Our Mission & Values

The mission of Harlem Children’s Zone is ambitious and audacious: end intergenerational poverty in Central Harlem and lead the way for other long-distressed communities nationwide and around the world to do the same.

Our Mission

Harlem Children’s Zone breaks the cycle of intergenerational poverty with comprehensive, on-the-ground programming that builds up opportunities for children and families to thrive in school, work, and life. From early childhood, education, and career programs to community outreach and wellness initiatives, HCZ opens pathways to mobility and prosperity.

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Video: Close up of Kwame Owusu-Kesse speaking to camera

Our Values

Our values guide everything we do. They are a critical part of our culture and help us provide the best programs and supports to the children and families we serve. The values work together and balance each other, informing how we behave and make decisions across the organization.

Children First

We embrace a holistic, youth-centered approach to create transformational opportunities, driven by justice and a radical hope for their future.


We set high expectations and uncompromising standards because our children, families, and community deserve consistent, high-quality opportunities and services.


We deeply value the knowledge, diversity, and experience that every child, family, community partner, and colleague brings.

Strategic Relentlessness

We explore every option to find the best approach to address the complex challenges each of our young people and families face.

Staff wave in front of bright mural.

Army of Love

We support each other and work together with laughter and joy to turn shared strength and wisdom into collective impact.

Best Selves to Best Serve

We bring our best selves to this challenging work each day, to best serve our young people, their families, and this community.