Geoffrey Canada has consistently demonstrated his passionate concern for children and his determination to make their lives safer, saner, and more successful. Having grown up in the South Bronx, he has dedicated his life to helping children who are raised in similar conditions to secure both educational and economic opportunities. Canada is President and CEO of Harlem Children's Zone (formerly the Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families) , a community-based organization in New York City that provides preventive, educational, community-building, and recreational services to the children and families in a 24 block area in Central Harlem. Prominent among his many efforts are the Harlem Children's Zone's Beacon School, Harlem Peacemakers Program, and Community Pride Initiative. The Beacon School program provides support 12 hours a day, 365 days a year to children and families in Central Harlem.
Canada is also the founder of the Chang Moo Kwan Martial Arts School, which teaches the principles of Tae Kwon Do to community youth along with anti-violence and conflict resolution techniques. He is the East Coast Regional Coordinator for the Black Community Crusade for Children, a nationwide effort to make saving Black children the number one priority in the black community. He was the recipient of the first Heinz Award in 1994 for his work as President/CEO of Harlem Children's Zone. In 2004, he won the prestigious Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, which recognizes individuals who have dedicated themselves to improving education and whose accomplishments are making a difference.
Canada is the author of two books: Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America, published in 1996, and Reaching Up for Manhood, published in 1998. He was the host of a PBS special,Jobs: A Way Out? which explored the importance of employment opportunities in keeping youth from following the path of violence. He has appeared on CBS This Morning, Good Morning America, The Today Showand Nightline, among others.
Mr. Canada holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Bowdoin College and a Master's Degree in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Before joining the Harlem Children's Zone, he served as Director of the Robert White School, a private day school for troubled inner city youth in Boston. He has also received Honorary degrees from Harvard University, Williams College, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the Bank Street College of Education and Lombard Theological Seminary.
NOTE: This bio appeared in the February 16, 2001 program for our What is the American Family? Forum.
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