TIME Person of the Year Geoffrey Canada speaks at MVCC


UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - One of "Time" magazine's Persons of the Year and founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, Geoffrey Canada spoke at Mohawk Valley Community College Wednesday. The event was part of The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties' Leadership Speaker Series.

As the The Harlem Children's Zone founder, Canada has changed education for thousands of impoverished children, inspiring them to go onto and succeed in college. He's been on 60 minutes, has had books written on him, the documentary "Waiting for Superman" is based on his ideas, and Wednesday, he spoke to inspire the Mohawk Valley community and its own education efforts.

Almost 2,000 students and community leaders filled MVCC's Robert R. Jorgensen Athletic/Events Center to hear his message.

His approach is that education has to start at birth, and continue through college and that success is not just up to education leaders, but the whole community working together.

"We've also got to think about how do we engage our social service our community service our sports and athletics so that we're all really coming together to support children," said Canada. "Any one activity by itself is not going to be successful, it's only if we all come together that we find these kids really do well."

How do you improve education on tight budgets we've seen school districts facing? Canada says the money is something communities are going to pay one way or another.

"(You're) Either going to pay it up front and help that little boy or girl be successful, or we're going to be paying in welfare and food stamps..." said Canada. "I've been trying to stop our communities from following California, which did all the wrong investments, they've got so many people in jails they can't afford to keep their schools operating."

Deondre Coston a graduate of the Harlem Children's Zone's high school called the Promise Academy introduced Canada at the event. Coston is now a freshman at Hamilton College.

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