Evaluation of the Harlem Children's Zone Healthy Harlem Initiative

2012-2017
Prepared for
Harlem Children's Zone

The Healthy Harlem initiative is a model for promoting healthy lifestyles in the charter schools, early childhood programs, and afterschool programs operated by the Harlem Children’s Zone® (HCZ). Healthy Harlem is being rolled out over a three-year period, with three different cohorts of sites beginning implementation in fall 2012, fall 2013, and fall 2014.

The evaluation includes both an implementation/process study and an impact study. The implementation study uses a combination of administrative records, staff interviews, focus groups, on-site observations, and a menu analysis to examine site-level implementation. The impact study assesses impacts on students’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to nutrition and physical activity as well as impacts on weight status (body mass index [BMI]) and fitness levels. 

The impact study includes two separate substudies. The first substudy is evaluating the impact of the main initiative, which is provided to all children, using a quasi-experimental pre-test/post-test design in which child outcomes are compared before and after implementation of Healthy Harlem. The second substudy is assessing the impact of a more intensive component (called Get Fit), which is offered to children who are overweight or obese, based on a random assignment difference-in-difference design. The study also includes a comprehensive trends analysis, which will examine BMI and fitness levels in the HCZ population over a five-year period (2012-2017).