Geoffrey Canada, CEO, Harlem Children’s Zone
In his 20-plus years with Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc., Geoffrey Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform.
Mr. Canada joined Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc. (then called the Rheedlen Foundation) in 1983, as Education Director. Prior to that, he worked as Director of the Robert White School, a private day school for troubled inner-city youth in Boston.
Since 1990, Mr. Canada has been the President and Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children’s Zone, which The New York Times Magazine called “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time.”
In 1997, the agency launched the Harlem Children’s Zone Project, which targets a specific geographic area in Central Harlem with a comprehensive range of services. The Zone Project today covers 100 blocks and aims to serve over 10,000 children by 2011.
Mr. Canada grew up in the South Bronx in a poor, sometimes-violent neighborhood. Despite his troubled surroundings, Mr. Canada was able to succeed academically, receiving a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and a master’s degree in education from the Harvard School of Education. After graduating from Harvard, Mr. Canada decided to work to help children who, like himself, were disadvantaged by their lives in poor, embattled neighborhoods.
Drawing upon his own childhood experiences and at the Harlem Children’s Zone, Mr. Canada has written two books: “Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America,” published in 1995 by Beacon Press, and “Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America,” published in 1998 by Beacon Press.
In 2006, Mr. Canada was selected by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as co-chair of The Commission on Economic Opportunity. #