Whatever It Takes Book Study—Part 4

If you are just joining us as we read through <a href="Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2, as well as Part 3.

The Power of a Promise
Geoffrey Canada started his work with a promise, and it was communicated through the Promise Academy’s creed that was recited in unison by the school’s first graduating class: “I promise to always dream out loud, to lift my head and be proud. And never end up a face in the crowd.” [p. 256] While this isn’t word-for-word what Canada promised students and parents at the Promise Academy, it reflected his promise of hope for the poor kids in Harlem and across the United States.

The last two chapters of Paul Tough’s book reflect on the goals, both met and unmet, of Canada’s dream and vision for the Promise Academy and Harlem Children’s Zone. While his vision came to fruition as the first Promise Academy class graduated, Canada was also thinking and strategizing for how to make things better, how goals could be met more fully, and how his dream for Harlem could be duplicated in poor communities across the country.

The Orange Connection
Canada’s life work was motivated by a question: “Why not give every child the tools to succeed? Why not level the playing field for real?” [p. 267] Canada understands, though, that a question will remain a question without a strategy. “[Canada] believed without [strategy], he would never truly be able to change Harlem’s culture—he would never successfully infuse it with a new set of values.” [pg. 263-264]

Orange believes strategy is essential to partnering parents with the church. And like Canada, church leaders want to change the culture, infuse a new set of values. As leaders, we also want to change the world for children and teens.

Canada was creative and innovative in building a strategy that has had a major impact on a culture, and continues to challenge a community to think beyond their obvious limits and dream for a brighter and bigger tomorrow.

Think On This
What is your strategy for reaching families? How can you align leaders and parents to lead with the same end in mind? How are you communicating your goals and strategies to your church leadership, congregation and community? What can you pull from Canada’s strategies or goals and implement in your ministry?