The Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) is a great way to model of how communities can get involved and help the youth in high risk areas develop into successful adults. Currently, HCZ is “serving nearly 11,000 children in a 97-block area of Central Harlem in New York” (Karpman). HCZ was founded in 1970 as an “innovative community-based organization that has worked with public, private and nonprofit stakeholders to provide the neighborhood’s disadvantaged children with a comprehensive network of services and programs aimed at breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty.”
President Barack Obama's looks at the HCZ as a reason for hope and inspiration and has ignited the concept of establishing “Promise Neighborhoods” around the nation. “Promise Neighborhoods” are systems of institutions which will provide basic services for at risk communities. These services include "working with schools on education, community organizations to enhance health care, community development organizations and developers to improve housing stock, and creating community gardens"(Crain Service News). President Obama has requested $10 million in fiscal 2010 for the program (Behavioral Health Central). However, government dependence is not needed to make supportive environments for at risk neighborhoods.
A Harvard report found that “’either the ... public charter schools are the main driver of the results or the interaction of the schools and the community investments is the impetus for such success”’ (Behavioral Health Central). Community is thought to have a huge impact the success of HCZ, therefore, it is possible for communities can take the brunt of the costs to change their neighborhoods into “Promise Neighborhoods” without federal help. Communities should not be waiting to get help to start transforming their neighborhoods; they should start by getting local facilities to help within the community. The Kalamazoo Communities in Schools (KCIS) took on this attitude.
Don Cooney, professor of Social Work and city commissioner of Kalamazoo, has taken the HCZ model into their own hands and started his vision in the Kalamazoo Communities in Schools (KCIS). "’Cooney’s future vision for KCIS includes an expansion of [the] community-wide effort to better meet the needs of Kalamazoo’s poor. He emphasized increasing funding and strengthening partnerships with the city’s existing service-providing agencies, churches, and universities.’” Kalamazoo’s problem is that “there are many organizations providing support, but it’s not coordinated.” He does not make mention of getting a lot of governmental funding to help him in his efforts, however, they have the organizations helping out regardless. All they need is more organization between each member. (Micah Center)
According to Brian Paff, from the Micah Center website, Kalamazoo has about 100 kids on the street after school and during this time churches within the area have their gym doors locked (Micah Center) . This suggests that facilities and services are readily available for kids to use but they are not being utilized within the communities. Every community has assets that the public could benefit from, it just takes cooperation from local businesses, schools, churches, or any local facility to make “Promise Neighborhoods” possible, the government is not the only option. More communties should really take the time to better prepare their youth for the future for they are the future. A little sarcrfice, devotion and organization is all that it takes to better the future of America.
For more information on the HCZ visit: http://www.nlc.org/articles/articleItems/NCW112309/HarlemZone.aspx