The Central Gulf Coast Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools program has been selected as one of three finalists in the Pensacola Bay Area IMPACT 100’s education focus area. IMPACT 100 members will vote for the winner in each focus area, and those winners will be announced on October 16, 2022.
The six Episcopal Churches in Pensacola were the initial partners to assist in creating a local Freedom Schools program. Representatives from those six churches were the founding members of the initial Central Gulf Coast CDF Freedom Schools Board of Directors. Currently, the Board has members from across the community, representing Baptist Health Care, The Escambia County School District, the University of West Florida, and other community groups and leaders. Those from our diocese who are continuing to serve on the board are Dr. Sally Crenshaw, Mrs. Nettie Eaton, the Rev. Katie Gillette, Ms. Lauren Green, Mrs. Geneva Hill, the Rev. Deacon Rachel Iversen, Ms. Della Denny-Abbott Maddox, the Rev. John Phillips, the Rt. Rev. George Young, and the Rev. Kammy Young.
The CDF Freedom School is a six-week summer academic enrichment program based on a high-interest reading program. Other factors such as character building, civic engagement and parental involvement are also key components. The first Freedom Schools were developed in 1964 In Mississippi as part of the civil rights movement. In 1995, the Children’s Defense Fund opened the first two CDF Freedom Schools, and there are now over 130 summer program sites in 24 states across the United States.
With the Pensacola Bay Area IMPACT 100 grant, the local program will be able to expand its partnership and pilot project with the Escambia County school district to provide support for 150 students in more than one school, build the database to expand exponentially into all Title I schools and develop over 15 new young adult leaders and educators along the way.
This year was the third year of operation for the Central Gulf Coast CDF Freedom Schools summer program and it was held at the Global Learning Academy, an Escambia County School District elementary school. All funds to cover the program costs were raised through local community partners and individual donors. Central Gulf Coast CDF Freedom Schools is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit tax-exempt organization.
Members of the Central Gulf Coast CDF Freedom Schools program are deeply appreciative of all in the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast and beyond who have dedicated their time, resources and service!
As they enter the final step in the process to be potentially awarded the IMPACT 100 education grant, we humbly ask for your prayers. Receiving this grant will magnify their ability to extend the program to serve additional scholars who desperately need intensive assistance in reading especially during the summer.