The CDF Freedom Schools® Model
Through the CDF Freedom Schools model, we empower youth to excel and believe in their ability to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, country and world with hope, education and action.
Rooted in the Mississippi Freedom Summer project of 1964, the CDF Freedom Schools program is a six-week summer literacy and cultural enrichment program designed to serve children and youth in grades K–12 in communities where quality academic enrichment programming is limited, too expensive, or non-existent. By partnering with schools, faith and community-based organizations, municipalities, colleges and universities, and juvenile detention facilities, we are able to offer this program in these communities at no-cost.
The CDF Freedom Schools program enhances children’s motivation to read and makes them feel good about learning. At the same time, the program connects families to the right resources in their communities. Freedom School students engage in a research-based, multicultural Integrated Reading Curriculum that supports them and their families through five essential components:
- High quality academic enrichment
- Parent and family development
- Civic engagement and social action
- Intergenerational servant leadership development
- Nutrition, health and mental health
Students also receive two nutritious meals and a snack daily, as well as a book each week to build their home libraries.
We believe in an intergenerational leadership model. That’s why our program is staffed primarily by college students and recent college graduates, with a 10:1 child to adult ratio. As a result, many children and youth make significant gains in reading achievement and don’t experience any summer learning loss.
Our Impact Nationally
Since 1995, more than 150,000 children (K–12) have had the CDF Freedom Schools® experience, and more than 17,000 young adults and child advocates have been trained on the delivery of the CDF Freedom Schools model, which has expanded to 182 program sites nation-wide.
2017 Data: Children Served by State
2017 Data: Children Served by Race/Ethnicity
The CDF Freedom Schools® program has made a statistically-significant and practically-significant positive impact on students in several ways. In 2017, almost all students either improved (56.2 percent) or maintained (27.8 percent) their reading skills over the course of the six-week program, and avoided the two-month summer learning loss suffered by children not participating in summer enrichment. Students reading below grade level at the beginning of the summer experienced the greatest gains.