Geoffrey Canada

Geoffrey Canada

Education Reform Activist

Harlem Children's Zone

New York, NY USA

Don’t feel like you’ve abandoned your mission because things are not exactly what you expect. Accept the opportunities that you get...even if it’s not what you want, accept them with glee and not with sadness.


By Roadtrip Nation

Geoffrey Canada


My road in life took a while to figure out.
Born and raised in the South Bronx neighborhood of New York.
His parents split up when he was three years old and his father only played a very small part in his life after that—says he was aware of the violence and chaos in his life from a very young age.
Growing up, violence was such an everyday part of his life, he says kids in his neighborhood used to rank each other based on how well they could fight.
When he was 12, he got a spring-loaded knife—says that knife represented freedom in his neighborhood and was an equalizer between him and the tougher guys on the street.
Says the thing that saved him from a life consumed by violence was moving to live with his grandparents on Long Island, New York, when he was a teenager.
Watching crime, drugs, and addiction destroy his community deeply affected him as a young man and inspired his life's work: to find the solutions to help the youth in communities like his.
After college, he was hired at Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families, which would later evolve into the revolutionary Harlem Children’s Zone under his leadership.
He is now a celebrated educator, author, motivational speaker, and educational reform activist dedicated to expanding educational opportunities for all students.
Keep following my journey


Education Reform Activist

I am an educator, social activist and author that aims to expand educational opportunities for all students.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Non-Profit Organizations
Upholding a Cause and Belief

Day to Day

I work with our teachers and education leaders to increase high school and college graduation rates among students in Harlem by constantly developing new and engaging curriculum. I occasionally do public speaking events and write op-eds for various news publications. I also advise and serve as a board member to several nonprofit organizations.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for high school students

You have to be open to accept the opportunities you get because you might not get the opportunities you want.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:


The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"You aren't tough enough to survive this school. "

Challenges I Overcame

Gangs / Violence
Single Parent
Drugs / Addiction

Interviewed By

Beating the Odds

Beating the Odds

Overcoming barriers as a first-generation college student