An Interview with Geoffrey
(EU):How did you choose your career?
Geoffrey Canada (GC): Growing
up in the South Bronx, I knew very early—at the age of
11—that I wanted to help children in the inner cities,
to combine education with social services.
a turning point in your career?
major turning point in my life was going to high school in
Wyandanch, Long Island, instead of Morris High School in
The Bronx in New York City. I don’t know if I would
have gotten the education in The Bronx, or if I would have
grown or developed as I did.
are you proudest of?
proudest achievement is creating the Harlem Children’s Zone Project, where
we now have a “conveyor belt of care,” for kids.
We start with them literally before they are born—by
offering parenting workshops at The Baby College—and
continue to work with them through college.
EU: What were the challenges you faced
and how did you overcome them?
two biggest challenges were poverty and violence. I overcame
them through a combination of meeting a few individuals who
took an interest in me and made me feel like I was special—and
luck. I was lucky enough to not be around when my friends decided
to do something that might have landed me in jail. Getting
a great education—at Bowdoin College and Harvard University—also
was instrumental in helping me overcome my challenges.
I was a boy, a young man named Mike taught me how to survive
on the streets of New York City. As a professional, John
at Harvard—was a great guiding light for me. In my later
career, Marian Wright Edelman helped me immeasurably.
EU: What is your advice
to young people today?
GC: Get a college education.
The employment picture in this country is growing more and
more complicated due to the exporting of jobs around the world.
Given the increasing global competition for jobs, a college
degree is a minimum requirement.