Commit! team member Ashley Bryan recently had the opportunity to see collective impact in action on a visit to the Harlem Children’s Zone with a team from Mayor Rawlings’ office, City Councilwoman Carolyn Davis and Dallas ISD Trustee Bernadette Nutall. Harlem Children’s Zone represents one of the earliest examples of collective impact, an approach to solving community-level challenges in a highly collaborative and coordinated way. Led by Geoffrey Canada (of Waiting for “Superman” fame), HCZ exists to transform the Harlem community by “doing whatever is takes to educate children and strengthen the community” through a tightly interwoven system of supports that carries a child from cradle to career. The HCZ model for community revitalization through collective impact catapulted into the national spotlight in recent years and even prompted the Promise Neighborhood federal grant program as a means to replicate the framework across the country.
The team traveled to Harlem to learn from the ongoing work at HCZ that has led to a community-wide transformation, hoping to apply a similar framework in southern Dallas under Mayor Rawlings’ Grow South initiative. The team spent the first day of the trip learning about the HCZ model – including the programs, people and processes that have made the project successful – and the second day learning about the City of New York’s economic development initiatives that have also played a significant role in community renewal.
At the heart of the HCZ model is committed collaboration – folks working together to surround kids and families with the support and resources necessary to realize their highest potential. We are excited about the possibility for such a model in southern Dallas and are eager to support steps going forward that will ultimately benefit our kids.