And, it's the connection between poverty and education that has one of TIME Magazine's "Most Influential People of 2011," visiting Mohawk Valley Community College today. Geoffrey Canada is focused on educational needs of our community.
According to a Community Indicators Project, Only 20 percent of adults living in Oneida County have a bachelor's degree. Now even though it will take time to change these numbers, some community members say bringing Geoffrey Canada to the Mohawk Valley is one step in the right direction.
"He's here with us today to inspire us, to educate us, what we can do, what we need to do," says Peggy O'Shea, CEO Community Foundation.
In 1997, Geoffrey Canada launched the Harlem Children's Zone Project to give children in Harlem a quality education. He says the key to success is coming together.
"If you're gonna save your children, and i think that in communities like Utica, Harlem, all over the country children are in trouble - the community has to come together to do it," says Geoffrey Canada, education reform pioneer.
Canada says starting early can help end the cycle of generational poverty.
"These kids get behind literally at birth so we created something we called baby college, helping parents understand why they need to talk to their children, play with their children, sing with their children," says Canada.
"You don't have to succumb to the environment you live in, you don't have to be a product of your environment," says Deondre Coston, Harlem Children's Zone graduate.
For Deondre Coston, Canada's message hits close to home. Deondre is a Harlem Children's Zone graduate and now, he attends Hamilton College.
"He made it easier for me to get an education and he made it easier for me to understand how important education is," says Coston.
"Many kids in poverty have not had educational opportunities and they don't see that light at the end of the tunnel," says Howard Mettelman, BOCES superintendent.
But Deondre says he as a message for these children.
"Think about your future, and where you wanna be and even though you're in poverty right now you can change that if you take education seriously. And let it be the vehicle to your success," says Coston.
"If we come together as a community to address these problems, that light at the tunnel is very bright," says Mettelman.
Geoffrey Canada came to the MVCC as part of a special speaker series presented by the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida counties.