Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It Takes More Than Schools to Close Achievement Gap

Harlem's Children Zone is a wonderful and effective program that I am extremely proud of being apart of .

Harlem Children’s Zone,®Inc. has experienced incredible growth - from the number of children we serve to the breadth of our services. But one thing has stayed the same: the agency’s “whatever it takes” attitude when it comes to helping children to succeed. The organization began 1970 as Rheedlen, working with young children and their families as the city’s first truancy-prevention program.

Attending a school in the South Bronx, how could I ever find out about Harlem's Children Zone?
I was given a little bit of luck and fell into the city contract.
I was given the opportunity to participate in a Harlem's Children Zone's High School After-School program called Learn to Earn. What Harlem Children Zone does is become the second home for children. They provide opportunities to children- teaching them and providing what they may lack. Some things that I was given were Free S.A.T Prep classes, Field trips, Stipends, College trips, homework help, and free prom dresses.

Based on statistics, Harlem's Children Zone has lived up to it's expectations. this past spring, 100 percent of the third-graders at HCZ Promise Academy II scored at or above grade level in the statewide math tests. ( A few blocks away, 97 percent of the Promise Academy I third-graders were at or above grade level.
Many of these children have been in HCZ programs from the time their parents were in The Baby College, which highlights the effectiveness of HCZ comprehensive model of supporting children.

President Barack Obama Remarks about Harlem's Children Zone on July 18,2007

Hope is found in what works. In those South Side neighborhoods, hope was found in the after school programs we created, and the job training programs we put together, and the organizing skills we taught residents so that they could stand up to a government that wasn't standing up for them. Hope is found here at THEARC, where you've provided thousands of children with shelter from the streets and a home away from home. And if you travel a few hours north of here, you will find hope amid ninety-seven neighborhood blocks in the heart of Harlem. This is the home of the Harlem Children's Zone - an all-encompassing, all-hands-on-deck anti-poverty effort that is literally saving a generation of children in a neighborhood where they were never supposed to have a chance. The philosophy behind the project is simple - if poverty is a disease that infects an entire community in the form of unemployment and violence; failing schools and broken homes, then we can't just treat those symptoms in isolation. We have to heal that entire community. And we have to focus on what actually works. If you're a child who's born in the Harlem Children's Zone, you start life differently than other inner-city children. Your parents probably went to what they call " Baby College", a place where they received counseling on how to care for newborns and what to expect in those first months. You start school right away, because there's early childhood education. When your parents are at work, you have a safe place to play and learn, because there's child care, and after school programs, even in the summer. There are innovative charter schools to attend. There's free medical services that offer care when you're sick and preventive services to stay healthy. There's affordable, good food available so you're not malnourished. There are job counselors and financial counselors. There's technology training and crime prevention. You don't just sign up for this program; you're actively recruited for it, because the idea is that if everyone is involved, and no one slips through the cracks, then you really can change an entire community. Geoffrey Canada, the program's inspirational, innovative founder, put it best - instead of helping some kids beat the odds, the Harlem Children's Zone is actually changing the odds altogether.

How's that for a program?

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