By guest blogger Alyssa Morones
The Harlem Children’s Zone will soon have a new leader, with the current chief executive officer and face of the organization, Geoffrey Canada, planning to hand over the reins July 1 to Anne Williams-Isom, the current chief operating officer, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc., an anti-poverty, education-focused program, was founded in 1970. Canada has served in his role as CEO since 1990.
Canada, 62, is a strong advocate for a comprehensive approach to combating poverty, arguing that the solution is to be found in more than a set of isolated programs. Raised in the South Bronx, Canada drew on his experiences to design programs meant to break down the culture of poverty.
In his work with the Harlem Children’s Zone, Canada spearheaded the Harlem Children’s Zone Project, in which he focused on 97 blocks in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood to try to work with the entire community to provide support to people of all ages, through pregnancy and parenting classes, academic support, after-school programs, and college counseling. In 2009, a study found that the organization was helping to close the black-white achievement gap in most education categories for students within the zone. Last year, the project worked with more than 12,300 children and 12,400 adults, according to the Journal.
Then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg selected Canada in 2006 to co-chair the city’s Commission on Economic Opportunity, and in 2012 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed him to the New York Education Reform Commission.
The Harlem Children’s Zone also reached a national stage when President Barack Obama modeled a national program after it, called Promise Neighborhoods. Canada will remain as president of the Harlem Children’s Zone’s board.
Photo: Geoffrey Canada, president and chief executive of the Harlem Children’s Zone, arrives at the premiere of the documentary film “Waiting for Superman” in Los Angeles in September, 2010.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.