The Audacious Project

Together with leading national and community-based institutions in six major American cities, HCZ is supercharging efforts to provide COVID-19 relief and recovery to Black communities that have been disproportionately hit.

About The Audacious Project

COVID-19 hit Black communities disproportionately hard. We took swift and broad action to hit back.

On short order, HCZ created a holistic solution to address the unique and urgent pressures that the pandemic put on our community. Our comprehensive and scaled response received national recognition for its unprecedented results and provided a new approach to fighting poverty and racial inequities across the U.S.

As a result, the Audacious Project made a $26 million commitment towards our goal of raising $50 million to support ongoing COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts in Harlem and six other communities around the country. The newly launched William Julius Wilson Institute at HCZ is serving as the platform for this national effort.

At a time when efficacy and fast action are critical, their comprehensive approach and deep community ties are paramount to building an equitable recovery and resilient future. We are grateful to be able to support their work both in Harlem and as their model expands across the country.

Anna Verghese

Executive Director of The Audacious Project at TED

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Running high-quality programs in 30+ sites across 97 blocks in Central Harlem, HCZ has an in-depth evidence base for its comprehensive approach across a variety of indicators—from early childhood development and education to physical health and wellness. With extensive on-the-ground experience at the neighborhood level, HCZ is in a unique position to lead this innovative COVID-19 coalition.

Areas of Support

Working side-by-side with leading anchor institutions in Minneapolis, Oakland, Newark, Detroit, Chicago, and Atlanta, HCZ is supercharging efforts in Harlem and launching new initiatives in partner cities to address Black communities’ most urgent needs and support recovery.

The five critical areas include:

  • Protecting the most vulnerable
  • Bridging the digital divide
  • Preventing learning loss
  • Mitigating the mental health crisis
  • Providing economic relief and recovery
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5 Needs That Any COVID-19 Response Should Meet

In a TED Talk, HCZ CEO Kwame Owusu-Kesse explains HCZ’s comprehensive COVID-19 relief and recovery response, focused on five primary areas of need.


The primary objective of this work is to inject vital resources into communities that have historically faced neglect and disinvestment. HCZ is partnering with six highly respected institutions that are located in areas with significant need, anchored in the communities they serve, and have the capacity to deliver on this effort:

HCZ also engaged a set of national partners—NAACP, StriveTogether, and PolicyLink—that have both national reach and footprints in our six partner communities. Their involvement will amplify impact through membership networks, advocacy, and mass communications. Bolstered by their on-the-ground efforts, HCZ and our partners aim to reach over 100,000 community members.

This investment will also strengthen a powerful, Black-led partnership. Together and in the years ahead, we can pool and leverage more resources to drive health equity, justice, and social and economic mobility in Black communities across America.

Learn more at

The Audacious Project | A man poses and smiles in front of a building

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