COVID-19 Relief and Recovery

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.

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

In short order, Harlem Children’s Zone conceived and implemented a comprehensive multi-pronged approach to emergency response and recovery, focusing on five crucial areas to help offset the pandemic’s impact on our community:

  • Protecting the most vulnerable
  • Bridging the digital divide
  • Preventing learning loss
  • Mitigating the mental health crisis
  • Providing economic relief and recovery

Kwame Owusu-Kesse Discusses COVID-19 Relief and Recovery

Kwame Owusu-Kesse, CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, joined Poppy Harlow on CNN to discuss Harlem Children’s Zone’s comprehensive COVID-19 relief and recovery response.

Support from the Audacious Project

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 at TED selected Harlem Children’s Zone as one of its prestigious 2020 project grantees, making a $26 million commitment towards our goal of raising $50 million to supercharge our COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts in six other communities around the country. The William Julius Wilson Institute at Harlem Children’s Zone is the platform for this national effort.

“At a time when efficacy and fast action are critical, Harlem Children’s Zone’s comprehensive approach and deep community ties are paramount to building an equitable recovery and resilient future,” says Anna Verghese Executive Director of The Audacious Project at TED. “We are grateful to be able to support their work both in Harlem and as their model expands across the country.”

Running high-quality programs in 30-plus sites across 97 blocks in Central Harlem, Harlem Children’s Zone 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, Harlem Children’s Zone is in a unique position to lead this innovative COVID-19 response and recovery coalition.

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5 Needs That Any COVID-19 Response Should Meet

In his TED Talk, Kwame Owusu-Kesse, CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, explains how our comprehensive COVID-19 relief and recovery response is supporting Black communities that have been disproportionately hit by the pandemic.

Partnering with Nonprofits in Areas of Need

The primary objective of of our national COVID-19 relief and recovery effort is to inject vital resources into communities that have historically faced neglect and disinvestment. Harlem Children’s Zone partnered 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:

Engaging National Partners

Harlem Children’s Zone 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 amplified impact through membership networks, advocacy, and mass communications. Bolstered by their on-the-ground efforts, Harlem Children’s Zone and our partners have reached more than 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.


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

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William Julius Wilson Institute

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