursuing a master’s degree in photography at Ohio University. Ms. Mummey returned to Iowa City and started documenting the families that moved to her hometown. Looking to build a new foundation for the future, the families cited education, work, and safety as key elements that brought them there. Over the past decade, Iowa City schools have attempted to adapt to the rapidly changing demographics.
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Darnell Myers embraces his pit bull in the park at Grant Wood Elementary School in Iowa City, Iowa, near his house. He says there were no such grass fields where the family lived in Chicago. He, his mother, and his siblings moved to Iowa City nearly a decade ago, following other family members who had been displaced after the Robert Taylor Homes housing project was torn down on Chicago’s South Side.
Sophomore Arthur “LeShawn“ McGee meets the horse he will learn to ride at Centaur Stables as part of a program called Urban Dreams, geared toward underprivileged youths in the juvenile-court system. The program lasted a few weeks before funding ran out.
Tajeria Beacham, center, formerly of Chicago, graduated from Iowa City High School and is the first in her family to go to college.
Rachel Sullivan, whose family moved to Iowa City from Gary, Ind., dishes up a pre-prom dinner. She lives with a friend’s family.
A version of this article appeared in the November 09, 2011 edition of Education Week as For City Families, Small Towns a Draw