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1-408-806-9467

The Freedom School Story

The Children’s Defense Fund’s (CDF) Freedom Schools® program is a six-week long summer enrichment program with 3 hours of reading per day. The program helps children fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem, cultivates positive attitudes toward learning, and reduces summer reading loss—one of the major challenges affecting poor and working-class children. With the help of a researched-based curriculum that is based on culturally responsive books that reflect their own images and caring and supportive college students that serve as teachers, Freedom Schools successfully address summer reading loss and a related decrease in students’ motivation to read.

 

In addition to offering high-quality academic enrichment, CDF Freedom Schools supports children and families in the areas of parent and family involvement, civic engagement and social action, intergenerational leadership development, and health -- physical, mental, and nutritional. With the support of caring adults and communities we will aid our children’s successful journey into adulthood.

The scholars we serve at the CDF Freedom Schools are primarily children who are members of underserved families. Attending our school is FREE for all families and children 5-18 are eligible. We create a fun learning environment in every classroom where the child-to-teacher ratio is 10:1.

The teachers at Freedom Schools, our next generation of leaders, are college students and recent college graduates. We invest in them by providing them training at the annual Ella Baker Child Policy Training Institute that is held at the CDF Alex Haley Farm in Clinton, Tenn. and at facilities in Knoxville, Tenn. We call our teachers Servant Leader Interns (SLIs) and the knowledge and experience they receive at the Training Institute prepares them well to teach the program and advocate for children.

Our site in East Knoxville will host 60 scholars, 6 Servant Leader Interns, and a Site Coordinator. Our Blount County site will have the same number of scholars and staff. The site at Maynard Elementary will host 50 scholars, 5 Servant Leader Interns, and a Site Coordinator. One Project Director will be responsible for all three sites. Scholars will have two meals and one snack per day, one field trip per week, and a variety of afternoon activities including robotics, STEM, money management, debate, financial literacy, public speaking, physical fitness, and art.

Kiara & Scholar.HEIC
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Scholar Reading.HEIC
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Testimonials

SERVANT LEADER
INTERNS

SITE COORDINATORS

Kaitlyn
Sierra
Lexi

Our Staff

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Executive Director: 

Denise J. Dean is passionate about and committed to the betterment of children. She uses her corporate experience and elementary teacher experience in service to creating a high-quality educational and developmental experience for your children. 


Freedom Schools Literacy Curriculum Consultant: 

Evetty Satterfield has championed youth for over 10 years! She holds a Special Ed degree from Alabama A&M University and a Masters in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. She has served in various capacity with Children's Defense Fund Freedom School for a total of 9 years. She believes that the key to educating our scholars are educators who are able to love our kids unconditionally and remove any and every barrier for them to achieve success.

   Knox County - East Knoxville 

       Blount County - Maryville

 

 

Sarah Moore Greene Magnet Academy

Site Coordinator: T'Aisa Hobdley

is a Senior majoring in Elementary Education with Phoenix University. She is a Knoxville native.

 

 

 

Servant Leader Interns: 

 

Jamarcus Dunn is a Junior at Maryville College and majors in graphic design. He is originally from Alabama.


Montina Jones is a Sophomore at Maryville College and is majoring in Biology. She is a Knoxville native.

Madison Taylor is a 2023 graduate of Maryville College. Her major was Health and Wellness Promotion and Developmental Psychology.

 

 

 

Bessie Walker is a Freshman at Pellissippi State Community College and is majoring in Psychology. She is a Knoxville native.

 

 

 

 

Green Magnet Academy 

Site Coordinator: Cameron Rogers

graduated summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee in 2022 with bachelor’s degrees in both English and political science, and is now pursuing a master’s degree in English with a concentration in Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics at my alma mater. When not reading and writing, I’m likely hanging out with friends, brushing up on trivia, binge watching a random show, or dreaming about being on a beach. As a first-year site coordinator, my goal for this summer is to become more adaptable in the position; changing circumstances are inevitable, so I would enjoy learning to embrace and better handle change! I’m so excited to have a great summer with our ETFS scholars :)
 

Servant Leader Interns: 

Brayden Crawford is a Senior at Fisk University and she is majoring in Psychology. She is a Knoxville native.

