CDF Freedom Schools® Program

The CDF Freedom Schools® program is a research based and multicultural summer enrichment opportunity that helps children and youth fall in love with reading, boost self-esteem, and generate more positive attitudes toward learning. We partner with families, caring community leaders, and credible organizations throughout California to create a safe nurturing learning environment that encourages children and teens to believe in their ability to make a difference in themselves and in their families, schools, communities, country, and world with hope, education and action. Since 1995, more than 137,000 preK-12 children have had a CDF Freedom Schools experience and more than 16,000 college students and young adult staff have been trained by CDF to deliver this empowering model. In summer 2015, CDF Freedom Schools sponsor partners served over 12,375 children at 189 program sites in 96 cities and 29 states including Washington, D.C.

About the Program

CDF Freedom Schools sites use a research-based and multicultural curriculum that centers on five essential components: high-quality academic enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational leadership development; and nutrition, health and mental health. Our instructional approach has been recognized as a model strategy to effectively engage children and young adults around literature and reading.

Making a Difference

The CDF Freedom Schools “I Can Make a Difference” theme lets children know that they are not citizens in waiting but agents of change. Children are empowered to serve and make a difference in themselves, their families, schools, and communities with education and action. We train college students and recent graduates as Servant Leader Interns to deliver the Integrated Reading Curriculum, a dynamic educational methodology that aligns with the Common Core State State Standards and and includes science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM education) activities.

Making an Impact

Research has shown that the CDF Freedom Schools program is making an impact in the lives of children and families across the country. In 2012, a four-year study of children enrolled at Charlotte CDF Freedom Schools sites conducted by the University of North Carolina, Charlotte found that over 90 percent of participating children showed no summer learning loss, and 63 percent showed gains in reading. In 2011, the Harvard Family Research Project released a report called “Year-Round Learning: Linking School, Afterschool, and Summer Learning to Support Student Success.” The CDF Freedom Schools program was one of the 14 innovative national programs highlighted in the report as having “demonstrated success in providing quality learning opportunities for youth.” In 2004, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Summer Learning honored the program with the nation’s first Excellence in Summer Learning Award.

Making History

The CDF Freedom Schools program is rooted in the Civil Rights Movement, the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964, and the courageous efforts of college age youth to make a difference. The program was reborn in 1992 under the leadership of Marian Wright Edelman and the Children’s Defense Fund as an intergenerational effort to reweave the fabric of families and communities and create a new generation of servant leaders to prepare children for school and for life.

Read more about the CDF Freedom Schools program

Enroll Your Child

This summer, we will be hosting CDF Freedom Schools sites in cities all across California. If you are interested in enrolling your child, contact a sponsor organization from the list below.

Community Coalition for Substance Abuse

University of Southern California
Los Angeles CA
(323) 240-4137

First New Christian Fellowship Community Development Corporation

First New Christian Fellowship Baptist Church
1556 West 108th Street
Los Angeles CA 90047
(323) 842-7990

Lincoln Child Center

West Oakland Middle School
991 14th Street
Oakland CA 94607
(510) 928-4656

Roots International Academy
1390 66th Avenue
Oakland CA 94621
(510) 928-4656

Claremont Middle School
5750 College Avenue
Oakland CA 94618
(510) 867-5265

Camp Wilmont Sweeney
2600 Fairmont Dr
San Leandro CA 94578
(510) 867-5265

Los Angeles County Office of Education

Afflerbaugh-Paige School
6621 Stephens Ranch Road
La Verne, CA 91750
(626) 893-48008

Kenyon Scudder Camp School
28750 Bouquet Canyon Rd
Santa Clarita CA 91390
(661) 993-6511

Joseph Scott Camp School
28700 N. Bouquet Canyon Road
Saugus CA, 91390
(661) 993-6511

Read Lead

Compton Community College/Hellen Keller Community Center
600 N. Alameda Ave.
Compton CA 90220
(562) 612-6361

Fremont High School
7676 S San Pedro St
Los Angeles CA 90003
(562) 612-6361

Holman United Methodist Church
3320 W. Adams
Los Angeles CA 90018
(562) 612-6361

Helen Keller Elementary School
35121 Palm Avenue
Lynwood CA 90262
(562) 612-6361

Girls Club Los Angeles
2057 W. Century
Los Angeles CA 90047

Roberts Family Development Center

Robla Elementary School
5200 Marysville Blvd.
Sacramento CA 95838
(916) 621-7555

Laetaata Floyd Elementary School
104 McClatchy Way
Sacramento CA 95811
(209) 818-1371

Cesar Chavez Elementary School
7500 32nd St.
Sacramento CA 95822
(916) 807-9615

Rio Tierra Junior High School
3201 Northstead Dr.
Sacramento CA 95815
(916) 704-5096

Twin Rivers Housing Complex
Sacramento CA
(650) 995-0300

Hazel Strach Elementary School
3141 Northstead Dr.
Sacramento CA 95833
Derell Roberts, Gregg Grimes
(916) 628-2966

Stephen S. Wise Temple

Milken Community Middle School
15900 Mulholland Drive
Los Angeles CA 90049

American Jewish University
15600 Mulholland Drive
Los Angeles CA 90077

Stephen S. Wise Temple
15500 Stephen S. Wise Drive
Los Angeles CA 90077

Success in Challenges Inc.

North Long Beach Christian Church
1115 E. Market Street
Long Beach CA 90805

Third Baptist Church of San Francisco

Rosa Parks Elementary
San Francisco CA
(775) 572-8679

Focus on Family Foundation

Phoenix Park Resident Activity Center
4400 Shining Star Dr
Sacramento CA 95823
(916) 807-6850

Pasadena unified School District

Altadena Elementary School
743 E. Calaveras St.
Altadena CA 91001