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Tanager’s Freedom Schools Named National Runner-up

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Freedom Schools Scholars in Washington DC August, 2023

Cedar Rapids, IA – Tanager, a community leader in providing prevention and community-based services for youth, celebrates the Freedom Schools program, recently named National Runner-up for the Children’s Defense Fund Ella Baker Excellence Award. Out of six nominees across the nation, Tanager was proud to be identified by the Children’s Defense Fund(CDF) as a Freedom Schools site that demonstrates excellence across all areas of programming.

Tanager’s Freedom Schools program was recognized for many reasons including a strong adherence to program expectations, a dedication to staff training, successful program implementation, and Integrated Reading Curricula facilitation. Even more important, Freedom Schools at Tanager has demonstrated consistently high engagement from its youth scholars, positive family experience, and a strong connection with community partners.

Crystal Hall, Director of Community Based and Prevention Programs at Tanager says, “We are thrilled to be nominated in just a few short years of bringing this program to the Cedar Rapids community. Freedom Schools is such an engaging and interactive program that can impact so many middle school-aged youth, and Tanager is proud to host.”

In its fourth year, Tanager Freedom Schools now offers both a school year and summer enrichment program, serving as a resource aiming to positively impact the lives of youth in our community. Each year, Tanager serves a total of 90 middle school-aged students (30 during the school year and 60 in the summer)

In this structured setting, participants will develop reading skills using materials that focus on cultural and historical topics relevant to our society today. Participants avoid learning loss, boost reading skills, and develop leadership skills. The program is hosted at Roosevelt Creative Corridor Business Academy and McKinley STEAM Academy. The summer program ends with 25 Scholars taking a trip of a lifetime to Washington DC. “This trip allows our Scholars to see history and civic engagement in action,” stated Hall. This year’s trip will feature visits to the White House, the Capitol Building, The Museum of African American History and Culture, The Holocaust Museum, and several national monuments. This trip is made possible by community generosity through corporate sponsorships and individual donations.

For more information about CDF Freedom Schools at Tanager, please visit  or contact Director, Crystal Hall at (319) 365-9165 ext. 610 or

If you are interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities for Freedom Schools, please contact Tanager VP of Development, Jennie Null at or 319-365-9165 ext 522.


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