Rooted in the Mississippi Freedom Summer project of 1964, the CDF Freedom Schools program offers engagement through both a six-week summer and after-school literacy and cultural enrichment program designed to serve children and youth in grades K–12 in communities where quality academic enrichment programming is limited, too expensive, or non-existent. By partnering with schools, faith and community-based organizations, municipalities, colleges and universities, and juvenile detention facilities, we are able to offer this program in these communities at no-cost.

The CDF Freedom Schools program enhances children’s motivation to read and makes them feel good about learning. At the same time, the program connects families to the right resources in their communities. CDF Freedom Schools school-aged scholars engage in a research-based, multicultural Integrated Reading Curriculum that supports them and their families through five essential components:

  • – High quality academic enrichment
  • – Parent and family development
  • – Civic engagement and social action
  • – Intergenerational servant leadership development
  • – Nutrition, health, and mental health
  • – Students also receive two nutritious meals and a snack daily, as well as a book each week to build their home libraries.

We believe in an intergenerational leadership model. That’s why our program is staffed primarily by college students and recent college graduates, with a 10:1 child to adult ratio. As a result, many children and youth make significant gains in reading achievement and don’t experience any summer learning loss.

The Program is free to participants.
– Dates of Program: June 26-August 4

– Who will the Freedom School serve? We will enroll 50 scholars, primarily from Fayetteville Street Elementary School and Hope Valley Elementary School. Students from other schools may apply and be placed on a waitlist.

– In addition to the CDF Freedom Schools curriculum in the mornings, we will have STEM activities, art and cultural resources, weekly field trips, and healthy meals and snacks served daily

– 50 scholars will be enrolled

– There are scheduled Open House sessions that parents and families must attend to complete an application.

– If you are a college student or recent graduate and are interested in being a Servant Leader Intern, please contact Denise Rowson at to receive an application. Applications are due February 9th. 

– We are raising funds to make this program possible. If you would like to support, you can give online here and specify “Freedom School,” or write a check to DurhamCares, put “Freedom School” on the memo line, and send to PO Box 331, Durham, NC 27702. If you are interested in supporting or being involved in other ways, please send an email to for questions and to tell us how you would like to support the program.


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