Harlem Kids Zone (HCZ) is a nonprofit organization that has targeted poor children and families living in Harlem, which provides free support to children and families, as workshops for parents, a preschool program, three charter schools, and child health programs aimed at the thousands of children and families. The HCZ is "destined for nothing less than to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty for thousands of children and families it serves."
Harlem Children's Zone is an area that covers less than a Square Mile and is home to around 10,000 children. On the ground, the neighborhood is slowly coming back to life, with newly renovated village houses stand next to buildings that have been victims of violence and despair, local businesses with national chains.
But despite all the renovation, nearly all children living in poverty - and two thirds of whom score below grade level on standardized tests. It is, therefore, Geoffrey Canada, graduated from Bowdoin College and Harvard School of Education, has claimed this territory as his own and try to save it, block by block, child by child.
Zone Harlem Children's ambitious project has enhanced the overall system HCZ programs to nearly 100 blocks of Central Harlem, and trying to keep children on their way to school and labor.
"If your child goes to this school, we guarantee that we will get your child to school. We will contact you with your child from the moment they enter our school until they graduate from college," Canada promised in a speech.
Canada's ambitious effort designed to demonstrate that children of poor inner city can learn as well as the rich kids across America. It has flooded the area with social services, health and education is freely available to all children living here.
"We give the middle class and upper middle class children get," says Canada. "We give them peace of mind. What's the pattern. They get academic enrichment. They get a cultural activity. The few adults that love them and them and are willing to do anything. And I think I'm willing to do anything to keep these children on track."
The two basic principles for the project area is to help children so early in their lives as possible and to create a critical mass of the adults around them who understand what it takes to help children succeed.
Components HCZ programs include:
- The Baby College, a series of workshops for parents of children 0-3 years
- All day pre-kindergarten
- Extended Day Charter School (Promise Academy)
- The health centers and community centers for children and adults during the after-school, weekend and summer
- Violence prevention efforts among young people
- Social services such as foster care prevention services