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Paul Tough’s Whatever It Takes

Written by New York Times editor Paul Tough, Whatever It Takes is a compelling, in-depth look at the groundbreaking work of the Harlem Children’s Zone and its leader, Geoffrey Canada. Tough spent five years researching the work of the Children’s Zone, interviewing staff, students and parents. In addition, Tough surveys the theoretical underpinnings of HCZ’s work, talking to national experts in education and poverty. Whatever It Takes was named one of the “Best Books of 2008” by the editors of The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

> Buy Whatever It Takes on Amazon

> Read an Excerpt

> Read Tough’s new Afterword

Note to Educators

Provided here is a lesson plan (in Adobe PDF format) which can be used to initiate discussions about urban education issues explored in the book.

> View Lesson Plan


“A story more gripping and inspiring than you’d imagine social policy could possibly be.”

GQ Magazine 

“I wish every city had a Geoffrey Canada … His vision of a renewed Harlem community, and his accomplishments toward achieving it, attest to the power we all have to overcome poverty and hopelessness in America.”

– President Bill Clinton

“This unflinching book will motivate us all to take action and make our schools places of possibility and hope.”

Essence Magazine

“… [Brings] you inside the Promise Academy and into the mind of a visionary who has known failure … yet has the nerve to keep the future squarely in view.”

O Magazine

“This book changed my understanding of poverty in America in the most surprising way: it made feel hopeful.”

– Ira Glass, host, This American Life

“A must-read for any American committed to solving our nation’s greatest social injustice — the fact that in a country that aspires so admirably to be a land of equal opportunity, the socioeconomic circumstances into which you are born still determine your opportunity in life.”

– Wendy Kopp, CEO and founder, Teach for America

New York Times Review

Washington Post Review

Los Angeles Times Review