CDF Freedom Schools

cdf freedom schools

Freedom schools is…

A six week, high-impact summer literacy based program that weaves together five key components:

  • a culturally-infused integrated reading curriculum with weekly “I can make a difference” themes
  • intergenerational leadership development
  • community-based social action
  • family and community partnerships
  • a nutrition and health program

Freedom Schools is a program of the national Children’s Defense Fund.   Sponsor partners served over 13,000 youth in 107 cities across 29 states last year.  Learn more about the national CDF Freedom Schools movement here.

The Impact

Freedom Schools fuels identity formation and belonging, scholar academic engagement, literacy skill development, and leadership capacity building.


Scholars averaged a 24 month growth in reading levels in just 6 weeks

Self Determination!

Scholars expressed 25% positive growth ethnic identity,  attitudes towards education, and growth mindset

Halting summer learning loss!

96% of scholars maintain or improved academically

Leadership Development

25% increase in scholars who believe they can make a difference

At Freedom school, we read books that reflect our history where the protagonists are black and brown. This flips the narrative because you are no longer an observer of history but a participant in it; you are it. So to make history, to get people to listen to our voices, we had to disrupt the order of things. Historically, marching and activism are catalysts for change, so we marched over a mile from the school district building to city hall and shared our stories, our voices. Knowing that thousands of other Freedom School youth around the country were marching for social justice, made me feel very powerful. Spiritually, culturally and socially we are the same people fighting for the same freedoms. . . . Now I see injustices and have a platform to call them out. Growing up in my culture and as a Muslim woman I have experienced injustices, but I never really had the audacity to speak out.