Since 2011 children have been coming to the Connexion Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School® program in Somerville, Massachusetts. The children (we call them scholars) are at-risk for summer learning loss because of a lack of free, high-quality summer enrichment programming. For six weeks scholars discover they can make a difference in themselves, their families, their communities, their country, and their world through hope, education and action at no charge.

Freedom School creates academic success by reducing summer learning loss

In 2013 94.1% of the Freedom School scholars in Somerville maintained or gained a reading level. On average these scholars improved their reading level by 1 year and 3 months. Unfortunately national research shows that, on average, children lose 2 – 3 months of reading level over the summer.

Freedom School creates social impact and social justice

“About two-thirds of the 9th grade achievement gap between lower and higher income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during the elementary school years. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college.” (Alexander et al. 2007). Providing high-quality summer enrichment is leveling the playing field for our low-income scholars.

Freedom School helps parents become better advocates

Freedom School parents attend weekly parent meetings with topics from budgeting to drug awareness to advocating for a child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) advocacy.

Freedom School creates community and a sense of hope

Freedom School goes beyond academics to create a sense of community and hope in transformational ways. Each day begins with Harambee (Kiswahili for “Let’s Pull Together.”). It’s our high-energy, fun, way of building community as we learn and grow.

A typical day at Freedom School

8:00 AM Healthy Breakfast

8:30 AM Harambee!

A great time of singing and dancing culminating with the motivational song, “Something Inside So Strong”

9:00 AM Integrated Reading Curriculum

10:30 AM Healthy Snack & Break

10:45 AM Integrated Reading Curriculum

11:45 AM Drop Everything & Read Time

12:00 PM Healthy Lunch

12:30 PM Recess

1:00 PM Afternoon Activities

Everything from yoga to poetry to Afro-Caribbean drumming to electrical circuits

3:00 PM Dismissal