The CDF Freedom Schools program is proudly rooted in the American Civil Rights Movement and the courageous efforts of college age youth to make a difference.
The “Mississippi Freedom Summer Project” of 1964 was organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO), two leading Civil Rights organizations. The Freedom Summer Project was a major political action program designed to engage White and Black students and community volunteers in a variety of strategic activities to ensure basic citizenship rights for all Mississippians, most importantly the right to vote.
The Freedom Summer Project of 1964 activities included many activities including modeling
for Mississippi children their responsibility to become a force for change in their state and
nation through Freedom Schools. These Freedom Schools provided reading instruction; a
humanities curriculum emphasizing English, foreign languages, art, creative writing; and a
general mathematics and science curriculum. These schools were structured to motivate
young people to become engaged in their communities and to help them identify and design
authentic solutions to local problems.
The Freedom Schools movement was reborn under the leadership of Marian Wright Edelman and the Children’s Defense Fund’s Black Community Crusade for Children® (BCCC®) campaign. The goal was to advance a transforming vision of education for all children through the CDF Freedom Schools program.
In 1995, the first two official CDF Freedom Schools sites opened their doors, serving children in Bennettsville, SC and Kansas City, MO. With an increased focus on literacy, parent involvement, conflict resolution, and social action, the CDF Freedom Schools program utilizes an award-winning integrated reading curriculum and develops engaging lesson plans and hands-on activities to accompany it.
In 2014, CDF Freedom Schools sponsor partners served over 12,700 children in 107 cities and 28 states and Washington, D.C. Since 1995, over 125,000 children and families were touched by the CDF Freedom Schools program experience, including those at Park’s site.
For a full history of Freedom School and also Children’s Defense Fund, please visit: