CDF-Freedom Schools ®
The CDF Freedom Schools model supports children and families around five essential components: high quality academic enrichment, parent/family involvement, social action/civic engagement, intergenerational leadership development, and physical/mental health; all of which mirror RFDC’s mission and goals. The model fosters supportive environments where children and young adults believe in their ability to make a difference in themselves, their families, schools, communities, nation, and world. Freedom Schools program sites are safe and nurturing learning spaces where children are valued and celebrated, where strengths and abilities are recognized and appreciated, where children are encouraged to set high expectations and develop self-discipline, where there is an abundance of enthusiasm for learning, where children learn to understand themselves and connect to their culture, and where parents and community members are engaged in the success of children and families. The Program boosts student motivation to read, generates a positive attitude towards learning, and connects the needs of children and families to the resources of their communities.
A Day At CDF-Freedom Schools ®
Although Freedom School has a foundation in education and academics, it is unlike any school the children we serve have even attended. Freedom Schools acknowledges and uses the unique cultural dimensions of the scholars, families, and communities we serve. It considers the culture and language of scholars including slang and colloquialisms and uses these to empower students and build their knowledge through introduction of new ideas and skills. Freedom Schools values student voices and ideas and incorporates these into classroom instruction.
Freedom Schools is held Monday-Friday from 8am-3pm.
Harambee is a time when scholars and Servant Leader Interns (SLI) come together to celebrate themselves and each other. This high energy, exciting, and interactive opening activity has the highs, dips, twists, and turns of a rollercoaster. Harambee is infused with literacy and learning throughout, including listening skills, sequencing, spelling, and call and response. Harambee addresses the needs of all types of learners: audio, visual, and kinesthetic. Harambee has six components: Read Aloud, Motivational Song, Cheers & Chants, Recognitions, Moment of Silence, and Announcements. After Harambee, we move into the academic portion of the day; the Integrated Reading Curriculum.
Integrated Reading Curriculum
Freedom Schools believes that reading is key to unlocking children’s dreams and unlimited potential. Freedom Schools Integrated Reading Curriculum (IRC) is built on a foundation of books from the finest writers and illustrators in the US. These books are developmentally appropriate, culturally relevant, reflect children’s lives, and lend themselves to critical thinking and related creative activities. IRC focuses around the central theme of “I Can Make A Difference In My …” and has six weekly related topics: Self, Family, Community, Country, World, With Hope Education and Action. IRC is an activity oriented curriculum where books and activities are integrated into a holistic learning experience where students can better understand the real-life application of what they are learning. The goal of IRC is to help scholars fall in love with books and therefore with reading. In addition, Freedom Schools and the IRC plant the seed for a future force of multicultural and multiracial teachers who are inspired by Freedom Schools in their role as SLI’s and possibly even as scholars.
Afternoon activities allow scholars a time to participate in educationally and culturally enriching activities. RFDC uses service providers and the talents and interests of SLIs to develop engaging age-appropriate activities that appeal to the interests of our scholars. Activities may include art, STEM, sports, music, dance, poetry, drama, culture, history, games, social emotional learning groups, etc.
Freedom Schools social action projects are designed to show children, parents, staff, and community partners how they can make a difference. Projects vary depending on the age of scholars and relevant issues, but may include fighting child poverty, making food to feed the homeless, neighborhood cleanup, letters to government officials, donating blankets and handmade toys to the animal shelter, writing nursing home pen pals, etc. Scholars participate in afternoon social action activities 1-2 days weekly. Social Action activities are also included in daily Integrated Reading Curriculum. Freedom Schools scholars, parents, and staff are encouraged and empowered to continue their service and engagement beyond Freedom Schools.
The primary purpose of Freedom Schools field trips is exposure to new places, ideas, and experiences. Field trips include parks, museums, colleges, and more. Field trips are held at local (in Sacramento county) and distance (up to 2 hours away) locations. All field trips include interactive activities for the students to participate in to learn new skills, gain knowledge, and/or be exposed to new experiences.
Freedom Schools believes that parents are important partners in their children’s education. In Freedom Schools parents are invited to serve as read aloud guests, to assist in the classroom, to help with afternoon activities, to be on the playground with their scholars, to participate in mealtimes, to chaperone field trips, and to support their children’s social action projects. Parents are also strongly encouraged to participate in weekly educational workshops that empower parents and build family success. Workshops topics include child development, finances, parenting, community issues, etc. To decrease barriers to participation, RFDC provides childcare during the workshop and a family style meal following the workshops.
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FREEDOM SCHOOLS BENEFITS
• Close Achievement Gap
• Decrease Summer Learning Loss
• Cultivate Love of Reading & Learning
• Inspire Social Action
• Foster Appreciation of Self & Others Culture
• Provide Support
• Knowledge of Resources
• Inspire Community Engagement
SERVANT LEADER INTERNS (STAFF)
• Build Intergenerational Leadership
• Workforce Skill Development
• Inspire Civic Engagement
Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools ®
For 8 years, RFDC has served as a CDF Freedom Schools sponsor site in Sacramento. In 2021, we again hosted the single largest Freedom Schools site in the nation, serving 415 scholars. Freedom Schools provides a rich literacy-based learning experience that fosters an “I Can Make a Difference” attitude in the scholars we serve and the staff who facilitate. Freedom Schools uses an award-winning standards aligned Integrated Reading Curriculum to expose scholars to new concepts, ideas, and ways of looking at the world, while building their literacy, comprehension, and writing skills. Each day, Freedom Schools begins with Harambee, giving scholars the opportunity to celebrate themselves and each other while building community. Scholars then transition to Integrated Reading Curriculum, where they read specially selected books with diverse characters, that lend themselves to critical thinking and related creative activities. Scholars then participate in Afternoon Enrichments including STEM, arts, sports, life skills, cultural exploration, and more. Each week, scholars take part in social action activities and field trips that broaden their horizons and help them see the impact they have on the community and world around them. We are looking forward to bringing Freedom Schools back to Sacramento, serving 560 scholars in the summer of 2022. If you are interested in joining or supporting Freedom Schools as a funder, staff member, or scholar please contact us.