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Whatever It Takes

Social activist Geoffrey Canada is the man behind the Harlem Children’s Zone — described by President Obama as  “an all-encompassing, all-hands-on-deck antipoverty effort that is literally saving a generation of children.”

As Paul Tough writes in Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America, the Harlem Children’s Zone is a 97-block social experiment predicated on the idea that “if you want poor kids to compete with their middle-class peers, you need to change everything in their lives–their schools, their neighborhoods, even the child-rearing practices of their parents.” (You may have heard Tough on NPR’s This American Life talking about Baby College, a component of the Harlem Children’s Zone focused on teaching parents — and expectant parents — how to help their children pursue the education they need to succeed.)

Are you thinking that the Harlem Children’s Zone sounds like a Schweitzer project on a grand scale? So are we — and that’s why we’ve made Whatever It Takes ASF’s very first Recommended Reading choice.

Each month on this blog, we’ll highlight books in line with ASF’s mission — eliminating health disparities by developing “leaders in service” who are skilled in and committed to meeting the health needs of the underserved, and whose example influences and inspires others.  We’ll facilitate a discussion of those books and how they relate to the work you’re doing as Schweitzer Fellows, Fellows for Life, or other service-oriented individuals on the blog and on our Facebook page.

And best of all? The first four Fellows,  Fellows for Life, site mentors, or academic mentors to comment on this post (and tell us why they want to know more about the Harlem Children’s Zone) will each win a copy of Whatever It Takes, generously donated by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company!

Get to it — and stay tuned for details (including the date) for our upcoming Whatever it Takes online discussion!