Geoffrey Canada in Columbia

Written by Amanda Cote

On January 14, 2011

On Friday, January 7th, a group from the Charleston Promise Neighborhood had the honor of hearing Geoffrey Canada speak in Columbia, South Carolina. Geoffrey Canada is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Harlem Children’s Zone, the model upon which the Charleston Promise Neighborhood is based. Geoffrey Canada was the keynote speaker for a charitable fundraiser held at the Brookland Baptist Conference Center on behalf of the Eau Claire Promise Zone. The Eau Claire Promise Zone Board is chaired by Dan Canada, Geoffrey’s older brother.

The Charleston Promise Neighborhood contingent included Dwayne Green, CEO for the Charleston Promise Neighborhood; General Walter Johnson (retired) a Charleston Promise Neighborhood Board Member; Camille Hendrix, principal of Chicora Elementary (one of the four Charleston Promise Neighborhood target schools); Mary Reynolds (principal of Mary Ford Elementary, another Charleston Promise Neighborhood school); Lynn Owings (principal of James Simons Elementary, yet another Charleston Promise school); Jennifer Singleton (parent advocate at James Simons); Tiffany Taylor (School Improvement Council Chair and teacher at James Simons) and Audrey Lane (Deputy for Organizational Advancement for the Charleston County School District).

Geoffrey Canada’s speech highlighted the problem with today’s public education system and suggestions on how to improve the system, using the Harlem Children’s Zone as a model. Mr. Canada also told humorous, inspiring and sometimes poignant stories of his rise to prominence as he sought to build his program into one that would reach all children living in Harlem. With a $76 million a year budget and over 17,000 children served, many in attendance would agree that he is fulfilling his goal.

Canada’s words provided strong motivation to all who were in attendance, and the group from the Charleston Promise Neighborhood is very privileged to have been able to attend.

Dwayne Green, CEO