The Audacious Project
Impact 2020
Year in numbers
Harlem Children's Zone

Harlem Children's Zone

Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) has pioneered a place-based approach that tackles the interrelated challenges facing the Black community. At the onset of the pandemic, they launched a comprehensive emergency response and recovery program focused on: protecting the most vulnerable, bridging the digital divide, preventing learning loss, mitigating the mental health crisis and providing economic relief. Through a Black-led coalition, HCZ is equipping other organizations to execute a community-driven vision of their model in six additional US cities, reaching 100,000 people.

Photo caption: Harlem Children’s Zone helps kids get “to and through college” — an effort that requires even more supports than normal during COVID-19. / Harlem Children’s Zone
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Harlem Children's Zone



In Harlem, HCZ has distributed more than 4,000 two-week supplies of nonperishable foods; 28,000 pounds of fresh produce; 1,400 Chromebooks and iPads and 200 mobile WiFi units for distance learning; 35,000 masks; and nearly 2,200 thermometers. 

HCZ also developed a school reopening plan in Harlem, which included converting one of their facilities into a rapid-testing site for COVID-19, where more than 2,000 PCR tests have already been conducted. This testing allowed for a smooth transition from entirely remote instruction to a hybrid approach for HCZ’s early childhood and K-12 programs across the region, as well as for their college and career support services. 

Beyond New York, HCZ partnered with organizations to bring similar models to six other cities across the US: Chicago, Detroit, Newark, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Oakland, distributing more than 125,000 masks and 16,000 learning devices. A multimedia public health campaign across these cities designed to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has already garnered over 23 million impressions. These partnerships have created meaningful opportunities for collaboration, as they share lessons from their on-the-ground experiences.

“When COVID-19 hit, Harlem Children’s Zone did what it always does — we launched a place-based solution to meet the needs of our vulnerable community. As pioneers of on-the-ground, wrap around services, we were uniquely positioned to adapt our model to confront the various threats head-on.”

Kwame Owusu-Kesse, Harlem Children’s Zone