Empowerment Zones and Student Achievement

Since the 1960s, there has been a continuous educational policy debate about how to improve urban public education. Urban schools located in areas of concentrated poverty serve mostly African American, Hispanic American, and immigrant students who, on average, perform less well than White students on standardized tests and a host of other school outcome measures. In the 1990s the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sought to improve business and educational opportunities in areas of concentrated poverty by declaring them empowerment zones. Empowerment zones are designated urban neighborhoods that receive special business and education benefits to boost community viability and safety.

Borrowing this concept, educator Geoffrey Canada and his colleagues founded the nonprofit Harlem Children's Zone Project (HCZ) in New York City. Since its founding ...

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