Freedom Schools 2014 offers every child chance to learn

Freedom Schools 2014 offers every child chance to learn

📅June 4th, 2014, 09:13

A chance at an education is the greatest gift that can be given to a child. Quality education for all children is one of my passions, and I have been proud to have been able to support the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools national training program since our facility opened in 2002. The University of Tennessee Conferences has hosted the retreat in Knoxville since 1997. Every year, we host more than 1,300 Freedom Schools volunteer leaders at the University of Tennessee and the Knoxville Convention Center. These leaders will take the skills learned during the conference held this week to inspire a love of learning in students participating in Freedom Schools’ programs across the country. The Freedom Schools provide summer and after-school programs that support low-income and minority children and their families. The CDF estimates approximately 12,500 children in 28 states will participate this summer. The need for this program is great. The CDF recently release its 2014 State of America’s Children report that revealed:

  • 16.1 million children were poor in 2012. That’s one in every five children in the United States.
  • The South has the highest child poverty rate with one in four children living in poverty.
  • More than 40 percent of poor children lived in extreme poverty at less than half the poverty level.
  • Nearly one in three children of color (11.2 million children) are poor.
  • Nearly 1.2 million public school students were homeless in 2011-12.
  • More than half a million public school students dropped out of grades 9-12 during the 2009-10 school year.

The Freedom Schools program addresses this need. The researched-based curriculum is based on five qualifications: high-quality academic enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational leadership development; and nutrition, health and mental health. The Children’s Defense Fund partners with community organizations, faith institutions, schools, colleges and universities, homeless shelters and juvenile detention centers to connect families to resources. This year’s national training conference celebrates the 50th anniversary of the “Mississippi Freedom Summer Project” of 1964, when 1,000 volunteers traveled across the state to help disenfranchised black citizens register to vote. The Freedom Schools’ effort was created during that summer to provide minority students with a richer educational experience than that which was being provided to them in public schools. The program was reborn in 1992 to expand this vision to all children. The Knoxville Convention Center is proud to be a part of this tradition and to host these amazing leaders year after year that provide equal opportunity for a great education to every child. For more information on the Children’s Defense Fund and Freedom School, visit http://www.childrensdefense.org/programs-campaigns/freedom-schools/.