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Canada: Let's end the cradle to prison pipeline

Zack Huffman | 10/28/2009, 6:43 a.m.
Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone and passionate advocate for education reform, speaks before Phillips...
Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone and passionate advocate for education reform, speaks before Phillips Brooks House Association at Harvard Unversity’s Memorial Church on October 23, 2009. Tony Irving

“I think he was really inspiring,” said Michelle Rusch, a 22-year-old graduate student who was in attendance. “The way in which he delivers his message makes people believe they can achieve something.”

Recognition of Canada’s success has reached as far as the White House, where last May, President Barack Obama announced his plan for the creation of 20 “Promise Neighborhoods” throughout the country that will be modeled after the HCZ.

A collection of activists from Boston, including representatives from non-profit organizations, is in the planning stages of creating its own version of the HCZ outside of Obama’s plan.

“We have these persistent poverty problems that have gone on for generations and we’re not getting the results we need to get with the existing service delivery systems and so we’ve got to do something very differently,” said Hubie Jones, a charter trustee of the City Year board of directors who is also helping lead the effort to create the HCZ-inspired program in Boston. “We’ve got to think differently, we’ve got to come up with new strategies, new theories of change, and that’s the work that we’re doing.”

According to Jones, the program will focus on Roxbury, North Dorchester and Mattapan with Blue Hill Avenue acting as the backbone of the intended area of coverage.

“We just have a whole group of people that are very invested in the community who want something different,” said Jones.

Although plans for the program are far from being ready for a public presentation, Jones is confident that a proposal will be ready by the end of December.