NPR Series On Harlem Children’s Zone Replication

The deadline is approaching — this coming Monday — for applications to become one of the Obama Administration’s “Promise Neighborhoods” to “replicate” the Harlem Children’s Zone.

National Public Radio has just finished a two-part series on the prospects for these efforts:

Up For Grabs: $10M For Groups Reaching Kids

Lessons From Harlem Take Root In Tribal Lands

The HCZ obviously does very good work. I do have some questions, though, about how they relate to parents and to the broader community. From what I have learned (and that just comes from newspaper articles, reading the book Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America , and seeing some video interviews with Geoffrey Canada), I wonder if the HCZ might relate to parents more as clients rather than partners. I also don’t really know what kind of relationships they have with other neighborhood institutions like religious congregations and community groups (I have those same two critiques about most schools). If they don’t have that kind of grassroots base, I wonder how any kind of real neighborhood transformation will be able to take place.

If I’m correct in those concerns, I hope some of the twenty applicants who end up being chosen and approach those issues a bit differently.

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