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Whatever It Takes

A comprehensive plan for children that has caught the eye of Barack Obama.

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Putting a child on a “conveyor belt” might seem like a cold image. But in the hands of Geoffrey Canada, it’s a metaphor cradled in unrelenting love.

For the founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a nonprofit serving more than 7,000 children a year, no moment is wasted in the quest to give kids everything they need to grow and learn and succeed – everything that poverty would try to deny them.

Paul Tough, an editor at The New York Times Magazine, gained virtually unrestricted access to Canada and his organization over the course of nearly five years. As a result, he delivers both a personal portrait and a broad primer on the intersections of class, race, and education in Whatever It Takes.

The Harlem Children’s Zone is a living laboratory for many of the theories and policies that have sprung up as the United States tries to chip away at the “achievement gap” – the buzzword for low-income students and certain minority groups lagging behind their peers.

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