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Harlem Children's Zone

Harlem Children's Zone


In 2013, Harvard economists Roland Fryer, Jr. and Will Dobbie reported in a National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper that the Promise Academy “increases a wide range of human measures”: “Six years after the random admissions lottery, youth offered admission to the Promise Academy middle school score 0.283 standard deviations higher on a nationally-normed math achievement test and are 14.1 percentage points more likely to enroll in college. Admitted females are 12.1 percentage points less likely to be pregnant in their teens, and males are 4.3 percentage points less likely to be incarcerated.” The researchers concluded with “speculative evidence that high-performing schools may be sufficient to significantly improve human capital and reduce certain risky behaviors among the poor."

Within EMCF’s framework for assessing an organization’s evidence of effectiveness, HCZ's Promise Academies meet the standard of "proven effectiveness.”

In 2009, Fryer and Dobbie completed an experimental evaluation that found HCZ’s Promise Academy Charter Schools were “enormously effective at increasing the achievement of the poorest minority children.” New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote of their findings: 

"That’s off the charts. In math, Promise Academy eliminated the achievement gap between its black students and the city average for white students. Let me repeat that. It eliminated the black-white achievement gap." 


Mathematica Policy Research is conducting a longitudinal evaluation (which began in 2008) of participants' outcomes and program processes over 10 years or longer. The evaluation is testing HCZ’s hypothesis that interconnected programs support healthy youth development and produce lasting positive outcomes for young people.