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  • Writer's pictureThe Dayton Weekly News

Harlem Children’s Zone's Geoffrey Canada to Deliver Keynote Address at Omega CDC Hope Rising! Gala

The distinguished educator, activist, and author will speak on bridging the divide between schools and the community to break the cycle of poverty.

Harlem Children’s Zone Founder and President Geoffrey Canada

DAYTON, OHIO, OCTOBER 17, 2022 — Omega Community Development Corporation (CDC) has announced that Geoffrey Canada, Founder and President of Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) and co-founder of William Julius Wilson Institute at HCZ in New York City, will deliver the keynote address at their Hope Rising! Gala. Celebrating Omega CDC’s 25 years of service to the Dayton Community and the Hope Center for Families' first year of operation, the event, with a fundraising goal of one million dollars and an anticipated 500 attendees, will take place November 14 at Sinclair Community College.

A distinguished educator, activist, and author, Canada is renowned as a thought leader and passionate advocate for educational equity. Under Canada’s visionary leadership over three decades, the Harlem Children’s Zone became a national model of place-based innovation. HCZ started with one ambitious and audacious mission: end intergenerational poverty in Central Harlem and lead the way for other long-distressed communities nationwide and worldwide to do the same. The New York Times called HCZ “one of the most ambitious social-policy experiments of our time.” This innovative work aligns with Omega CDC’s and the gala theme of Hope is Rising.

Canada has become known nationally for his work, appearing on shows as diverse as Oprah and This American Life. The recipient of the first Heinz Award in 1994, Canada was named one of "America's Best Leaders" by U.S. News and World Report in 2005, and, in 2011, he was listed as one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. Canada and Harlem Children’s Zone figured prominently in the 2010 documentary Waiting for Superman. President Barack Obama’s Promise Neighborhoods program was modeled after HCZ, offering grants to programs in 21 cities across the country to try and emulate its success.

“Omega CDC is honored to have Geoffrey Canada deliver what is sure to be a memorable keynote address on the topic of bridging the divide between schools and the community to break the cycle of poverty,” said Vanessa Ward, President of Omega CDC. "Mr. Canada is an unparalleled innovator regarding educational equity, and I believe his message will be exactly what Dayton has been waiting to hear.”

“Schools alone cannot achieve the kind of equity we are seeking for our young people,” said Geoffrey Canada, President and Founder of Harlem Children’s Zone. “We need communities working in collaboration with schools to create cradle-to-career support so that our young people can access the resources they need, both in and out of the classroom. That’s the only way we can ensure underserved communities have a shot at achieving the American dream.”

The Omega CDC Hope Rising! Gala will take place on Monday, November 14, from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. at Sinclair Community College. For TICKETS or go to


About Omega Community Development Corporation (CDC)

The Omega Community Development Corporation (CDC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established by the Omega Baptist Church in 1997. With over 25 years of active involvement in the community, Omega CDC has developed a strong presence in Northwest Dayton, Ohio, and built a unique level of trust and familiarity with thousands of residents and numerous community organizations. Omega CDC's mission aims to equip individuals, families, and children with the resources, tools, and opportunities to break the cycle of generational poverty and achieve self-sufficiency through education, employment, economic development, and advocacy.

About Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ)

Harlem Children’s Zone breaks the cycle of intergenerational poverty with on-the-ground, all-around programming that builds up opportunities for children and families to thrive in school, work, and life. From early childhood, education, and career programs to community outreach and wellness initiatives, HCZ opens pathways to mobility and prosperity.

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