25th Annual California
Charter Schools Conference

25th Annual California
Charter Schools Conference
Plenary Session Speakers

Monday, March 26, 2018

Opening Plenary Session, 1:30–2:45 pm
Location: 20A

Geoffrey Canada

Nationally Known Author, Children’s Advocate and Founder Of Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ)

In his 20 plus years with HCZ, Geoffrey Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform. 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 and NPR’s “On Point,” as well as in articles in The New York Times, USA Today and Newsday. Most recently, Canada can be seen prominently featured in the Davis Guggenheim documentary Waiting for “Superman.” The National Book Award winning author Jonathan Kozol has called Canada, “One of the few authentic heroes of New York and one of the best friends children have, or ever will have, in our nation.”

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 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 the Harlem Children’s Zone, 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.

A third-degree black belt, Canada is also the founder (in 1983) of the Chang Moo Kwan Martial Arts School. Despite his busy schedule as head of HCZ, he continues to teach the principles of Tae Kwon Do to community youth along with anti-violence and conflict-resolution techniques.

For his years of work advocating for children and families in some of America’s most devastated communities, Canada has been the recipient of many awards including the first Heinz Award in 1994, the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education, the Heroes of the Year Award from the Robin Hood Foundation and The Jefferson Award for Public Service.

The 25th annual conference will be held March 26–28, 2018 in San Diego, CA at the San Diego Convention Center.