Is The Promise Real?

THE MAN OF THE HOURWe will find the money to do this because we can’t afford not to.Geoffrey Canada strides to the lectern in the New York Sheraton’s Grand Metropolitan Ballroom amid the clatter and clink of laden plates and silver coffee urns, as 1,400 sets of eager eyes and ears–fans and acolytes, students and advocates, civic leaders, law enforcement officers, school chiefs, nonprofit staffers and a handful of funders representing 106 communities across the United States–turn their attention away from their sliced-chicken-and-asparagus entrees to the tall, lean man at the front of the room. The diners are gathered at a conference called “Changing the Odds.” They are there because they seek to glean the secrets and wisdom of the Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), Canada’s all-encompassing neighborhood anti-poverty program.And they are not alone in listening closely to what Canada has to say. His grand experiment, which began in 1994 as an intensely local web of cradle-to-college social services and has expanded to include two charter schools and 97 square blocks of central Harlem, is about the hottest commodity on today’s national urban-policy scene.Just a few weeks after the conference, Canada was featured in a glowing 60 Minutes portrait—the second time the premier TV newsmagazine has covered the Zone. Oprah Winfrey calls Canada “an angel from God.”

The Match Game

Individual Development Accounts were the hot antipoverty idea of the 1990s, and tens of thousands of striving Americans now watch their money get matched and grow. Does it matter that most of them weren’t poor to begin with?