The Harlem Children's Zone is a non-profit organization for poverty-stricken children and families living in Harlem, providing free support in the form of parenting workshops, a pre-school program, three charter schools, and child-oriented health programs for thousands of children and families. The HCZ is "aimed at doing nothing less than breaking the cycle of generational poverty for the thousands of children and
families it serves."
The Harlem Children's Zone Project has expanded the HCZ's comprehensive system of programs to nearly 100 blocks of Central Harlem and aims to keep children on track through college and into the job market.“We’re not interested in saving a hundred kids,” Canada says. “Even three hundred kids. Even a thousand kids to me is not going to do it. We want to be able to talk about how you save kids by the tens of thousands, because that’s how we’re losing them.”
The HCZ and its promotion as a model of education to aspire to, especially in the recent documentary Waiting for "Superman", have been criticized as an example of the privatization of education in the U.S. University of San Francisco Adjunct Professor in Education, Rick Ayers writes that Waiting for "Superman" "never mentions the tens of millions of dollars of private money that has poured into the Harlem Children's Zone, the model and superman we are relentlessly instructed to aspire to." One year after this film was made, the Grassroots Education Movement made a film titled The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman, which accused the original film of exaggerating the success of the HCZ.
The Obama administration announced a Promise Neighborhoods program, which hopes to replicate the success of the HCZ in poverty-stricken areas of other U.S. cities. In the summer of 2010, the U.S. Department of Education's Promise Neighborhoods program accepted applications from over 300 communities for $10 million in federal grants for developing HCZ implementation plans.