Freedom Schools

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."
- Isaiah 61:1-2a

How to Join the Movement!

Each summer, hundreds of students in West Ohio participate in a Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom School, a six-week program dedicated to increasing literacy in students who have fallen behind in their studies. Beyond this, CDF Freedom Schools aim to help children fall in love with reading, increase their self-esteem, and generate more positive attitudes toward learning. With 12 of the 23 Ohio CDF Freedom Schools run by United Methodist churches or organizations, the United Methodist Church has played a key role in expanding the opportunities for students to participate. Still, there are many more who could benefit - with the help of your congregation!

Here are just a few stories of impact from Freedom School scholars, leaders, parents, and churches...

"My name is J’Juan Briggs and I am 13 years old, and I really enjoyed Freedom Schools this summer because we read a lot, went on field trips and the best part, Harambee.  I really enjoyed myself, had fun and I learned something new every day." (Westwood/Wesley Freedom School, Dayton)

"Being an SLI [Student Leader Intern] at Freedom Schools, has been an amazing experience this summer. I loved working with the children in my community, and having an impact on them.... Every day I got to watch the scholars grow as they learned to use their voices, that they have power, became better readers, were taught their history, learned about proper nutrition, and for some, began to realize how important education is. These children got an opportunity to experience things that they might not have gotten to anywhere else. Some of my proudest moments at Freedom School have been in my classroom. I taught my scholars that they can always [ask] questions, to question the world around them, [and] that just because things have always been a certain way does not mean that they can’t be changed. I have taught and learned so much at Freedom Schools, but one of the most important things I have learned is to never give up on a child, even when you think they have given up on themselves. That’s why Freedom Schools is special because we believe that a child can always go down a path to success, they might just need help getting there." (Nakeya Walker, University District Freedom School, Columbus)

“Thank you all for EVERYTHING you do to make the program what it is. I have put my daughter in so much, paid more than I really could have for different programs and nothing can even come close to the experiences at freedom school. She comes home singing the songs [and] writing words. She made a clock today. The kids laughed and talked all the way home about ‘the man in silly red pj's that read a book about a women in a shoe.’ She gets out of bed singing ‘GOOD MORNING.’ What you guys are doing for these kids is amazing and I'm sure I am not the only mom that feels this way. Thank You!” (a parent at the Johnstown Freedom School)

Covenant UMC in Springfield decided to conduct a Freedom School because many students lose a degree of academic skills over the summer months; it gives scholars a chance to experience a sense of socialization with other students in a smaller environment; and it provides the scholars with an opportunity to have their voices heard on a matter of social justice. Read More about Covenant UMC's Freedom School or Learn More about how your church can start a CDF Freedom School!

To learn more about Freedom Schools, watch these videos...

For more photos of CDF Freedom Schools, click here!

2017 West Ohio United Methodist Freedom Schools:

  • New Vision Freedom School, New Vision UMC, Cincinnati
  • Grace Freedom School, Grace UMC, Dayton
  • University District Freedom School, Summit UMC, Columbus
  • Heart of the City Freedom School, East Broad UMC and Asbury North UMC, Columbus
  • Westside CDF Freedom School, Greater Hilltop Area Shalom Zone, Columbus
  • Wesley Community Center, Dayton
  • Johnstown-Northridge United Methodist Churches, Johnstown
  • Southside Kingdom of Hope, Columbus
  • School for All People, Community Development for All People, Columbus
  • Covenant Freedom School, Covenant UMC, Springfield
  • Trinity Freedom School, Trinity UMC, Lima
  • Monroe Street Neighborhood Center, Monroe Street UMC, Toledo

To learn more about the Children's Defense Fund, watch this video...