July 14, 2010; Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | New Jersey’s plans to get training for groups that might emulate the highly publicized Harlem Children’s Zone began before Chris Christie was elected governor, but the Christie Administration is following through.
The state has hired the Harlem Children’s Zone itself to deliver training to the Center for Family Services in South Jersey, which hopes to replicate HCZ in Camden’s Cooper-Lanning Square area with participation from members of the “Cooper-Lanning Camden Promise Team,” which includes representatives of Rowan and Rutgers universities, Cooper University Hospital, and foundations and other nonprofits, and to La Casa de Don Pedro which serves the Lower Broadway area in Newark.
Groups that admire the Harlem Children’s Zone and hope to be one of 20 or so Promise Neighborhood sites have high hopes for reversing long-term poverty in their neighborhoods. They ought to remember that changing the dynamic of poverty in one neighborhood in Camden or Newark is not possible at a local level on its own. All the good intentions and authentic collaborative interests of local nonprofits don’t obviate the need for national policies that break the cycle of poverty. Micro-solutions aren’t to be shunted aside, but they shouldn’t be over-hyped for their potential ameliorative impacts either.—Rick Cohen