Geoffrey Canada (Doctor of Humane Letters)

Geoffrey CanadaJune 9, 2013

GEOFFREY CANADA, you are a tireless champion for education reform, committed to helping disadvantaged children and families transform their lives through the support of the Harlem Children's Zone.

Growing up in the South Bronx, you overcame many challenges to excel academically, going on to receive a scholarship from Bowdoin College and later earn a master's degree in education at Harvard. Instead of pursuing more lucrative career possibilities, you returned to Harlem and dedicated your life to lifting underprivileged children out of the cycle of poverty into which they were born.

In 1983, you began working as the education director at the Rheedlen Foundation, later known as the Harlem Children's Zone, eventually rising to president and chief executive officer. In 1997, you launched the Harlem Children's Zone Project, which seeks to provide children in Harlem the support they in need find personal, academic and, eventually, professional success. Today, the Project covers an astounding 100 blocks and is helping change more than 17,000 lives. President Obama has praised it as "an all-encompassing, all-hands-on-deck, anti-poverty effort that is literally saving a generation of children."

Nationally recognized for your work, you have been named one of "America's Best Leaders" by U.S. News & World Report and one of the world's "100 most influential people" by TIME magazine.

Your life and career is profiled in the powerful award-winning film Waiting for Superman, in which you recall that one of the saddest days of your life was when your mother told you Superman did not exist. The devastating thought that "no one was coming with enough power to save us" brought you to tears.

Geoffrey, for the extraordinary vision and dedication that has made you that very superhero to thousands of children, Dartmouth is proud to present you with the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters.

President Carol L. Folt