Community revitalization efforts can be found throughout Columbus, from Weinland Park to Linden, Eastside and the Greater Hilltop Area Shalom Zone. Key to each community’s future is education — today’s children will be tomorrow’s leaders in sustaining revitalization efforts and making a more vibrant Columbus.
Local community and education leaders are hoping to learn from an expert in creating a sustainable model for improving education for low-income children — Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City.
Canada launched the Harlem Children’s Zone project in 1997 in a 24-block area of Harlem. The project now encompasses nearly 100 blocks and serves more than 6,000 adults and 8,000 students through the Promise Academy charter school, pre-school and after-school programs. Ninety percent of the high school seniors involved in the after-school programs were accepted into college for the 2010-11 school year.
United Way of Central Ohio and Ohio State are coordinating Canada’s trip to Columbus, led by United Way’s Champion of Children founder and Ohio State Board of Trustee member Linda Kass. Valerie Lee, vice president for Outreach and Engagement, is coordinating the campus events.
Canada will be the featured speaker at the 20th Anniversary Champion of Children event Feb. 13. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Southern Theatre, 21 E. Main St. and is open to the public. Former WOSU Open Line host Fred Anderle will conduct a live interview with Canada during the event, focusing on issues that are most pertinent to central Ohio.
A reception follows from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Westin Columbus.
Several other events with Canada will be hosted at Ohio State.
“We hope to get some tips on using his holistic neighborhood approach, the way he has emphasized sustained intervention,” Lee said. “I think we can learn something from him in terms of family and community engagement and in terms of decreasing multi-generational poverty.”
On Feb. 13 at Ohio State, a luncheon with 100 university and community collaborators will be moderated by Sharon Davies, executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.
An afternoon session with 40 OSU students interested in urban planning, education, social work, sociology and public policy will be moderated by James Moore, associate provost in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and director of the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male.
Canada will visit Weinland Park Feb. 14 during a breakfast at the Schoenbaum Family Center for about 40 OSU stakeholders involved in the Weinland Park Collaborative. Cheryl Achterberg, dean of the College of Education and Human Ecology, will moderate the morning’s discussion.
Tens of millions of dollars in government and private funding have been spent in the last five years in Weinland Park to renovate houses, improve infrastructure, build a new elementary school and develop abandoned properties for more housing. OSU has a number of ongoing projects in the neighborhood southeast of the campus involving teaching, research and service, including an early childhood development program at the center.
The Weinland Park Collaborative, of which Lee and Achterberg are members, was one of three sites nationwide to receive an Annie E. Casey Foundation grant worth up to $300,000 over two years to design, pilot and plan for the broader implementation of programs and strategies geared towards families with young children.
Once these steps are successfully completed, the foundation plans to provide additional support, as well as $750,000 to $1 million annually, to implement and evaluate these services over the next several years. The foundation advocates a multi-generational approach by providing programs for children that focus on healthy growth and education, as well as services for adults that focus on parenting, job skills and financial security.
It’s the same cradle-to-college diploma approach that Canada advocates, providing programs from preschool to college success in the Harlem Children’s Zone.
“Canada says that if you want to transform a neighborhood, you start really early, even before birth and stay with people through post-secondary, through college,” Lee said. “You try to provide a range of services — educational and medical — as well as a level of civic engagement.
“It’s going to be good to hear his take on what it takes for children to succeed. He has had demonstrated success in that area, and his philosophy of helping all the residents of a community, that’s the same philosophy that we are using in the Weinland Park area.”
The 20th Anniversary Champion of Children
Featuring a live interview with Geoffrey Canada
4:45-5:20 p.m. – Registration
5:30-6:30 p.m. – Live interview with Geoffrey Canada
and Champion of Children Awards presentation
The Southern Theatre
21 E. Main St., Columbus
6:30-8:00 p.m. – Open reception at The Westin Columbus
Tickets – $75 per person/ $125 per couple
Register online at liveunitedcentralohio.org/buy-tickets
UW and OSU events will be tweeted on Twitter.com through the hashtag #uwcoc.
Vice President, Outreach and Engagement
Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion
The university is engaged in Weinland Park across a significant number of academic programs involving teaching, research and service. We have: A physical presence with the Schoenbaum Center, which focuses on early childhood development; a computer teaching laboratory located at Godman Guild; and a significant involvement in urban housing revitalization. Notably, OSU has a strong presence in the Weinland Park Collaborative, a consortium of private and public partners dedicated to the sustainability of the community. That group has recently worked together to be one of three sites nationwide that the Annie E. Casey Foundation has selected for a major grant award. The Office of Outreach and Engagement is piloting an effort to coordinate the breadth and scope of OSU Weinland Park activities to better leverage university resources and address community needs.