In April 2007, Mayor John Peyton, members of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission board and staff, and other community leaders traveled to Harlem, New York to learn more about the Harlem Children’s Zone® (HCZ), and it’s HCZ Project. The HCZ Project is a “multi-year comprehensive community building initiative of the Harlem Children’s Zone®.” It assists parents and caregivers, business leaders, professionals, residents, teachers and other stakeholders in creating a safe environment and pipeline to success for children who reside in a 97-block area of Central Harlem (www.hcz.org).
Under the leadership of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission, a Steering Committee was formed to help develop a neighborhood project in Jacksonville that will use the strategies behind the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone in a unique and specific way that will reflect Jacksonville’s unique cultural, geographic and economic character. While the scale of the Harlem Children’s Zone and its ability to raise significant funding from the community around it are nearly impossible to replicate in Jacksonville, this project would use the combined strategies of powerfully linking and rigorously evaluating key services for children to positively change child outcomes.
The New Town Success Zone continues to be a valued partner and funded program provider of the Kids Hope Alliance.