Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Program Sites Across California Launch for Summer

Summer literacy program will serve approximately 1,500 California children and youth K-12

For Immediate Release

Los Angeles, CA – The Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools program kicks off this month in communities across the country, including 20 sites in California from Sacramento to Oakland to Los Angeles. CDF Freedom Schools sites are child-centered summer enrichment programs that aim to build strong, literate and confident children inspired to make a difference in themselves, their families and communities.

In partnership with community-based organizations, faith institutions, schools, universities, and juvenile probation camps, the CDF Freedom Schools program boosts student capacity and motivation to read, and connects the needs of children and families to resources in their communities. Studies have shown that participating students improve reading skills and demonstrate positive character development.

"The CDF Freedom Schools program stops summer learning loss by helping children fall in love with reading and supports them to make a difference in themselves and in their families, schools, communities, country and world," said Shimica Gaskins, executive director of Children's Defense Fund-California. "Our CDF Freedom Schools sites are key to empowering children and families to advocate for social justice through multicultural literacy."

The CDF Freedom Schools program day opens with Harambee (Swahili for 'let's pull together'), an energetic time when the children, staff, and community come together to celebrate themselves and each other through guest readers, motivational songs, cheers and chants. Following Harambee, highly trained college students and recent graduates lead the scholars in a research-based and multicultural curriculum focused on literacy, critical thinking, building self-esteem and social action. Afternoons are often filled with music, dance, field trips or social action projects. Weekly parent meetings aim to increase capacity of families to support their children's education.

A 2016 national assessment of 99 program sites in 26 states, including California, found most students (82.4 percent) maintained or gained in instructional reading and did not experience summer reading loss. In the evaluative survey portion of the assessment, 80 percent of parents found positive changes in their children, including confidence in reading, knowledge about their culture and social problem solving skills.

Below is a list of the 2017 CDF Freedom Schools California sponsoring organizations the cities where sites are located

  • Community Coalition – Los Angeles
  • Los Angeles County Office of Education (2 sites) – La Verne and Santa Clarita
  • Read Lead (4 sites) – Los Angeles, Inglewood and Lynwood
  • Success In Challenges, Inc. – Long Beach
  • Pasadena Unified School District – Altadena
  • Roberts Family Development Center (4 sites) – Sacramento
  • Hannah Project – Sausalito
  • Focus on Family Foundation (2 sites) – Sacramento
  • Lincoln Families (4 sites) – Oakland

Media and community members are invited to contact Cadonna Dory at or 213-355-8787 to visit a CDF Freedom Schools site in California or participate as a guest reader. For more information on the CDF Freedom Schools program, visit the Children's Defense Fund-California website at


The Children’s Defense Fund-California (CDF-CA) is a state office of the Children’s Defense Fund, a national child advocacy organization founded by Marian Wright Edelman that has worked relentlessly for over 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children. With offices in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and Long Beach, CDF-CA champions policies and programs that lift children out of poverty, ensure all children have access to health coverage and care and a quality education, and invest in our justice-involved youth.

Media Contact:

Cadonna Dory
Communications Manager
(213) 355–8790 (o), (323) 385–6342 (c)