365 Days of Impact: How you’re helping children reach their full potential

365 Days of Impact: How you’re helping children reach their full potential2021-01-29T14:03:40-05:00

In 2020, a brand-new virus and a 400-year-old disease ravaged the most marginalized families and communities in the United States. While Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities disproportionately suffered the health and economic impacts of the novel coronavirus, an 8 minute and 46 second video of the final, brutal minutes of George Floyd’s life reminded us that deeply rooted racism impacts the lives of Black children and adults every day. 

With your critical support, the Children’s Defense Fund fought all year against these twin crises, through direct service programs, organizing in communities around the country, and policy advocacy at the national and state level.

Thank you for making our work this year possible.

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CDF Beat the Odds® honoree Israel Glenn

80,000 child advocates signed a petition championed by CDF Beat the Odds® honoree Israel Glenn that resulted in the first question about child poverty being asked at a presidential debate in 20 years.

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Photo credit Mallory Cash, Ed NC

77 percent of CDF Freedom Schools® scholars maintained or improved their reading skills during a summer when children were at even higher-than-normal risk of summer reading loss—known as the “summer slide.”

We came here for a better life. We thought that would be good. We got put down, we got picked back up again. And now...COVID-19 put us back down again.

Gabrielle Brown, Servant Leader Intern, Central Gulf Coast’s Global CDF Freedom Schools site

 Responding to COVID-19

Children need stable homes, quality health care, ample nutritious food, excellent schools, safe neighborhoods, and access to resources and opportunities that enable them to reach their full potential. We fought tirelessly this year to ensure immediate and urgent relief for families reeling from the pandemic and pushed to end poverty and abolish systemic barriers that held Black children and other children of color back long before the pandemic hit.

With your help, we:

  • Urged Congress to address the unique needs of children in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis in a series of policy briefs and by partnering with members of Congress championing specific legislative responses.
  • Led over a dozen organizations in a two-week-long social media blitz calling on Congress to enact relief for the most vulnerable children and families. This effort called attention to urgent needs including cash assistance, health care, child care, nutrition, housing, education, and child welfare and reached more than 3 million people.
  • Led nearly 600 national, state, and local organizations in efforts to support children and families in the child welfare system to weather COVID-19.
  • Ramped up our public education and outreach efforts to make sure families know how to access life-saving resources.
  • Adapted our community-based programs, like CDF Freedom Schools, to leverage virtual learning opportunities that allowed us to continue providing essential education and enrichment for children across the country—meeting children where they were, when they needed support the most.
  • Laid the groundwork for “building back a better normal,” recognizing that for the most vulnerable children and families, returning to a pre-COVID-19 status quo will not be good enough.
We came here for a better life. We thought that would be good. We got put down, we got picked back up again. And now...COVID-19 put us back down again.

James Hook, Spokane, WA (The Spokesman-Review, May 9, 2020)

 
 
 
 
 

We created the Children in Crisis Fund to urgently meet the needs of children during and beyond this pandemic. As we enter a new year, this work remains as vital as ever. Please donate to the Children in Crisis Fund today.

 
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 Our fight for racial justice

Born out of the Civil Rights Movement, the Children’s Defense Fund has led the fight for justice for children, with a special focus on Black children, for nearly 50 years. We remain committed to uplifting Black communities and fighting structural racism.

This year, as calls for racial justice rang out across the country, we:

  • Ensured that we could continue to provide high-quality, culturally responsive academic enrichment through our CDF Freedom Schools program for children across the country, 74 percent of whom are Black.
  • Equipped the next generation of children’s advocates of color who are pushing our nation to fulfill its promise of equality.
  • Drew attention to the impact of police brutality and racial injustice on the children of America.
  • Advocated for strong social policies that can combat historic racial injustices, such as fair housing practices, child allowances, and expanded nutrition assistance.
  • Encouraged voters to amplify the voices of children—particularly Black children and children from other marginalized communities—at the polls with comprehensive voter resources and voter registration efforts.
The recent atrocities in our country highlight the need for CDF Freedom Schools more than ever. The program is an incredible combination of impressive academic achievement, while also giving students voice and agency.

Emily Uhlhorn, Mill Valley (CA) School District trustee

 Our continuing commitment to CDF Freedom Schools®

COVID-19 and the nationwide lockdown that followed presented an unprecedented threat to children’s ability to learn. This was especially true for children from low-income families and children who attend under-resourced schools, who tend to be children of color. This meant that in 2020, bringing our CDF Freedom Schools program to children across the country was more important than ever–but the logistics of delivering this highly interactive program presented a monumental challenge.

With your help and the tireless work of our partners, we were able to pivot quickly to:

  • Deliver the CDF Freedom Schools program to 2,535 scholars at 66 sites.
  • Train hundreds of college-aged young people in an intergenerational model of leadership.
  • Serve CDF Freedom Schools scholars in 34 cities and 15 states across the country, in settings as diverse as community centers, churches, college campuses, homeless shelters, and juvenile detention centers.
  • Ensure that family engagement remained a critical element of CDF Freedom Schools scholars’ achievement this summer, even when that meant using platforms like Zoom, social media, and text messaging to make meaningful connections with families.
  • Operate year-round CDF Freedom Schools sites in Washington, D.C.—where we were able to provide 25 laptops to families, thanks to a generous gift from Freddie Mac—and Marlboro County, S.C.
  • Engage the CDF Freedom Schools community in our annual National Day of Social Action focused on the need to vote on behalf of children and adjusted so that children and their families could participate virtually. The culminating event, a live virtual rally, lifted up the voices of CDF Freedom Schools scholars and featured three incredible young people who told the thousands of people watching why they should vote on behalf of children.
  • Partner with Michelle Obama’s organization, When We All Vote, to train 600 young people to get out the vote in their communities.
  • Encouraged voters to amplify the voices of children—particularly Black children and children from other marginalized communities—at the polls with comprehensive voter resources and voter registration efforts.
 
 
 
 
 

We created the Children in Crisis Fund to urgently meet the needs of children during and beyond this pandemic. As we enter a new year, this work remains as vital as ever. Please donate to the Children in Crisis Fund today.

 
Donate Now