Series: The American Spirit

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CBS News anchor Katie Couric takes a hard look at some of the critical social and economic issues facing America today — and the unique ways they are being tackled by four individuals — in a series, "The American Spirit," which began Feb. 5 on the CBS Evening News.

Do you know someone who embodies "The American Spirit?" Let us know by e-mailing us your ideas.
Couric reports on extraordinary people whose unique solutions to America's problems have had a major impact on the communities in which they were started, but are now also being echoed across the country.

Some of our previous reports in this series include:

  • Monday, Feb. 5: In her first in-depth interview, Kalamazoo, Mich. school superintendent Janice Brown explains how she has provided free college tuition to more than 350 students after starting the "Kalamazoo Promise" program last year. The city's high school drop-out rate has declined 90 percent since the program was announced and Brown's brainchild is now becoming a national model.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 6: The Institute of Medicine recently estimated that nearly 100,000 people die every year due to medical mistakes. Couric profiles Don Berwick, a Harvard-trained pediatrician and public health expert, who is trying to make American healthcare safer. He says the problem is not a specific virus, bacteria or genetic disease, but the hospitals and the "quality" of the care. To date, Berwick's new, wide-reaching program has helped 3,100 hospitals become safer, possibly resulting in many lives saved.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 7: Recent reports indicate that American and European schoolchildren are losing ground to countries such as China and India, specifically in math. In 2004, James Simons founded Math for America in an effort to keep American students competitive. By increasing the number of America's teachers that are properly trained, the organization has made significant inroads in addressing a simple but profound problem — nearly 40 percent of all public high school math teachers do not have a degree in math or a related field.

  • Thursday, Feb. 8: For years, studies have shown that more women are getting the top jobs in corporate America. Former Wall Street executive Janet Hanson is the founder of 85 Broads, a first-of-its-kind organization to help women get ahead in the workplace by creating mentoring network. The groundbreaking program has reached thousands of women worldwide and become the success model for other business networks.

  • Thursday, March 1: Southeast Washington is one of the poorest inner-city areas in America — and perhaps the last place you'd expect to find a 160-acre neighborhood of renovated apartments and gleaming town homes built by developer Chris Smith. 210 homeowners are now living there and have created, collectively, about $40 million in wealth.

  • Monday, March. 5: If disaster strikes, you may get a visit from volunteers from around the country. They're all part of a Christian non-profit organization called ACTS — Active Community Team Services. David Canther, a preacher who left the pulpit, founded ACTS three years ago.





    Do you know someone who embodies the "American Spirit"? Let us know by e-mailing us your ideas. We may feature your story idea on a future CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.
    • Michael Wuebben

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