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Zone 2-7: Anchor of Hope

It is a priority of mine to make sure that all children in Kansas City have an opportunity through education to reach their full potential. This isn’t just the right thing to do, it is the wise thing to do in order to reduce crime and revitalize our city.

Soon after I took the office, I read Paul Tough’s book, Whatever it Takes, about Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone in New York City. The book describes Canada’s highly successful mission to insure that every child in the Zone attends college. I have been to New York twice to meet with Canada and discuss the Children’s Zone and I have met with him here in Kansas City. I am convinced that his model works and I am determined to see it replicated in Kansas City.

Toward this goal, I have been working with various individuals and organizations. In early 2009, I led a group of people representing various social agencies on a visit to the Harlem Children’s Zone. Soon a coalition of community forces, “Zone 2-7: Anchor of Hope,” was formed. Among the long list of cooperating agencies – private, public and non-profit – are Mid-America Regional Council (MARC); Operation Breakthrough; the Kansas City, Missouri School District; United Inner City Services; LINC; Guadeloupe Center; the Family Conservancy; and the Police Department.

Since that time, I worked with the City Council and have secured the seed funding to begin the process of replicating the Harlem Children’s Zone. The Kansas City program is designed to educate children out of poverty. Once in place, it will change the detrimental cycle of poverty, violence and crime into a cycle of success and viability, with the end-goal being that it brings families back to our abandoned and forgotten neighborhoods, thus, stimulating the re-population of the urban core, and with that, bring businesses and jobs back to our area.

If there is anything I have learned in office, it is that there is more than one way to reach a goal. And, as with anything worth doing, patience and perseverance goes a long way. With the amount of people and organizations in Kansas City that have invested in this initiative, I know we will succeed. The beneficiaries will be our young people, and ultimately, the entire region that we all call home.

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