Freedom School Opens in Detroit’s HOPE Village

 (DETROIT) – On June 20, HOPE Village Freedom School opened its doors to 50 early elementary students – an exciting opportunity providing a new, research-based reading enrichment approach for Detroit children. The school is part of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® program. CDF Freedom Schools® is a national movement that served over 12,000 children across the country in the summer of 2015. Participants in the program increased their reading ability by an average of 10 months, nearly a full grade level, over the course of the six-week program.

“This is an impressive figure for a program that lasts less than two months, particularly when contrasted with the summer reading loss that frequently occurs in children from low-income homes,” said Dr. Nell K. Duke, Professor of Literacy, Language, and Culture at the University of Michigan. “It is exciting to see such an educational and engaging use of summer time in communities where access to high quality summer enrichment activities may be limited."

A $10,000 Youth Leadership grant from The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM), a partnership with the University of Michigan and support from E.A. Baergen, Cornell University, The Skillman Foundation, Children's Defense Fund, U.A.W. Local 2280 and more made it possible for Focus: HOPE to bring the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® program to HOPE Village.

CFSEM is a full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations, the Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefitting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development and civic affairs. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed nearly $843 million through more than 57,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair and Livingston counties. For more information, visit www.cfsem.org. 

This summer’s Freedom School is part of the HOPE Village Initiative - a long-term partnership of Focus: HOPE, designed to radically change the odds of success for children and families in the neighborhoods immediately surrounding Focus: HOPE's campus. The HOPE Village Initiative’s mission is by 2031, 100 percent of residents living in HOPE Village will be educationally well prepared, economically self-sufficient, and living in a safe and supportive environment. To ensure the success of this effort, HOPE Village Freedom School is committed to providing summer programming, which it aims to grow into a pipeline of success for children in grades K-12.

The CDF Freedom Schools® program utilizes an engaging, culturally relevant literacy curriculum led by inspirational, young Servant Leader Interns, as well as diverse afternoon activities that expose children to STEM and the arts. 

“The CDF Freedom Schools® has the power to transform communities,” said Dr. Stephanie Moore Project Lead for the HOPE Village Freedom School. “The program affirms students’ identities and empowers them to make a difference in their community, as well as cultivating a network of positive supports.  Through their experiences with CDF Freedom Schools®, Servant Leader Interns are more likely to pursue careers as educators and families gain community and resources through weekly engagement events.”

Claricha Evans, a member of the Children’s Defense Fund’s national training staff and a Detroit native, will serve as Project Director for the HOPE Village Freedom School.  “I started my journey with CDF Freedom Schools as a Servant Leader Intern in 2011 and it changed my life,” she says.  “I was excited when I heard Focus: HOPE was having a site because I remember coming to Focus: HOPE to receive food monthly with my granny.  My granny passed away at the beginning of April, so this year is especially significant as I honor her by serving on the other side of the service table.”

For more information, visit http://www.childrensdefense.org/programs/freedomschools or contact Stephanie Moore (313-494-4392, stephanie.moore@focushope.edu) or Claricha Evans (313-494-4593, claricha.evans@focushope.edu). 
 
Freedom School