By: Krystle Crossman
Geoffrey Canada is an amazing man. He has spent over 20 years of his life with Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc where he dedicates his life to making the lives of children in the city better. He is a compassionate man who is nationally known for his efforts and kindness. He became the President and CEO in 1990 just 7 years after first joining the organization. U.S. News named him one of “America’s Best Leaders” in 2005 and the group was recognized for their work and dedication by the New York Times.
The agency started a new project in 1997 called the Harlem Children’s Zone Project which today spans over 100 blocks in Harlem and is aiming to serve over 10,000 children. It helps children in the inner city from birth all the way to college and ensures that they have the tools and the skills that they need to become as successful as they want to be in life. The New York Times described it as a giant safety net of services that was dropped on the city.
Mr. Canada grew up in a bad part of the Bronx. It was a very poor and very violent neighborhood. Despite his surroundings he was able to make a success of himself with hard work and determination. He received a Bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin and then a Masters from Harvard. After that he decided that he wanted to help kids like him who were working through tough childhoods but still wanted to be successful. The model that HCZ runs on is now a model for different programs all over the nation. Their work has been featured on shows such as the Oprah Winfrey Show and 60 Minutes.
Mr. Canada has won many awards for his work and was even one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People. He has written two books that describe the violence in the urban areas and how they affect the lives of the children that are living there. On top of all of this Mr. Canada has a black belt in martial arts and teaches it to children as well to help them with discipline and focus. He is a truly inspiring person for the Black community.