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5 needs that any COVID-19 response should meet

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    Good evening.
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    It is such a blessing to work
    at the Harlem Children's Zone,
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    an African-American-led organization
    that has pioneered the field
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    of comprehensive place-based services,
    from cradle to career.
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    And that word, "comprehensive,"
    is so key to what we do.
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    You know, most interventions
    focus on one piece
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    of a complicated, giant puzzle.
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    But that's not enough to solve the puzzle.
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    You don't solve education
    without understanding the home context
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    or the home environment
    of our young scholar.
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    Or the broader context of health,
    nutrition or criminal justice.
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    The unit of change for us
    is not the individual child,
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    it's the entire neighborhood.
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    You have to do multiple things
    at the same time.
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    And we have 20 years of data
    to prove that this works.
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    We've had 7,000 graduates
    of our baby college,
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    we've eliminated the Black-white
    achievement gap in our schools.
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    We've reduced obesity rates
    in our health programs
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    and have close to 1,000 students
    enrolled in college.
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    We weave together
    a net of services so tightly,
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    so that no one will fall
    through the cracks.
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    And we've inspired global practitioners.
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    We've had over 500-plus
    communities across the US
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    and 70-plus countries
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    come and visit us to learn our model.
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    You see, the problems of the globe,
    and the problems of the world
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    are not neatly siloed into buckets.
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    So therefore the solutions
    must be comprehensive,
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    they must be holistic.
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    And now we're in the midst
    of a global pandemic.
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    COVID-19 has revealed to us
    what we always knew to be true.
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    The poorest among us pay the highest price
    with their lives and their livelihood.
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    And that's playing out every day
    in the African American community,
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    where we're 3.6 times
    more likely to die of COVID
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    than our white counterparts.
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    We're seeing those health disparities
    on the ground in New York City,
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    our nation's epicenter.
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    And to compound the impact
    of the health disparities,
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    there's significant economic devastation,
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    where one in four
    of our families in Harlem
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    report food insecurity,
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    and 57 percent report a loss of income
    or a loss of their job.
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    But to better understand the work
    of the Harlem Children's Zone,
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    I want to share a story with you,
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    about a second-grade scholar named Sean.
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    Sean is a beautiful Black boy
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    whose smile would light up
    any room that he's in.
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    And when quarantine began in March,
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    we noticed that Sean
    wasn't attending virtual school.
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    And after some investigation,
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    we've come to learn that Sean's mom
    was hospitalized due to COVID.
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    So he was at home
    with grandma and his baby sibling,
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    who was his only viable support system,
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    since Sean's father is incarcerated.
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    Grandma was struggling.
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    There wasn't much food in the household,
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    limited diapers,
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    and Sean didn't even have a computer.
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    When mom was released from the hospital,
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    their challenges deepened,
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    because they could no longer
    stay with grandma,
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    due to her preexisting health conditions.
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    So Sean, his baby sibling and his mom
    had to go to a shelter.
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    Sean's story is not atypical
    at the Harlem Children's Zone.
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    We know Sean and millions like him
    all across the country
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    deserve to have everything
    that this world has to offer,
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    without inequality
    robbing them of that opportunity.
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    All the result of racism
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    and historical and systemic
    underinvestment
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    are now compounded by COVID-19.
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    Our comprehensive model
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    uniquely positions the Harlem
    Children's Zone in the fight of COVID.
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    The success that we have
    on the ground in Harlem
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    makes it imperative,
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    and it is our responsibility
    to share what we know works
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    with the country.
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    We have developed a comprehensive
    COVID-19 relief and recovery response
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    for our community,
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    that was surfaced from our community,
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    focused on five primary areas of need,
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    and already servicing
    families like Sean's.
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    They are the following.
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    One, emergency relief funds.
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    We know that our families need cash
    in their hands right now.
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    Two, protecting our most vulnerable.
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    We know our families need access
    to essential goods and information.
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    So that is food, that's masks,
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    that's a curated resource list
    and public health campaigns.
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    Three, bridging the digital divide.
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    We believe that internet
    is a fundamental right.
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    So we need to ensure
    our families have connectivity,
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    and also all school-age
    children in a household
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    have the proper learning devices.
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    Four, zero learning loss.
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    We know that there's a generation
    of students at risk
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    of losing an entire year
    of their education.
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    We need to make sure that we are providing
    high-quality virtual programing,
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    in addition to having safe
    reentry planned for school reentry.
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    And five, mitigating
    the mental health crisis.
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    There's a generation at risk
    of having PTSD,
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    due to the massive amounts
    of toxic stress.
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    We need to ensure that our families
    have access to telehealth
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    and other virtual supports.
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    We have six amazing partners
    across six cities in the United States
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    that are adopting our model
    for their own context in their community.
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    They are Oakland, Minneapolis,
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    Chicago, Detroit, Newark and Atlanta.
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    In addition to those partners,
    we have three national partners,
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    who will be sharing our model
    and sharing our strategies
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    through their network,
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    in addition to amplifying our impact
    by policy advocacy.
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    We will have impact on three levels.
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    Individual impact on the ground in Harlem,
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    across a number of outcomes in education,
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    in health, in economics,
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    reaching 30,000 people.
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    There's community-level impact
    across six cities,
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    again through our amazing partners,
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    that will reach an additional
    70,000 people.
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    And then national impact,
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    not only through policy advocacy,
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    but through capacity building at scale.
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    Our answer to COVID-19,
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    the despair and inequities
    plaguing our communities,
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    is targeting neighborhoods
    with comprehensive services.
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    We have certainly not lost hope.
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    And we invite you to join us
    on the front lines of this war.
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    Thank you.
Title:
5 needs that any COVID-19 response should meet
Speaker:
Kwame Owusu-Kesse
Description:

Crisis interventions often focus on a single aspect of a big, complicated problem, failing to address the broader social and economic context. Kwame Owusu-Kesse describes how the Harlem Children's Zone is taking a more holistic approach to the pandemic, weaving together a network of services to help communities recover and rebuild. Learn more about their comprehensive COVID-19 relief and recovery response focused on five primary areas of need -- and their plans to scale it across the US. (This ambitious plan is a part of the Audacious Project, TED's initiative to inspire and fund global change.)

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Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TEDTalks
Duration:
06:36

English subtitles

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