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CDF Freedom Schools

Hope. Education. Action.

Tanager has increased its efforts at prevention programming, targeting programs toward youth with unique challenges. Programs focused on prevention provide comprehensive support for youth and ensure they have the tools needed to overcome hurdles and achieve lifelong success. Started in the summer of 2021, the CDF Freedom Schools program is integral to providing students with opportunities to enhance their overall wellness.

Building Enrichment and Engagement

Put your child on the path to success.
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  • High-quality academic enrichment
  • Parent and family development
  • Civic engagement and social action
  • Intergenerational servant leadership development
  • Nutrition, health, and mental health

lifelong success.


The CDF Freedom Schools program is a six-week summer course designed to increase literacy, self-esteem, socio-emotional skills, and a love of learning for children in grades K-12. Through a research-based and multicultural model, the CDF Freedom Schools program inspires participants, known as “scholars,” to believe in their ability to make a difference in themselves, their families, and their communities, with hope, education, and action.

The CDF Freedom Schools program encourages scholars to embrace their cultural history and reinforces confidence in their abilities. Throughout the program, scholars will build their personal libraries, establish dedicated reading times, attend field trips, and become energized for learning through the morning rally which includes singing, cheers, and chants.

CDF Freedom Schools programs are led by young-adult teachers and mentors, known as Servant Leader Interns, who come from diverse backgrounds and help scholars envision themselves as future college students, advocates, and leaders.

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History of the Program

The CDF Freedom Schools program is rooted in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project, which provided a reading and humanities curriculum of English, art, creative writing, math, and science to diverse students. The CDF Freedom Schools program has historically and continues to be a part of the Black Community Crusade for Children and aims to give all children the opportunity to engage with and enhance their education through the lens of literary characters who look like them and have walked through experiences similar to their own.

Since Marian Wright Edelman created the first CDF Freedom Schools sites in 1995, more than 150,000 children (K-12) have been enrolled in the program. Over 17,000 young adults and advocates have been trained on the delivery of the CDF Freedom Schools model, which has expanded to 182 program sites nationwide. Tanager is proud to have launched the first CDF Freedom Schools program in Iowa in 2021.

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Each day, with the help of generous community members like you, we make a difference for children and families through special courses like the CDF Freedom Schools program. If you’d like to contribute to our mission and programs, please visit our donation page.

Programming made possible in part by:

  • The Dupaco R.W. Hoefer Foundation
  • ACT
  • CRCSD Summer Learning Loss Fund

Give your child every advantage in life.

If you have any questions, please email us at or call 319-365-9165 x 610.

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If you (or someone with you) are experiencing a medical emergency, or are in danger, call 911 immediately.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or feeling suicidal, call or text 988 immediately.

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