As a young outreach worker in Central Harlem in the late 80's, I learned the model of grassroots neighborhood empowerment and advocacy on behalf of low income families and children.
I recall, Louis, among many African American and Latino/a children given more than hope, rather, an after school program of wrap-around educational, social service, and enrichment initiatives--sometimes 24/7. I witnessed the public school system, take the air out of the spirits and souls of children; similar to Jonathan Kozol's book title: Death At An Early Age.
I had the opportunity to work at Rheedlen Foundation, (as it was back then), and knew Geoff, Joe, and Richard Murphy.
In so many respects, I owe them and the families much gratitude for the opportunity to work alongside them, and more importantly, to have witnessed what Harlem Children Zone has become and will continue to do, on behalf of children and families in NYC.
If you can, purchase the book by Paul Tough about Geoffrey Canada's work, or read a few of Canada's books.
But, by all means, read one.
Whatever It Takes
Written by New York Times editor Paul Tough, "Whatever It Takes," is a compelling, in-depth look at the ground-breaking work of the Harlem Children's Zone and its leader, Geoffrey Canada.
Tough spent five years researching the work of HCZ, interviewing staff, students and parents. In addition, Tough surveys the theoretical underpinnings of HCZ's work, talking to national experts in education and poverty. "Whatever It Takes" was named one of the "Best Books of 2008" by the editors of The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.
[pdf] Read excerpts here