CDF Freedom Schools offers an exciting Integrated Reading Curriculum (IRC) including carefully chosen developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant books. The model curriculum supports children and families through 5 essential components:

  • High-quality academic enrichment
  • Parent and family development
  • Civic engagement and social action
  • Intergenerational servant leadership development
  • Nutrition, health and mental health

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

CDF Freedom Schools

Recently, Tanager Place 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. CDF Freedom Schools in an integral program that will provide students with opportunities to enhance their overall wellness.

About the Program

CDF Freedom Schools© is a six-week summer program 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 program model, CDF Freedom Schools 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 (“Harambee”) which includes singing, cheers and chants.

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

History of the Program

CDF Freedom Schools 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.


Freedom Schools was reborn in 1993 by Marian Wright Edelman and since 1995, more than 150,000 children (K–12) have had the CDF Freedom Schools experience. 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 Place is proud to launch the first CDF Freedom Schools® program in Iowa in 2021.

Summer 2021

Our enrollment for the Summer 2021 CDF Freedom Schools program is currently full and is no longer accepting applications. Programming will run June 14th – July 23rd, Monday-Friday from 8am-3pm at McKinley Middle School. Transportation to and from McKinley Middle School is not provided. Students will receive breakfast, lunch and snack each day.

Programming made possible in part by:

  • New Leader Manufacturing
  • The Maurice Paul & Glennys Brimmer Foundation.