Paul Tough

Writer & Speaker

Posts Tagged ‘Geoffrey Canada’

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Geoffrey Canada’s Ancestors

Geoffrey Canada was the subject (along with Barbara Walters!) of Henry Louis Gates’s most recent “Finding Your Roots” program. Some amazing moments, including the will that valued Geoff’s great-great-grandfather, Thomas, a slave, at $250. Plus students at Promise Academy learning how much of their DNA ancestry traces to Africa.

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Three Things

Three fairly random items from various sources, each, in its own way, heart-warming (for me, at least):

1. In 2010, James Shechter, a sophomore at the Haverford School, a private school near Philadelphia, came across the article I wrote in 2008 on schools in New Orleans in the New York Times Magazine. He was inspired by two of the educators I wrote about, Tiffany Hardrick and Keith Sanders, who were, at the time, starting a new charter school called Miller-McCoy Academy. According to a recent article in the Neighbors Main Line Blog, Shechter contacted Hardrick and Sanders, spent the summer in New Orleans tutoring Miller-McCoy students, and has since raised close to $10,000 for the school.

2. In December, the Education Writers Association’s Educated Reporter blog gave its “Water Cooler Award (for one of the most talked-about stories of the year)” to my article in the New York Times Magazine about character, “What If the Secret to Success Is Failure?” (The article will be included, in expanded and adapted form, in my book “How Children Succeed,” which will be published on September 4.)

3. In O: The Oprah Magazine, the writer and comedian Ali Wentworth selected “Whatever It Takes” as one of the “books that made a difference” in her life:

“This is a life-changing book,” Wentworth says of Tough’s look at the work of social activist and educator Geoffrey Canada, who created the Harlem Children’s Zone, a cradle-to-college, community-based organization. “My mantra is ‘The art is in the doing.’ A lot of people talk about polls and research, but I have a hard time with all the red tape. I just go, I get it, but can we rush a can of soup to the family right now?”

Monday, February 20th, 2012


Geoffrey Canada’s celebrity took a weird turn this weekend, when he was briefly impersonated by Jay Pharaoh during a “What Up With That” sketch on Saturday Night Live. No lines, but some smoking dance moves. Fast-forward to 5:10 or so.

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Roseland Children’s Initiative

In May, Geoffrey Canada visited the Chicago neighborhood of Roseland (where I’ve spent a lot of time during the past school year reporting for my next book, “The Success Equation”). Geoff spoke to students and community members at Fenger High School at the kickoff of the Roseland Children’s Initiative, a Promise Neighborhood-like project sponsored by SGA Youth & Family Services (whose annual benefit I spoke at in 2010).

There was coverage in the Chicago Defender, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago News Cooperative, and Catalyst Chicago, which reported that the ultimate goal of the children’s initiative is

to reach 65 percent of the roughly 14,000 young people in Roseland, enough to bring the neighborhood to a “tipping point” toward improvement.

Monday, May 9th, 2011

New space for Promise Academy

Construction is underway on a $100 million building in the center of the St. Nicholas housing project in central Harlem that will house the Promise Academy charter school as well as a health clinic, a community center, and other programs run by the Harlem Children’s Zone. In an article in the New York Post, Geoffrey Canada described his ambition for the new building:

“It would be wrong to consider it just a school. Our mission is much larger. We’re trying to give all the support our kids are going to need in one place. That’s what makes it unique.”

An article in the Epoch Times goes into more detail about the project’s funding, which includes $60 million from the city’s department of education, $20 million from Goldman Sachs, and $6 million from Google.

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Community Forum in Lame Deer

On Monday morning, I’ll be giving a speech and sitting on a panel at a community forum in Lame Deer, a small town in eastern Montana, on the Northern Cheyenne reservation. As a post on Indian Country Today explains:

The author will discuss [Geoffrey] Canada’s creation of a cradle-to-college program for children of Harlem, New York. After his talk, Montana residents will talk about what resources worked for them, and everyone will brainstorm how to create an infrastructure that will support youth of the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in their career goals.

The forum is being organized by the Boys and Girls Club of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, which last year became one of 21 community groups nationwide that received a Promise Neighborhood planning grant.

There’s more information in this story from the Billings Gazette, including details on how to RSVP.

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Two blog posts

Two blog posts today that connect my New Yorker article with “Whatever It Takes.” One is from John Thompson, a historian, who writes on Huffington Post:

I am hoping that Paul Tough will be the education writer who frees us to engage in frank discussions of the effects of intense concentrations of generational poverty on schools. In his “Whatever It Takes,” Tough told the story of Geoffrey Canada who “believed that he could find the ideal intervention for each age of a child’s life, and then connect those interventions into an unbroken chain of support.” … Tough has done it again in “The Poverty Clinic,” articulating a theory of everything that starts with the neurochemical imbalances created by childhood trauma.

And on his New Republic blog, Jonathan Chait writes,

“Whatever It Takes” explores the Harlem Children’s Zone, which is an ambitious attempt to remake social services by tying together all the social services — education, medicine, parental training, prenatal care. The thesis, in other words, is that all these social ailments are related to each other, and the correct approach of social policy is to address them in tandem. His New Yorker story essentially traces this thesis back to bio-chemical roots, but Tough is really capturing some cutting-edge concepts in social science. The story is also a gripping read, so don’t miss it.

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Prince 2 Donate $1M

On Monday, at a press conference at Madison Square Garden, Prince announced a donation of $1 million to the Harlem Children’s Zone. According to an article in Jones Magazine:

During the press conference, 30 students from the Harlem Children’s Zone got the chance to meet the musical icon. You could see how inspired and touched they were by Prince’s dedication to the youth, his unparalleled musical success and his generosity. Harlem Children’s Zone President and CEO Geoffrey Canada had this to say about the donation: “I want to thank Prince. I am touched and blown away by his generosity. This is unprecedented in my lifetime to see an artist come forward and invest in today’s children.”

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Geoffrey Canada’s travels

Geoffrey Canada has been on the road more than usual this month, giving public talks to a variety of school and community groups. He spoke at the University of Dayton in Ohio where, according to a recent article in the Dayton Daily News, a local initiative called Taking Off to Success is modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone’s Baby College. He also spoke at a Martin Luther King Day celebration at Wesleyan University and to a group in Columbia, South Carolina, that is trying to establish what they’re calling a Promise Zone, modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone, in the city’s Eau Claire neighborhood. (According to an article in the State, Geoffrey Canada’s older brother, Dan, a Columbia resident, is on the board of the Eau Claire zone.)

Next month, Canada will speak in Haverford, Pennsylvania. In March, it’s Saginaw, Michigan. In April, York, Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Canada in England

In the Independent of London, a profile of Geoffrey Canada, tied to the release of “Waiting for ‘Superman'” in the United Kingdom. The article (which refers to Canada as a “Harlem globetrotter”) includes this tidbit:

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has used Mr Canada’s achievements in Harlem, one of New York’s bleakest neighbourhoods, as a blueprint for the “free” schools initiative being launched in England next year. Mr Gove says of Mr Canada’s achievements: “Geoffrey Canada is a real life superhero. He has devoted his life to state education and to raising standards for the very poorest. His Harlem Children’s Zone is a radical experiment in changing the way children are brought up.”