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April 13, 2016
Faculty at the state capital’s two public universities are collaborating in a rare effort to launch an academic enrichment program for local, low-income children this summer. Florida State University and Florida A&M University faculty will operate the program, a local iteration of a model that has been replicated nationally under the supervision of the Children’s Defense Fund. While North Florida Freedom Schools will be one of more than 200 similar programs nationally, it’s unusual in that few are sponsored by higher education institutions or run by faculty members. Keely Smith, a Leon County middle school special education teacher, FSU alumna and co-executive director of the non-profit North Florida Freedom Schools, said she believed the only way for the program to be successful was if local higher education institutions got involved. So she connected with local faculty members and sought their help. Jalaya Lyles Dunn, the national director of operations for the Children’s Defense Fund's freedom schools, said she hopes to see more universities and higher education faculty launch programs like the one in Tallahassee.
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