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For Immediate Release
September 30, 2013
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Washington, DC -The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) celebrated forty years of changing the odds for children and honored Former Secretary of State and CDF alumna Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday, September 30, 2013. Secretary Clinton was recognized for her dedication and contributions to child advocacy.
“CDF is pleased to recognize Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been a tireless voice for children. She’s brilliant. She cares deeply about children. She perseveres. She’s an incredibly hard worker, and she stays with it. She’s done extraordinarily well in everything she’s ever done. and I’m just so proud of her,” said Marian Wright Edelman, President of the Children’s Defense Fund.
In a video tribute Clinton, said “It’s the mission that CDF has stood for that I’m proud that I was a small part of promoting…We worked hard in the White House. We certainly appreciated the efforts of organizations like CDF kind of, you know, charging ahead.”
Hillary Rodham Clinton was with CDF from the beginning. Rodham joined CDF as a young staff attorney right out of law school and knocked on doors to research and help prepare CDF’s first landmark report, Children Out of School in America – a major catalyst for the enactment of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, now the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. She became a CDF board member and ultimately board chair until she became First Lady.
President and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc., Geoffrey Canada co-hosted the event with CDF Beat the Odds® scholarship program alumna, Sheehan Whelan. Canada talked about coming up with the idea for the Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc. while at the CDF Haley Farm for a meeting of CDF’s Black Community Crusade for Children (BCCC). Canada was joined on stage by CEO of PolicyLink, Angela Glover Blackwell in speaking about the impact of the Children’s Defense Fund and the BCCC. Both Glover Blackwell and Canada serve on CDF’s Board of Directors,
The Children’s Defense Fund has worked relentlessly over the past forty years to create a level playing field for all children. CDF’s work has helped millions of children escape poverty and receive needed heath care, nutrition, Head Start and Early Head Start, child care, education, special education, family support services, adoption and guardianship assistance, and helped ensure protections for children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and protection from gun violence.
“I am proud of the some thirty pieces of legislation on the books in part because of the work of the Children’s Defense Fund. I am also proud of all the budget cuts that did not happen because of our vigilance and coalition work. We have worked hard over the last forty years to help build a national house, where every child is healthy, safe and educated, room by room,” Edelman said.
Speaking at the anniversary celebration were young leaders and alums of CDF’s Freedom Schools®, Beat the Odds® scholarship program, and Young Advocate Leadership Training (YALT®) program who are making a difference in the lives of countless children across our nation. CDF’s on-the-ground education, youth development, training and leadership programs have touched the lives of more than 125,000 children and young adults and helped more than 800 low-income high school students go to college to realize their dreams.
CDF Beat the Odds® scholarship program alumna and event co-host, Sheehan Whelan, whose mother tried to sell her for drugs when she was a baby and later died of a drug overdose, is pursuing a career in international public service. She is interning this fall at the U.S. Department of State, working for the undersecretary of civilian security and democracy.
Performing at the event were twelve-year-old cellist Malik Kofi and his world-renowned mentor, cellist Udi Bar-David, tap sensations the Manzari Brothers,and the Washington Performing Arts Society Children of the Gospel Choir. Singer Annisse Murillo closed the event with “What About the Children.”