CDF Freedom Schools(r) Program

The CDF Freedom Schools® program seeks to build strong, literate, and empowered children prepared to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, nation and world today. 

By providing summer and after-school reading enrichment for children who might otherwise not have access to books, the CDF Freedom Schools program plays a much needed role in helping to curb summer learning loss and close achievement gaps – and is a key part of CDF’s work to ensure a level playing field for all children. 

In partnership with local congregations, schools, colleges and universities, community organizations, and secure juvenile justice facilities the CDF Freedom Schools program boosts student motivation to read, generates more positive attitudes toward learning, increases self-esteem and connects the needs of children and families to the resources of their communities. 

Since 1995, more than 125,000 preK-12 children have had a CDF Freedom Schools experience and more than 15,000 college students and recent graduates have been trained by CDF to deliver this empowering model.

The CDF Freedom Schools model incorporates the totality of the Children's Defense Fund's mission by fostering environments that support children and young adults to excel and believe in their ability to make a difference Site coordinators and project directors are also trained by CDF to provide supervision and administrative oversight.

The program provides an exciting Integrated Reading Curriculum (IRC) including carefully chosen developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant books. The model curriculum supports children and families around five essential components:

        High Quality Academic Enrichment

        Parent and Family Involvement

        Social Action and Civic Engagement

        Inter-generational Servant Leadership Development

        Nutrition, Physical Health, Mental Health


CDF Freedom Schools overview - Video