The mission of the Winston-Salem Freedom Schools programs is to boost student motivations to read, generate more positive attitudes toward learning, increase self-esteem and connect the needs of children and families to the resources of their communities.
Rooted in the Mississippi Freedom Summer project of 1964, the CDF Freedom Schools program is a 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 nonexistent. CDF Freedom Schools provide six-week summer and after-school enrichment through a research-based and multicultural curriculum that supports children and families through five essential components:
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High quality academic and character building enrichment
Parent and family involvement
Civic engagement and social action
Intergenerational servant leadership development
Nutrition, health, and mental health
CDF Freedom Schools have their origins in the Mississippi Freedom Summer project of 1964, which brought more than 1,000 college students from around the country to Mississippi to secure justice and voting rights for Black citizens, and to teach in Freedom Schools that were implemented to support the black youth who were subjected to inferior educational opportunities provided by the state’s public schools.
In the ten years since the Brown v. Board of Education decision, racial segregation remained in place in most Southern school districts due to the opposition by White folks and the lack of federal enforcement of appropriate standards. At the beginning of the 1960’s, Mississippi was still spending four times as much on White students as on African American students. Additionally, the curriculum and staff at many African American schools during that time were being monitored to prevent teaching or discussing aspects of African American history or the Civil Rights Movement. These disparities in education created lifelong social and economic consequences for Black folks in the state.
In those same ten years, Ella helped Martin Luther King, Jr organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, before she organized a meeting at Shaw University for the student leaders of the sit-ins in April 1960. From that meeting, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee — SNCC — was born. Adopting the Gandhian theory of nonviolent direct action, SNCC members joined with activists from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) to organize the 1961 Freedom Rides.
In 1964 SNCC helped create the Freedom Summer project. Ella Baker saw education as a tool for social mobility for the Black folk in Mississippi. Ella Baker had a stubborn determination and passionate commitment to be of service to others, and to nurture and sustain young civil rights activists. The philosophy of “Servant Leadership” guided her work with people and organizations, and remains part of her enduring legacy.
Winston-Salem Freedom Schools is a collective made up of leaders from each of our local Freedom School sites, Action4Equity, and committed community leaders who work with the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School system and other community partners to provide this transformative program to our local schools and families.
Entering 2023, there are nine Freedom School sites around Winston-Salem serving over 400 scholars from our area public schools and their communities, with intentions to grow the number of sites and scholars.
Winston-Salem Freedom Schools seeks to create spaces for scholars, parents, and educators to come together and engage in meaningful actions that allows communities and their schools to grow academically and socially.
This is why our strategy is year-round with regards to family engagement, curriculum engagement and analysis, year-round implementation of restorative justice practices in the sites of our summer programs, and making community and family resources increasingly available and accessible.
Parent and community engagement is a centerpiece of the program, as weekly parent meetings provide the space for networking and development and events such as the National Day of Social Action provide opportunities for scholars to invest in their neighborhoods, schools, and city.
The sites and organizations that provide the locations and support for our Winston-Salem Freedom Schools are diverse: Community-based, Faith-based, Institutions for Higher Learning, and our WSFCS schools. Each site serves 40 to 60 scholars.
It costs $1500 for a scholar to attend the 6-week program; that’s $250 a week for an all-day program with nutritious meals, a transformative literacy experience, afternoons filled with enrichment activities and trips, and parent/family support.
This cost is never passed off to the families but is raised through partnerships with our school district and other sponsors, the support of donors, and generous people like you. Summer registration begins in March.
Dr. Charlotte Leach
Rev. Terrance Hawkins
OLD TOWN COMMUNITY
Dr. Linda Winikoff
Rev. Russ May
WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY
Dr. Dani Parker-Moore