By Azuka Nzegwu (March 8, 2006)
Overview of Management and Strategy Issues
The Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ), formerly known as the Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families was facing problems with management and strategy. Started in 1979 by Richard Murphy to help truants in Manhattan’s upper west side community, the organization also had a range of programs to address disadvantaged populations such as the elderly and the homeless. During the 1990s, the Harlem’s Children’s Zone was growing rapidly under a dynamic leader, Geoffrey Canada. Because of the growth, the organization needed to evaluate their programs and determine where their efforts should be concentrated to reap the most social investment. As the organization grew, the need of evaluating and identifying the strengths became crucial, as well as sustaining that organizational growth. The management and strategy issue the organization faced, which plagues other nonprofits is effective resource allocation in mission-critical program. Second, organizations that do not have a mechanism of evaluating the programs cannot determine their effectiveness or if the programs are producing results that will further the organization’s mission. The inability to demonstrate their commitment to their mission will make it difficult to secure future funding. If organizations, such as HCZ with an ambitious goal of educating every poor child in a 64-block area in Harlem are to achieve their goals, they need to understand their long-term plan and to be able to inform funders as to how they are meeting their milestone if they want to receive funding to continue to grow. These are some of the problems Harlem Children’s Zone faced. Essentially, the organization needed a way to effectively manage their operations, secure long-term funding, evaluate their programs, and meet their intended impact.