Gigi Kidd is a Junior at Maryville College and she is majoring in Sociology. 

Jaliyah Smith is a Sophomore at Jackson State College and she is majoring in Communicative Disorders. She is a Knoxville native.

 

 

 

 

Eagleton College & Career Academy

Site Coordinator: Jacqueline Capron-Allcott 

is a Junior at UT and is majoring in Sociology & Critical Race and Ethnic Studies. She is a native of Cookeville, TN.

Servant Leader Interns: 

Elijah McGinnis is a Sophomore and an honor student at Tennessee Technological University majoring in Communications and Music Composition. Elijah is a serious student

and leader who is unafraid to speak out against inequities and injustices in society. His life, work, and leadership experiences validated his aspiration to pursue a career that will allow

Elijah to communicate and address the issues that youth in urban areas face daily. Upon completion of his undergraduate degree, Elijah intends to pursue a Law degree.

Hayden Root is a Sophomore at UT and is majoring in Aerospace Engineering. He is a Knoxville native.

Charlotte Tiffany is a Junior at UT and is majoring in Elementary Education. She is from Oswego, IL.

                           Vine Middle School

Servant Leader Interns: 

Jazmine Baxter is a Senior at Spelman College and is majoring in Biochemistry. Jasmine is a native of Alexandria, VA.

Shekinah Little graduated May 2023 from UT with a degree in Fine Arts. She is a Memphis native.

 

 

 

 

 

Research Team & Site Test Managers (STM):

 

Researcher

Dr. Zoi Traga-Philippakos - UT - CEHHS

STMs:

Dawn Beigler (KCS)

Temvelo Rejoice Matsebula (UT)

Assessment

Data

Results

East TN

Freedom Schools®

  2022 Assessment Data



  • 84% of children, improved or maintained their 
    instructional reading level.

  • 100% of parents say 

      their child

  • is a better reader

  • has more confidence 

  • believes they can make a difference

  • 100% of parents say they

    • are more likely to volunteer in the community.

    • better understand how to help their child be successful.

    • will be more engaged in child's school work.
       

  • Children participated in social action to address Climate Crisis by planting fruit trees at the Beck Cultural Exchange Center.

East TN

Freedom Schools®

  2021 Assessment Data



  • 79% of children, improved or maintained their 
    instructional reading level.

  • 100% of parents say   their child

    • is a better reader.

    • has more confidence. 

    • believes they can make a difference.

    • has learned ways to resolve conflicts.
       

  • 100% of parents say they

    • better understand how to help their child be successful.

    • plan to be more engaged in my child’s school work next year.

  • Children participated in social action with a panel discussion on Youth Justice with School District leaders.

East TN

Freedom Schools®

  2019 Assessment Data



  • 86% of children, improved or maintained their 
    instructional reading level.

  • 90% of parents say their child 

    • is a better reader. 

    • believes they can make a difference.
       

  • 90% of parents say they

    • they will be more engaged in child's school work.
       

  • Children participated in social action Against Gun Violence and demonstrated self-empowerment.

East TN

Freedom Schools®

  2018 Assessment Data



  • 100% of children, improved or maintained their 
    instructional reading level.

     

  • 90% of parents say their child

    • has more confidence.

    • is more likely to vote.

    • is a better reader. 

    • believes they can make a difference.

    • will be more engaged in child's school work.

  • 90% of parents say they

    • better understand how to help their child be successful.

    • plan to be more engaged in my child’s school work next year.
       

  • Children participated in social action to increase Voter Participation and demonstrated self-empowerment.

East TN

Freedom Schools®

  2017 Assessment Data

  • 84% of children, improved or maintained their 
    instructional reading level.

     

  • 100% of parents say  their child

    • is a better reader.

    • has more confidence. 

    • is more likely to vote.

    • believes they can make a difference.

    • has learned ways to resolve conflict

  • 100% of parents say they

    • better understand how to help their child be successful.

    • will be more engaged in child's school work.
       

  • Children participated in social action by Protesting Against planned Cuts to SNAP/EBT with a  march on Gay Street & Market Square.

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