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Harlem Children's Zone

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GiveWell aims to find the best giving opportunities we can and recommend them to donors. We tend to put a lot of investigation into the organizations we find most promising, and de-prioritize others based on limited information. When we decide not to prioritize an organization, we try to create a brief writeup of our thoughts on that charity because we want to be as transparent as possible about our reasoning. The following write-up should be viewed in this context: it explains why we determined that (for the time being), we won't be prioritizing the organization in question as potential top charity. This write-up should not be taken as a "negative rating" of the charities. Rather, it is our attempt to be as clear as possible about the process by which we came to our top recommendations.

A note on this page's publication date

The last time we examined the charities working primarily in the U.S. was in 2010. As of 2011, we have de-prioritized further work on this cause. The content we created in 2010 appears below. This content is likely to be no longer fully accurate, both with respect to what it says about the organization and with respect to what it implies about our own views and positions.

Published: 2010; Updated: 2011

We credit Harlem Children's Zone with rigorously evaluaing one of its charter schools.1 For more on this evaluation, see our blog posts on the Harlem Children's Zone: In July 2010, we reviewed Harlem Children's Zone's web site, and, in January 2011, we spoke with representatives of the organization.2 Harlem Children's Zone discussed its evaluation process, which includes the use of a combination of internal and external evaluators. They stated that most of their evaluations are designed for internal program improvement and not for external use. Exceptions include the study by Harvard scientists Will Dobbie and Roland Fryer that is discussed above. Harlem Children's Zone also discussed how it would invest additional donations. This includes funding ongoing growth in the number of children served, a program for helping young people graduate from college, its endowment, and capital dollars for a new facility for one of the charter schools whose performance results are mentioned above. Because Harlem Children's Zone will not provide us with internal studies, we have not been able to confirm the organization's reports of how it monitors program quality on an ongoing basis and the degree to which its programs are effective. With the information we have, Harlem Children's Zone does not currently qualify for our highest ratings.


  • 1. The charter school was Promise Academy I, and the study was Fryer and Dobbie (2009).
  • 2. Harlem Children's Zone representatives, phone conversation with GiveWell, January 18, 2011.