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

Lincoln Child Center

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

Manzanita Community School
2409 E 27th St
Oakland, CA 94601
(510) 535-2822

Claremont Middle School
5750 College Ave
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 Rd
La Verne, CA 91750
(626) 893-48008

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

Read Lead

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

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

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

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

Roberts Family Development Center

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

Martin Luther King Tech Academy
3051 Fairfield St
Sacramento CA, 95815
(916) 566-3490

H. Allen Hight Elementary
3200 N Park Dr
Sacramento CA, 95835
(916) 567-5700

Bell Avenue Elementary School
1900 Bell Ave
Sacramento CA, 95838
(916) 567-5700

Success in Challenges Inc.

North Long Beach Christian Church
1115 E. Market St
Long Beach CA, 90805

Focus on Family Foundation

Parkway Elementary School
4720 Forest Pkwy
Sacramento CA, 95823
(916) 433-5082

John H. Still Elem/Middle School
2250 John Still Dr
Sacramento CA, 95822
(916) 433-5191

Third Baptist Church of San Francisco

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

PasadenaLEARNs

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

Hannah Project


Sausalito CA, 94965

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