$26 Million Is an “Audacious” Pledge

Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) will receive a $26-million commitment through The Audacious Project to inject vital resources into six communities nationwide that have historically faced neglect and disinvestment as part of its response to COVID-19.

HCZ aims to raise $50 million to support implementation of COVID-19 relief efforts. The newly launched William Julius Wilson Institute (WJW) at HCZ will serve as the platform for the national effort.

HCZ is partnering with six institutions in areas with significant needs and have the capacity to deliver on the effort:

“Harlem Children’s Zone is delivering emergency resources and services designed to address the needs of Black communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” Anna Verghese, executive director of The Audacious Project at TED, said via a statement. “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,” she said.

The investment by Audacious “underscores our model’s critical element — targeting neighborhoods with comprehensive services — which unlocks the great potential in our communities and ensures a pathway to social and economic mobility,” Harlem Children’s Zone CEO Kwame Owusu-Kesse said.

As the pandemic hit, HCZ implemented a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to emergency response and recovery, focusing on five areas to help offset the pandemic’s impact on its community, including:

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

HCZ has engaged a set of national partners, including NAACP, StriveTogether and PolicyLink, with footprints in the seven communities and national reach and who will amplify impact through membership networks, advocacy, and mass communications. Through direct work on the ground, HCZ and its partners aim to reach more than 100,000 community members.

The Audacious Project was launched in April 2018 as a collaborative funding initiative catalyzing social impact on a grand scale. Housed at TED, the nonprofit “devoted to ideas worth spreading,” and with support from social impact advisor The Bridgespan Group, The Audacious Project convenes funders and social entrepreneurs with the goal of supporting bold solutions to the world’s most urgent challenges.