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Harlem Children’s Zone CEO will get honorary doctorate

Social welfare administrator and writer Geoffrey Canada will receive an honorary doctorate and speak at Fall Commencement at noon Sunday, Dec. 13.

 Working to break the chains of poverty for children in one of New York City’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods, Canada is president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone® (HCZ).

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College, Canada earned a master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and since then has devoted his life to saving children’s lives through education and community-building. He has worked as a teacher and counselor for the Robert White School, an alternative school in Boston; and as executive director for Health Care Inc. in Lawrence, Mass.

In 1981, he joined Harlem Children’s Zone, first as director of truancy prevention, and since 1990 as president and CEO. Founded in 1970, the HCZ is a nonprofit, community-based organization working to enhance the quality of life for children and families in New York City’s poorest neighborhoods. Its 15 centers serve more than 10,000 at-risk children through education, social service and recreational activities.

The HCZ covers a 100-block area of central Harlem, teaching effective parenting skills to parents, using a holistic approach to enriching lives and providing opportunities to impoverished children and families. Efforts include the operation of two Beacon

Schools that provide support 12 hours a day, 365 days a year to children and families, as well as the Harlem Peacemakers Program and the Community Pride Initiative.
In addition, Canada created the Promise Academy Charter Schools in 2004. Serving different age groups from kindergarten through grade 12, the schools operate 210 days a year for an hour longer each day than other public schools, and give children the time and attention they need to succeed through activities including free after-school tutoring and enrichment programs ranging from technology to the arts.

Canada has authored two books, Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America and Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America, as well as numerous articles about the trials experienced by children and families living in poverty in urban settings. Also a poet, he writes from personal experience, having grown up under the same conditions as those the HCZ assists today.

Canada is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Heinz Award for Service to the Human Condition, the Jefferson Award for Public Service and the Robin Hood Foundation Hero of the Year Award. He was named one of the NY Influentials in Education by New York Magazine in 2006, one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report in 2005, and in 2004 he was honored with the McGraw Prize in Education — the same prestigious award bestowed on President Lois B. DeFleur in 2007.

Appointed co-chair of New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s Special Commission on Poverty in 2006, Canada is also East Coast Regional Coordinator for the Black Community Crusade for Children, to make saving black children the number one priority in the black community.

He has held positions on the boards of Bowdoin College, the Black Child Development Institute, the Fund for the City of New York and the Edna McConnell Clark Advisory Board for Children’s Programs.

 

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Last Updated: 10/14/08