In his budget outline, President Obama has included plans to create “Promise Neighborhoods” in up to 20 cities across the nation. These innovative programs will be modeled after the highly successful “Harlem Children’s Zone” in New York. The Harlem Children’s Zone program takes a holistic approach to improving children’s lives and combating poverty through education, social services, and community building efforts. The program offers prenatal care, parenting classes for pregnant mothers, high-quality education from pre-k through grade 12, and other social services (health screenings, afterschool programs, etc.). President Obama’s plans have been estimated to cost “a few billion dollars” and communities wishing to become one of the “Promise Neighborhoods” will compete for start-up grants beginning in 2010. Read more about this topic here or here.
The president, CEO, and founder of Harlem Children’s Zone, Geoffrey Canada, spent years combatting poverty in urban areas and saw little success even with the introduction of expensive social programs. Then when his wife became pregnant, something clicked, and he began offering services early to children (starting even before they were born). He now educates others about these critical early years and offers many services that improve the early experiences of children living in poverty. See an interview with him here.