Harlem Children’s Zone: A Unique Approach to Inner-City Poverty


Courtesy of The www.hcz.org

It has been called “one of the most ambitious social-service experiments of our time,” by The New York Times, the Harlem Children’s Zone® Project is a unique, holistic approach to rebuilding a community so that its children can stay on track through college and go on to the job market.

The goal is to create a “tipping point” in the neighborhood so that children are surrounded by an enriching environment of college-oriented peers and supportive adults, a counterweight to “the street” and a toxic popular culture that glorifies misogyny and anti-social behavior.

In January 2007, the Children’s Zone® launched its Phase 3, expanding its comprehensive system of programs to nearly 100 blocks of Central Harlem.

The HCZ pipeline begins with The Baby College®, a series of workshops for parents of children ages 0-3. The pipeline goes on to include best-practice programs for children of every age through college. The network includes in-school, after-school, social-service, health and community-building programs.

For children to do well, their families have to do well. And for families, to do well, their community must do well. That is why HCZ works to strengthen families as well as empowering them to have a positive impact on their children’s development.

HCZ also works to reweave the social fabric of Harlem, which has been torn apart by crime, drugs and decades of poverty.

The two fundamental principles of The Zone Project are to help kids as early in their lives as possible and to create a critical mass of adults around them who understand what it takes to help children succeed.

The HCZ Project began as a one-block pilot in the 1990s, then following a 10-year business plan, it expanded to 24 blocks and then 60 blocks. The goal is to serve 15,000 children and 7,000 adults by 2011.

The budget for the HCZ Project for fiscal year 2009 is over $40 million, costing an average of $3,500 per child.

Like all HCZ programs, those of the HCZ Project are provided to children and families absolutely free of charge, which is made possible by the support of people like you.

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