One of the Greatest Americans that you have probably never heard of...

Joined Jul 15, 2006

Mr. Geoffrey Canada

The HarlemMiracle

The fight against poverty produces great programs but disappointing results. You go visit an inner-city school, job-training program or community youth center and you meet incredible people doing wonderful things. Then you look at the results from the serious evaluations and you find that these inspiring places are only producing incremental gains.

That's why I was startled when I received an e-mail message from Roland Fryer, a meticulous Harvard economist. It included this sentence: "The attached study has changed my life as a scientist."....

They found that the Harlem Children's Zone schools produced "enormous" gains. The typical student entered the charter middle school, Promise Academy, in sixth grade and scored in the 39th percentile among New York City students in math. By the eighth grade, the typical student in the school was in the 74th percentile. The typical student entered the school scoring in the 39th percentile in English Language Arts (verbal ability). By eighth grade, the typical student was in the 53rd percentile.....

Let me repeat that. It eliminated the black-white achievement gap. "The results changed my life as a researcher because I am no longer interested in marginal changes," Fryer wrote in a subsequent e-mail. What Geoffrey Canada, Harlem Children's Zone's founder and president, has done is "the equivalent of curing cancer for these kids. It's amazing. It should be celebrated. But it almost doesn't matter if we stop there. We don't have a way to replicate his cure, and we need one since so many of our kids are dying - literally and figuratively."
The Harlem Project� (Long read but WELL worth it)

''When I first came here in the early 1980's,'' Canada said, ''we felt that District 3'' -- which stretches from the Upper West Side into central Harlem -- ''ran a system almost of apartheid, where below 96th Street, the schools were doing great, and the schools we cared about were doing lousy.''

Canada's new program combines educational, social and medical services. It starts at birth and follows children to college. It meshes those services into an interlocking web, and then it drops that web over an entire neighborhood. It operates on the principle that each child will do better if all the children around him are doing better. So instead of waiting for residents to find out about the services on their own, the organization's recruiters go door-to-door to find participants, sometimes offering prizes and raffles and free groceries to parents who enroll their children in the group's programs. What results is a remarkable level of ''market penetration,'' as the organization describes it. Eighty-eight percent of the roughly 3,400 children under 18 in the 24-block core neighborhood are already served by at least one program, and this year Canada began to extend his programs to the larger 60-block zone. The objective is to create a safety net woven so tightly that children in the neighborhood just can't slip through.

At Harlem Gems, a program for 40 prekindergarten students at a public school on 118th Street, Keith, who had just turned 5 and was missing a front tooth, sat at a computer working away at ''Hooked on Phonics,'' while Luis, a 19-year-old tutor, gave him one-on-one instruction. A few blocks up Lenox Avenue, at the Employment and Technology Center, 30 teenagers in T-shirts and basketball jerseys, all part of the organization's new investment club, were gathered around a conference table, listening to an executive from Lehman Brothers explain the difference between the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq. At P.S. 76 on West 121st Street, fifth-grade students in an after-school program were standing in front of their peers, reading aloud the autobiographies they had written that afternoon. And over at Truce, the after-school center for teenagers, a tutor named Carl was helping Trevis, a student in the eighth grade, with a research project for his social studies class, an eight-page paper on the life of Frederick Douglass. In a nearby housing project, a counselor from the Family Support Center was paying a home visit to a woman who had just been granted legal custody of her two grandchildren; in other apartments in the neighborhood, outreach workers from Baby College, a class for new parents, were making home visits of their own, helping teach better parenting techniques. A few blocks away, at the corner of Madison Avenue and 125th Street, construction was under way on the organization's new headquarters, a six-story, $44 million building that will also house the Promise Academy, a new charter school that Canada is opening in the fall.

Basically this man has transformed the majority ofHarlem students into "over-achievers" by creating a network of change, comprimised of an award winning charter school system, community outreachprograms, medical services and parental education. He has created a formula that can be replicated all over America and he is currently doing things neverbefore seen in the history of American Education.

''This isn't an abstract conversation anymore. If you want poor children to do as well as middle-class children'' -- not necessarily to be superachievers but to become what he calls ''typical Americans,'' able to compete for jobs -- ''we now know how to do it.'' If he's right, the services he will provide will cost about $1,400 a year per student, on top of existing public-school funds. The country will finally know, he said, what the real price tag is for poor children to succeed.


Joined Jan 10, 2008

on a side note i thought this thread was going to be about jimmy mcperson who helped end world war ii


formerly mac4167
Joined Nov 15, 2008
Def heard of him, more great people like him deserve the respect and recognition. thanks for the post.
Joined Jul 15, 2006
I would love to do something similar for my South Bronx neighborhood, one of the ten poorest communities in all of America.

