Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® Sites Across California Launch For Summer

For Immediate Release
June 19, 2014
For More Information Contact:
Hanif Houston, (510) 684-0322,

Los Angeles, CA - The Children’s Defense Fund – California today announced the statewide launch of the CDF Freedom Schools program, a six-week summer literacy and enrichment program that helps children and youth fall in love with reading, build self-esteem, and develop positive attitudes towards learning. More than 1,000 children and youth will be served at 27 CDF Freedom Schools sites in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, Bakersfield, and San Diego.

“The greatest threat to America’s economic and military security comes from no foreign enemy but from our own failure to invest in healthy and educated children,” said Marian Wright Edelman.  ”In the CDF Freedom Schools program children learn to fall in love with reading and are engaged in activities that develop their minds and bodies and nurture their spirits.  The children are encouraged to dream about college and set goals for themselves, and for many of them, the program is a life-changing experience.  We are forging a new vision for what can be done with and for our children.”

At CDF Freedom Schools, children are taught using a curriculum focused on high-quality academic enrichment, parent and family involvement, social action and civic engagement, intergenerational leadership, and nutrition and mental health. Every morning opens with Harambee, a 30-minute activity in which children, staff, parents, and community members gather to celebrate themselves and each other through guest readers, motivational songs, and cheers and chants. Next, highly trained college students and recent graduates lead the children through an Integrated Reading Curriculum that uses literature, group discussions, and art to strengthen students’ sense of self-worth and empower them to make a difference in themselves and in their families, schools, communities, and nation. In the afternoon, children participate in music, dance, field trips, and other culturally enriching activities that further reinforce the connection between literacy, community engagement, and civic engagement.

“The Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools ensure that children, regardless of race or ethnicity, socioeconomic status or gender have a healthy and fun place to learn over the summer,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “We are especially pleased to see that five of our probation camps will now have a Freedom Schools program. This program changes the way children learn and read. I’ve seen the excitement, the enthusiasm and the results over the years – that’s why this has been an annual event in the Second District. I applaud my friend Marian Wright Edelman for her work in creating this program that plants the seeds for a positive future for our children, giving them what I hope will be a life-long love of reading.”

CDF Freedom Schools are making an impact in the lives of children by helping to stop summer learning loss and close achievement gaps. In 2012, according to a four-year study of the CDF Freedom Schools program by the Center for Adolescent Literacies at UNC Charlotte 90% of children showed no reading loss, and 63% of children actually improved their reading skills. In 2011, the Harvard Family Research Project reported that the CDF Freedom Schools program was among the nation’s most innovative programs having “…demonstrated success in providing quality learning opportunities for youth.”

CDF Freedom Schools programs sites in California are supported through partnerships with community-based organizations, faith institutions, schools, universities, and juvenile probation camps. These organizations include: Agape International Spiritual Center, Community Coalition, LightWave Education, Lincoln Child Center, Miguel Contreras Foundation, Mt. Erie Christian Academy, Read Lead, Roberts Family Development Center, Stephen S. Wise Temple, Success in Challenges, Inc., Youth Policy Institute, and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Additionally, Katie McGrath & J.J. Abrams Family Foundation, the Wasserman Foundation and the Los Angeles District 2 Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas currently support a network of sites within the Greater Los Angeles area.

Media and community members are invited to visit a CDF Freedom Schools site. Please contact Hanif Houston at 510-684-0322 or For more information on the CDF Freedom Schools program and to see current site locations, visit