Geoffrey Canada: “I’ve Never Given Up Hope for My Kids”


If you have followed this blog at all you know that I think very highly of Geoffrey Canada, the CEO and President of Harlem Children’s Zone.  He carries an uncanny combination of street smarts and Harvard smarts, and that has led to a lot of innovative and groundbreaking ideas around the allevation of poverty in inner-city America.

He has a new article out that can be read here.  The whole thing is worth reading, but I thought it worthwhile to include here some of my favorite quotes:

On the critical role that education plays in breaking the chains of poverty:

Every day of my professional life has confirmed that education is the key to breaking the cycle of generational poverty.  The problem has been how to educate these poor children who are trapped in a calcified, failing public-education system, and in devastated neighborhoods where failure has become the accepted norm.

On the importance of working together, and not settling for ‘heroic’ ministries that work in isolation of each other:

In neighborhoods across America, community-based nonprofits are talking to each other and with their local schools to create new partnerships with the goal of boosting the educational prospects of poor children.   In some cases, these adults – who all have had the same desire – are working together for the first time.  Many have been doing heroic work – whether they are tutoring high school kids or teaching teenaged moms to raise healthy babies.  But now they are putting it all together, creating comprehensive systems to address the needs of children from birth through college, and aiming to strengthen the families and communities around these children.

And finally, the philosophical centerpiece of the Harlem Children’s Zone – which incidentally I would make a case matches the teaching of Jesus – and how important that is to fighting poverty:

People always ask me how the Harlem Children’s Zone was able to rally a community that had been devastated for decades and the simple answer is making children’s success the centerpiece.  Everyone wants the children in their community to succeed.  So we tapped into that universal feeling and focused our efforts around the needs of children – which were numerous in a neighborhood like Harlem.

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