The Harlem Children’s Zone is a grantee of the Open Society Foundations.
The entire senior class of Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) Promise Academy graduated and will be attending college this fall. This would be no small feat at the most exclusive of prep schools and is truly an achievement for a charter school with students picked by lottery. The HCZ class of 2012, most of whom started school at HCZ in the sixth grade, is the first class the organization has nurtured all the way through high school.
The charter school started after HCZ founder Geoffrey Canada decided to expand the organization’s many services, aimed at ending the cycle of poverty for children and families in Harlem, to include an innovative and effective education system. Promise Academy students attend school 11 months a year, have longer school days, high quality staff, and support until they graduate from college. Other HCZ programs focus on parenting, health, and community building. Canada’s lauded cradle-to-college approach is now being replicated across the country.
This multimedia piece features the inaugural Promise Academy graduation ceremony held at Columbia University with a keynote speech by filmmaker Spike Lee.
While the Promise Academy graduates are leaving 125th street, other students are just beginning kindergarten at HCZ. Harlem Gems is an all-day program that gets children ready to enter kindergarten. See a slideshow of the Gems’ graduation ceremony.