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|Born||January 13, 1952
Bronx, New York
|Alma mater||Bowdoin College
|Occupation||CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone
Geoffrey Canada (born January 13, 1952) is an American social activist and educator. Since 1990, Canada has been president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone in Harlem, New York, an organization which states its goal is to increase high school and college graduation rates among students in Harlem. He is a member of the Board of Directors of The After-School Corporation, a nonprofit organization that describes its aim as expanding educational opportunities for all students. Canada also serves as the Chairman of Children's Defense Fund's Board of Directors.
Early life and education
Canada was born in the South Bronx, the third of four sons of Mary Elizabeth Canada (née Williams), a substance abuse counselor, and McAlister Canada. His parents' marriage ended in 1956, after which he was raised by his mother; his father played little part in the children's life and did not contribute financial support. Canada was raised among the "abandoned houses, crime, violence and an all-encompassing sense of chaos and disorder," and understood his life's calling at an early age. His mother sent him to live with her parents in Wyandanch, New York, when Canada was in his mid-teens. He attended Wyandanch Memorial High School, and won a scholarship from the Fraternal Order of Masons during his senior year of high school. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and sociology from Bowdoin College, where he graduated in 1974, and a Master's degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Canada has honorary degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Dartmouth College and Princeton University among others.
Role with the Harlem Children's Zone
Starting as president in 1990, Canada began working with the Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families which evolved into the Harlem Children's Zone. Unsatisfied with the scope of Rheedlen, Canada transformed the organization's makeup in the late 1990s into a center that would actively follow the academic careers of youths in a 24-block area of Harlem. Due to the success of the new model, the area has grown to 97 blocks.
The Harlem Children's Zone was profiled in 2004 in a story by Paul Tough in the New York Times Magazine, which described it as "one of the biggest social experiments of our time." In 2008, Tough published a book entitled Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America. Additionally, U.S. News and World Report named Canada one of America's Best Leaders in its October 2005 issue.
Along with having been featured in a number of print publications, Canada has made a number of high-profile television appearances, including a profile interview on 60 Minutes, two televised interviews with Charlie Rose, a guest appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, a guest appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and three appearances on the Colbert Report. In 2010, he appeared in an American Express commercial that premiered during the Academy Awards and took an extended look at his work and success at the Harlem Children's Zone.
Canada is prominently featured in Waiting for Superman (2010), Academy Award-winner Davis Guggenheim's documentary on the state of American public education. The film received the Audience Award for best documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
Canada's first book, Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America, was first released in 1995. In the book, Canada recounts his exposure to violence during his childhood and offers a series of recommendations on how to alleviate violence in inner cities.
Publishers Weekly praised Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun, commenting that "A more powerful depiction of the tragic life of urban children and a more compelling plea to end 'America's war against itself' cannot be imagined."
In 1998, he published his second book, Reaching Up For Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America.
Awards and honors
- The 1st Annual Heinz Award in the Human Condition;
- Doctor of Humane Letters, Bowdoin College (2007);
- National Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged (2007)
- Doctor of Humane letters, Tulane University (2010);
- Doctor of Laws, Columbia University (2010);
- "Local Hero" honor at 2010 BET Awards;
- Doctor of Humane Letters, Tufts University (2011);
- Doctor of Humane Letters, University of Pennsylvania (2012).
- Gergen, David (January 20, 1998). "Moving Toward Manhood". PBS. Retrieved 2007-04-24.
- Stated on Finding Your Roots, PBS, April 1, 2012
- Helping Celebrities Find Their Roots : NPR
- Canada, Geoffrey 1954– – FREE Canada, Geoffrey 1954– information | Encyclopedia.com: Find Canada, Geoffrey 1954– research
- "Geoffrey Canada, social activist". Current Biography (New York: H. W. Wilson Company). February 2005. ISSN 0011-3344. Retrieved 2011-01-17.
- "Geoffrey Canada, Six Others to Receive Honorary Degrees at Penn's 256th Commencement May 14".
- "Princeton awards six honorary degrees".
- Tough, Paul (June 20, 2004). "The Harlem Project". New York Times Magazine. Retrieved 2007-04-24.
- Paul Tough (2008-08-12). Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0-618-56989-8.
- Daniel Schorn, reported by Ed Bradley (2006-05-14). "The Harlem Children's Zone: How One Man's Vision To Revitalize Harlem Starts With Children". CBS 60 Minutes television program. Retrieved 2009-01-26.
- "Charlie Rose Guests - Geoffrey Canada". Charlie Rose Inc. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
- Colbert Nation: Geoffrey Canada (T.V.). 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2009-06-07.
- Colbert Nation: Geoffrey Canada - Reversing Racism (T.V.). 2009-07-20. Retrieved 2009-08-12.
- "Bowdoin Amid the Oscars: Hey Wasn't That Geoff Canda '74". Bowdoin College Campus News. March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-21.
- "Barack Obama and Joe Biden's Plan to Combat Poverty". Obama-Biden website. Fall 2008. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
- ""Winter’s Bone," "Restrepo" Lead Sundance Award Winners". IndieWire. 2010-01-30. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
- Javier Hernandez (2010-12-09). "Educator Is Said to Have Rejected Chancellor Job". New York Times.
- Friedman, Thomas L (2013-10-15). "Sorry, Kids. We Ate It All". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
- "Fist Stick Knife Gun: From Memoir to Graphic Book". Beacon Broadside. Sept. 15, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
- Geoffrey Canada (1998-12-10). Reaching Up For Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America. Beacon Press. ISBN 0-8070-2317-5.
- "The Heinz Awards, Geoffrey Canada profile". Heinzawards.net. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
- "Honoris Causa citation, Bowdoin College" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-10-20.
- National Winners | public service awards | Jefferson Awards.org
- "Columbia Announces 2010 Honorary Degree Recipients". News.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
- Richards, Chris (2010-06-28). "Washington Post article on BET Awards". Blog.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
- "Honoris Causa citation, University of Pennsylvania". Retrieved 2012-05-14.
- The After-School Corporation
- Harlem Children's Zone Official Website
- Profile of Canada from the Harlem Children's Zone
- Beacon Press web site for Geoffrey Canada.
- Profile of Canada from Current (February 2005)
- Profile of Canada in The New York Times (June 2004)
- Segment on the Harlem Children's Zone in The New York Times (May 2009)
- Video of Geoffrey Canada at the Gel 2006 conference
- Video on The Harlem Children's Zone CBS 60 Minutes (May 2006)
- Radio segment on Canada on This American Life (September 2008)
-  (December 2010)