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Educator, Author and Advocate Geoff Canada To Speak at 2nd Annual National Philanthropy Day Honors

July 1, 2015

Geoff Canada, former president and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, and named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News and World Report, will be the closing speaker at the second annual National Philanthropy Day Honors held at the 92nd Street Y in New York on Nov. 12.

The National Philanthropy Day Honors, held by AFP, is an international awards program that recognizes outstanding generosity, leadership and innovation in the categories of Outstanding Philanthropist, Volunteer Fundraiser, Corporation, Foundation and Youth in Philanthropy (Group and Individual). A list of the finalists for each category is available on the National Philanthropy Day website (, and final honorees will be announced later this year.

The National Philanthropy Day Honors event is free to members and the public (a gift to the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy or the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy-Canada is suggested).

After his work as director of the Robert White School, a private school for troubled inner-city youth in Boston, Canada joined the Harlem Children’s Zone in 1983. He became president and CEO in 1990, and seven years later launched the Harlem Children’s Zone Project, which The New York Times called “one of the most ambitious social experiments in our time.”

The work of Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone became a national model and was featured in many media profiles. Most recently, Canada was profiled in the David Guggenheim documentary Waiting for Superman.

Canada has recently many awards for his work in advocating for children and families in some of America’s most devastated communities. He was a recipient of the first Heinz Award in 1994, and in 2004 was given the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education, as well as Child Magazine’s Children’s Champion Award. He has also received the Heroes of the Year Award from the Robin Hood Foundation, the Jefferson Award for Public Service and countless honorary degrees.

Canada himself grew up in the South Bronx in a poor, sometimes violent neighborhood. Despite his troubled surroundings, he succeeded academically, ultimately receiving a master’s in education from the Harvard School of Education. He drew upon his own childhood experiences and those at the Harlem Children’s Zone when he authored both Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America and Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America.

“Philanthropy is all about collective impact—people coming together to make change in their communities and the world—and Mr. Canada has demonstrated that philosophy and commitment throughout his life,” said Andrew Watt, FInstF, president and CEO of AFP. “His comments will bring together the work of our honorees this year—show us that we all have a role to play in helping each other—and we couldn’t be more excited to have him help celebrate National Philanthropy Day.”

National Philanthropy Day, celebrated every year on Nov. 15, is the day set aside to remember and recognize everything that philanthropy—and those involved in the philanthropic process—has brought to our world. President Reagan signed an official National Philanthropy Day proclamation in 1986, and in 2012, the Canadian government made it a permanent day of celebration for the country.

The National Philanthropy Day Honors are being held on Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. For more information, email

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