HCZ Principles of Community Development – #2

Continuing a series of posts looking at the 5 principles that govern the Harlem Children’s Zone model…

Principle 2: The HCZ Pipeline

The HCZ Pipeline, or continuum of services, provides children and families with a seamless series of free, coordinated, best-practice programs. We focus on the needs of children at every developmental age, including specific programs addressing pre-natal care, infants, toddlers, elementary school, middle school, adolescence, and college.

Academic excellence is a principal goal of the HCZ Pipeline, but high-quality schools are only one of the means we use to achieve it. Others include nurturing stable families, supporting youth development, improving health through fitness and nutrition, and cultivating engaged and involved adults and community stakeholders.

Children can enter the HCZ Pipeline at any age and they will be supported with high-quality programs.  Through our aggressive outreach efforts and multiple entrance points, we want families to easily access the HCZ Pipeline whenever they are able to do so. Once they have entered, we do not want them to leave. We promise parents that if their children regularly attend our programs, we will prepare them for college. And we have made good on that promise, even when children first enter the HCZ Pipeline in their teens. Today, HCZ has over 370 students in college who participated only in our after-school programs, and not in our charter schools or early childhood programs. However, we have found that the earlier a child enters and remains in the HCZ Pipeline, the greater the cumulative impact.

Overall, we seek to (1) maximize educational achievements for poor children; (2) ensure that each of the programs in the pipeline is strong and incorporates best practices; (3) foster strong links across programs to smooth transitions and guarantee that programs are pedagogically continuous; (4) stay community-based and responsive to local community needs; and (5) provide relevant data to program staff so that they can improve services and to policy-makers and decision-makers so that they can get the best results on their investments.

Each of the HCZ programs has been developed using hard evidence of what works for poor children and their parents. All HCZ programs, when looked at individually, are effective. But the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. The cumulative effect of multiple programs working together helps children reach their full potential. HCZ Pipeline programs consistently produce outcomes that meet or exceed national, state, and city averages.

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