Who We Are

William Julius Wilson Institute at Harlem Children’s Zone is a national resource for place-based, people-focused solutions that open pathways to social and economic mobility.

Named for one of our nation’s most prolific African American scholars on poverty and inequality, and led by Geoffrey Canada, founder and president of Harlem Children’s Zone, William Julius Wilson Institute works with on-the-ground collaborators and national partners to deliver comprehensive strategies, support services, and tools that systematically root out poverty and close opportunity gaps in neighborhoods across America.

William Julius Wilson Institute is a central hub for place-based services and programs, and for backbone organizations to access the supports they need to be successful.

Kwame Owusu-Kesse and Geoffrey Canada talk to Poppy Harlow at HCZ Promise Academy I

What We Do

Through our work with communities, one million young people will be connected to opportunities that place them on a pathway to social and economic mobility and racial equity. These outcomes will drive and be driven by systems change and scalable solutions that are informed by research and practice.

We believe place-based work requires and must center the development of cradle-to-career supports to achieve economic and social mobility, and advance racial equity. Despite momentum in the place-based field, outcome disparities persist and the most impacted populations are lost in averages. Place-based efforts that are not designed by and for those most marginalized risk advancing social and economic mobility inequitably and fail to serve those most in need.

Through direct work with a set of places, as well as broader field-building efforts, William Julius Wilson Institute will build an ecosystem that enables high-impact, place-based work, and effectively resources and empowers proximate neighborhood leaders as integral to driving sustainable change in the most vulnerable communities.


Discover resources from William Julius Wilson Institute for driving sustainable change in the most vulnerable communities.

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Our Partners

About William Julius Wilson

A man smiles in front of a building

William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University

William Julius Wilson is a sociologist and Harvard University professor who has authored seminal works on urban sociology, race, and class. His work has identified the importance of neighborhood effects and demonstrated how limited employment opportunities and weakened institutional resources exacerbate poverty in American cities.

His books include Power, Racism and Privilege (1973), The Declining Significance of Race (1978), The Truly Disadvantaged (1987), When Work Disappears (1996), The Bridge over the Racial Divide (1999), There Goes the Neighborhood (2006, co-author), Good Kids from Bad Neighborhoods (2006, co-author), and, most recently, More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City (2009).