Governor Chris Christie Launches Expanded Promise Communities Initiative to Maximize Resources and Results for Children
In Partnership with Harlem Children’s Zone, Promise Communities Reorganize Services Around Goals of Educating Children, Transforming Communities
Trenton, NJ – Continuing his commitment to pursuing innovative approaches to ensure every New Jersey child is receiving a quality education, Governor Chris Christie today joined with Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) Executive Director Geoffrey Canada to announce an expanded Promise Communities initiative and partnership between HCZ and the Christie Administration. This broader initiative builds on and expands to other New Jersey communities the pilot program being developed between New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC), a nonprofit community organization in the City of Paterson, and HCZ to empower community-based organizations, to help schools advance and operate more efficiently, and to break down the “silos of government,” ensuring a more efficient and coordinated use of resources toward a common goal of positive outcomes for children. Governor Christie and Mr. Canada made their announcement at NJCDC’s Paterson facility today.
“The Harlem Children’s Zone has shown consistently the potential that can be unleashed in our children and communities when we move beyond the confines of government. In doing so, Geoffrey Canada has led HCZ to become a national model of all that can be accomplished when we put the needs of students before the old ways of doing things,” said Governor Christie. “In partnership with HCZ and the Paterson community, we are moving aggressively to recreate the success of HCZ right here in New Jersey by restructuring and organizing programs that reach across the community under a common goal – improving the lives of children and revitalizing the community.”
Through this expanded partnership, the State, through the Office of the Attorney General and Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, will provide assistance to community-based nonprofit organizations in additional cities as part of a Promise Communities initiative. Currently, Harlem Children’s Zone partners with nonprofit community organizations in Newark and Camden to provide technical assistance and guidance in coordinating existing resources among programs inside, outside and across government. The Department of Education is actively working with HCZ to identify opportunities to expand this program to other communities in New Jersey.
“Fundamentally changing the results we are getting in our country’s most distressed communities means taking a completely different approach to how we are educating and providing services to children and their families,” said Geoffrey Canada. “In New Jersey, Governor Christie has shown a serious commitment to transforming urban education in innovative ways that focus on results, not conventions or past practice. I’m pleased to expand our partnership with the Governor and his Administration, work together to identify other communities in New Jersey where transformation can take hold, and help find ways state government can use its resources to get better results for children across the state.”
Building upon core principles of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Promise Communities are designed to create a comprehensive continuum of solutions including educational programs and family and community support systems, with great schools at their center. Utilizing the participation of community partners and stakeholders, including state and local governments, local businesses, higher education institutions, among others, Promise Communities are designed to significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children and youth, from birth through college and onto a career. The Promise Community model emphasizes the need for learning opportunities throughout each day, year, and over the course of a child’s life span, as part of a broader neighborhood revitalization strategy.
In addition, Governor Christie announced that the Administration, via the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, will further its partnership with the Harlem Children’s Zone at the state government level. Geoffrey Canada and HCZ leadership will convene an Advisory Group, led by Acting Secretary for Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks, to interface directly with the Administration and provide critical analysis, guidance and recommendations to further the goals of improving inter-agency coordination, “breaking down silos” at the state government level, and increasing efficiency and accountability in policies and programs benefiting at-risk children.
Acting Secretary for Higher Education Hendricks will assume leadership for these expanded initiatives with the HCZ initiative on behalf of Governor Christie and will work closely with the Commissioners of other key agencies, including the Departments of Education, Children & Families, Labor & Workforce Development, Community Affairs and the Office of Attorney General.
Currently, New Jersey is the only state that has forged a formal partnership with Harlem Children’s Zone. An initiative is already underway in Paterson using the Harlem Children Zone’s successful model to form extensive partnerships with community organizations to rebuild communities and its schools.
Harlem Children’s Zone’s core mission is positive education outcomes for every child through effective schools and community programs, with the final result of graduation from college. The U.S. Department of Education’s highly-touted Promise Neighborhoods initiative is premised upon the HCZ model and designed to ensure that school reform and neighborhood revitalization are interconnected. HCZ utilizes an integrated approach to community renewal that focuses on comprehensive support for children from birth all the way through college.