Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) is excited to announce that Geoffrey Canada, founder of Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), will headline its Annual Gala on Tuesday, September 25, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Denver at the Colorado Convention Center. An exclusive VIP reception with Canada will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by the dinner and the program at 6:30 p.m.
In his 20-plus years with HCZ, Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform. HCZ works with the community and families to increase high school and college graduation rates among students in Harlem. The New York Times Magazine called HCZ “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time.”
The work of Canada and HCZ has become a national model and has been the subject of many profiles in the media. Their work has been featured on 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Nightline, CBS This Morning, The Charlie Rose Show, and NPR’s On Point, as well in articles in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, USA Today, and Newsday. Canada was prominently featured in the Davis Guggenheim documentary Waiting for “Superman.” Most recently, Geoffrey Canada was featured on the hit Netflix show Luke Cage, and appeared on HBO’s Insecure.
Canada grew up in the South Bronx in a poor, sometimes violent neighborhood. Despite his troubled surroundings, he was able to succeed academically, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bowdoin College and a master’s degree in education from the Harvard School of Education. After graduating from Harvard, Canada decided to work to help children who, like himself, were disadvantaged by their lives in poor, embattled neighborhoods.
Drawing upon his own childhood experiences and those at HCZ, he wrote Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America and Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America. In its review of Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America, Publishers Weekly said, “a more powerful depiction of the tragic life of urban children and a more compelling plea to end ‘America’s war against itself’ cannot be imagined.”
For his years of work advocating for children and families in some of America’s most devastated communities, Canada was a recipient of the first Heinz Award in 1994. In 2004, he was given the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education and Child Magazine’s Children’s Champion Award.
Canada has also received the Heroes of the Year Award from the Robin Hood Foundation; the Jefferson Award for Public Service; the Spirit of the City Award from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; the Brennan Legacy Award from New York University; and the Common Good Award from Bowdoin College. He has received honorary degrees from Harvard University, Bowdoin College, Williams College, John Jay College, Bank Street College, and Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary.
DSF’s chief executive officer, Lorii Rabinowitz, commented, “each year, we work with thousands of Denver Public Schools’ (DPS) students supporting them on their journeys to and through college graduation. We are honored to feature Mr. Canada, who was named one of ‘America’s Best Leaders’ by US News and World Report, as our speaker for the Annual Gala. Every one of our students, and each of our DSF Scholars, have immense potential that we have the privilege of empowering, celebrating and mobilizing. Their success is significant, and it is our inspiration. Mr. Canada will ignite a needed fuel in our community to get more even more students to and through colleges across the state, in partnership with DSF. This is an evening you do not want to miss.”
DSF’s Annual Gala has raised millions of dollars to make college possible for thousands of students in Denver. Since 2007, DSF has awarded $38 million in scholarships to more than 6,300 DPS students. Along with the featured speaker, the evening’s program will also highlight the inspirational stories of several DSF Scholars.
Event co-chairs include Michelle and John (DSF Board Member) Hanley, and Heidi and Bruce Hoyt, long-time supporters of DSF.
Proceeds from the Annual Gala 2019 will make it possible for thousands of DPS graduates to complete a college degree. Thanks to the long-standing and generous support of the event’s anonymous presenting sponsor, all event costs are underwritten and every dollar raised will go directly to scholarships. Additionally, every dollar donated to the scholarship fund will be matched, as available, by the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI), a program administered by the Colorado Department of Higher Education.