The standard of living and education is beyond shameful.

Harlem's minority friendly intensive education programs saved my life. The work that this man is doing is literally saving an entire generation in thiscommunity.
Joined Nov 20, 2003
great read. it's good to see people contributing to society in positive ways, building a network of values and education.
Joined Nov 6, 2008
Originally Posted by abeautifulhaze

I would love to do something similar for my South Bronx neighborhood, one of the ten poorest communities in all of America.

The standard of living and education is beyond shameful.

Harlem's minority friendly intensive education programs saved my life. The work that this man is doing is literally saving an entire generation in this community.
could you give me a short explanation as to what he's doing...

im on my phone & i cant read all 10 pages of the article & post in this thread at the same time
Joined Feb 19, 2004
I didn't read it...but basically what he is doing is creating a charter school system. A charter school is funded by state tax dollars, just like regularschools. However, they are assigned a charter length (2,3, 4 years) or so and they have to meet higher academic standards to continue receiving money to be aschool. In exchange for having higher standards, they are allowed much more flexibility in the way they teach students/hours of school etc. An example charterschool would likely have a dress code, longer school hours, much much intense schooling. As studies have shown, kids need structure and a more personalapproach to learning. Great book to read to give more perspective on the subject is, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. A study comparing high wealth, middle weathland low wealth families over a 2 year period when from when the kids were 0-2 showed how much more vocabulary and positive reinforcement kids from highwealth/middle wealth families give than low wealth families. This means, by the time they start preschool kids from low income families are already severelyseverely disadvantaged. The best indicator of this is performance by low, middle and high income during the year and then after summer. Low income kids rarelydo summer learning, whereas middle and high income families support their child's growth during summer months.
Joined Jul 15, 2006
He set up a network throughout Harlem that provides services to almost every needy child in the neighborhood.

His organization goes door to door recruiting parents and children into intensive and persisntent education and health care programs.

A couple of years ago he built a charter school/academy that teaches Kindergarten - 12th grade students how to be successful students and citizens. Takingstudents who were below the 40% percentile in standardized tests and raising them to a level higher equal to or higher than their more privileged counterpartsin the city.

There a lot more to be said but essentially, he is saving a generation of Harlem's children and providing a model that can help rescue many inner cityschool systems and students across America.
Joined Jul 15, 2006
One of the unique things about Mr. Canada's organization is that he hired a billionaire hedge fund manager to run his non-profit like a Fortune 500company, as a result he has been able to collect millions in private sponsorship and revolutionize the non-profit business structure for education programs.

Canada had recently brought on a new board member, a fellow Bowdoin alumnus named Stan Druckenmiller, who, while running George Soros's Quantum Fund, became one of the most successful hedge-fund managers in the history of the stock market, amassing a personal fortune estimated at more than $1 billion. After Canada laid out his proposal to the board, Druckenmiller took him aside and told him that in his opinion he had the right plan but the wrong board. Canada agreed, and the two men politely deposed the chairman and replaced him with Druckenmiller, who set about raising money and recruiting new board members from the higher echelons of Wall Street.

The organization now has a lot more money than it did a few years ago. Druckenmiller paid for about a third of the cost of the new headquarters himself, and board members contribute about a third of the annual operating budget. (The rest comes from foundations, the government and private donors.) In April, the organization held a glittering fund-raising dinner at Cipriani 42nd Street, a cavernous former bank building converted into a restaurant, and raised $2.8 million in a single night, mostly from bankers and stockbrokers. (The 2003 fund-raiser, by comparison, pulled in $1.5 million.)

Financiers and C.E.O.'s are drawn to the Harlem Children's Zone not just because of its mission but also because of the way it is run. In fact, the relationship the organization has with its donors is as unusual, arguably, as the program itself. In the late 90's, Allen Grossman, then the president of Outward Bound U.S.A. and now a management professor at the Harvard Business School, began studying the nonprofit sector from a business perspective. It was a mess, he concluded: in an article in The Harvard Business Review in 1997, he described a hopelessly dysfunctional relationship between foundations and nonprofit organizations, in which foundations made short-term grants to pet projects, nonprofits spent all their time chasing money and each side had a vested interest in maintaining the reassuring fiction that failing programs were actually succeeding. Grossman proposed that philanthropists start thinking more like venture capitalists: searching out nonprofits with innovative long-term ideas, financing them early, insisting on transparency and frequent evaluation and nurturing them along the way with expert advice and continuing infusions of capital.


Joined Mar 31, 2006
Haze waddup

first time im hearing about him and this..but still

change comes through the kids first
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