Harlem Children's Zone Breaks Poverty Pattern

Girl works on an assignment i i

hide captionThe children at the Harlem Children's Zone's three Promise Academy schools have an extended school day and year.

Harlem Children's Zone
Girl works on an assignment

The children at the Harlem Children's Zone's three Promise Academy schools have an extended school day and year.

Harlem Children's Zone

For many thousands of inner-city poor, many of them African-American, poverty is handed down from generation to generation. With parents unable to provide for them, children quickly fall behind their grade level, drop out of school, and end up in jail.

As the president of a nonprofit for children in Harlem, Geoffrey Canada saw this pattern first hand. He transformed his organization into a project to attack the roots of poverty and change the lives of thousands of children.

Boys listen to Geoffrey Canada i i

hide captionHarlem Children's Zone president Geoffrey Canada has expanded the HCZ system of programs to nearly 100 blocks of Central Harlem.

Harlem Children's Zone
Boys listen to Geoffrey Canada

Harlem Children's Zone president Geoffrey Canada has expanded the HCZ system of programs to nearly 100 blocks of Central Harlem.

Harlem Children's Zone

Today, the Harlem Children's Zone provides social and medical services, offers parenting workshops, and runs charter schools for the children of its community.

The HCZ's approach includes the Promise Academy Charter Schools, the Beacon Community Centers, and foster care prevention services. In 2008, the HCZ served nearly 11,000 kids, and 100% of the children in the Harlem Gems pre-K program have been found to be school-ready for six years in a row.

"What we're doing is not some kind of brilliant, eureka moment that we had when we figured out how to do this," Canada told host Neal Conan. "We have been talking about these issues, providing comprehensive, integrated services to poor children since I was in graduate school... So we just simply did it. We just decided that the time had come to actually put together all that the social scientists and the educators had been talking about for decades in approaching this problem."

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