October 27, 2011

For More Information Contact:
Patti Hassler
(202) 662-3554

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), announced the Kansas City Freedom School Initiative (KCFSI) will receive the first $50,000 CDF Freedom Schools® Challenge Grant, for the purpose of providing more support to Kansas City’s eight CDF Freedom Schools summer programs. The CDF Freedom Schools Challenge Grant will match every dollar raised by KCFSI—up to $50,000—in its 2012 fund appeal.

“The Kansas City model has been and continues to be a leader in the CDF Freedom Schools family,” said Marian Wright Edelman. “We are grateful and proud of our partnership with Kansas City stalwart, Dwayne Crompton, who has advised us on national programming initiatives and led innovative and creative program development in the Greater Kansas City area including forging a partnership with the highly touted Kauffman Foundation. Last year, Kansas City Freedom Schools introduced the Saturday Leadership Academy which we hope to replicate nationwide. With this CDF Freedom Schools Challenge Grant, we are recognizing the impact of the Kansas City model on children and hoping to stimulate more economic support for these critically needed programs from the local community.”

Since KCFSI’s inception in 1995, over 15,000 children and youth in the Greater Kansas City area have been served. The goal of the CDF Freedom Schools program, a summer and after-school literacy program developed by the Children’s Defense Fund, is to help children fall in love with reading and boost their motivation to achieve. Children are taught using a research-based multicultural curriculum that supports children and families around five components: high quality academic enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational leadership development; and physical and mental health. Additionally, CDF Freedom Schools programs help connect the needs of children and families to the resources in their communities.

Currently, the KCFSI also is offering the Saturday Leadership Academy which includes three core components: Literacy, Leadership, and College Preparation. The Academy features the CDF Freedom Schoolsaward-winning Integrated Reading Curriculum and a leadership course developed from the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey of the Franklin-Covey Institute.

In 2004, CDF Freedom Schools received the first Excellence in Summer Learning Award presented by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Summer Learning. The award recognizes individuals and organizations working to improve the quality and availability of summer learning opportunities for children and youth.

A 2010 evaluation to determine the program’s impact on the reading ability of students enrolled in the CDF Freedom Schools programs in Charlotte, N.C., conducted by the Center for Adolescent Literacies at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, confirmed the program staunches summer learning loss and benefits children by helping them maintain or improve their reading ability.

While meeting with CDF earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan praised the CDF Freedom Schools program for improving child literacy, providing positive role models through mentoring from college students, and creating a pipeline to increase the number of Black and Latino men into the classroom.

Secretary Duncan said, “I’ve been to hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of schools around the country and I will tell you my visits to Freedom Schools have been amongst my most inspiring and the most memorable. When I see success, I just want more students to have those kinds of opportunities and what I consistently see there is remarkable for children.”

The CDF Freedom Schools program is modeled after the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of 1964, when the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) began teaching children and youth as part of the movement for civil rights and voter registration. As part of the Freedom Summer initiative, activists created 30 “Freedom Schools” in Mississippi, taught by college students and using a curriculum focused on reading, arithmetic, Black history and the philosophy of social change.

Edelman concluded, “Freedom Schools are proudly rooted in the American Civil Rights Movement and the courageous efforts of college youth to make a difference.” Since 1995, 90,000 K-12 children have experienced CDF Freedom Schools and more than 12,000 college students and young adult staff have been trained to deliver this empowering model.

For more information about the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program, contact Dr. Jeanne Middleton Hairston, National Director at 202.662.3546 or visit the CDF Freedom Schools website. For information on the Kansas City Freedom Schools Initiative, please contact Rev. Darren Faulkner, Program Director at 816.241.4573 Ext. 18 or visit the Kansas City Freedom Schools Initiative website.