The Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program provides summer and after-school enrichment through an Integrated Reading Curriculum that serves children and families through five essential components: high quality academic enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational leadership development; and nutrition, health, and mental health supports.
This summer, CDF Freedom Schools partners plan to serve 12,500 children at 201 program sites in 87 cities and 27 states and the District of Columbia. These safe learning spaces for children are helping to replace the hopeless cycle of illiteracy, low graduation rates and limited futures with high expectations and a path to high school and college graduation and an opportunity to reach their God-given potential.
For the past five years the Dollar General Literary Fund has supported the CDF Freedom Schools program and helped to stem summer learning loss for thousands of children across the country, including in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2013, a five-year study of children enrolled at Charlotte CDF Freedom Schools sites conducted by the University of North Carolina, Charlotte found that over 90 percent of participating children showed no summer learning loss, and 65 percent showed gains in reading. The National Summer Learning Association honored Freedom Schools Partners in Charlotte with the 2013 New York Life Excellence in Summer Learning Award for demonstrating excellence in accelerating academic achievement and promoting healthy development for low-income young people.
Young people like Kyla. When Kyla was in the third grade, she failed the state-required end-of-grade tests at her Charlotte, North Carolina elementary school. Her grandmother was worried that summer school wouldn't be fun, but then she heard about the CDF Freedom Schools program, and she knew Kyla would love the program and learn at the same time. Kyla's principal agreed that she could participate in the CDF Freedom Schools program with the condition that Kyla retake her tests in the middle of the summer. When she did, she passed with the highest possible score. Kyla gave her CDF Freedom Schools experience the credit, especially the way the program is designed to foster a love of reading: “The stories we read in Freedom School, I could relate to, and we got to keep our books at the end of each week so I could read them again at home.”
Since 1995, more than 113,000 children in grades preK-12 have had a CDF Freedom Schools experience. College students and recent graduates are trained as Servant Leader Interns to deliver the Integrated Reading Curriculum. More than 13,000 Servant Leader Interns have been trained and many have gone on to become teachers, principals and professors.
Learn how you can make a difference with the Children's Defense Fund and the CDF Freedom Schools program by visiting the website www.childrensdefense.org.