The CDF Freedom Schools program is not your typical summer program.
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Dear friend,

Our hearts break for the numerous individuals who lost their lives and suffered injuries in Orlando, their families, and our nation. There are no words to describe the sick and senseless violence that was perpetrated in the name of hate. The Children’s Defense Fund – California (CDF-CA) stands with the LGBT community and all communities who are continuously confronted with gun violence. From Orlando to Oakland, the pervasiveness of gun violence in our communities persists. We are sick and tired of witnessing the horror of countless lives being lost to gun violence each and every day. Just a few days ago a teenage girl was gunned down in broad daylight outside of the building that houses our Oakland office. And stories of gun violence on the nightly news have become almost routine. What can you do? Call your elected representatives and demand stronger gun control. Your voice is critical. We must protect our children and our communities.

This is one of the most exciting times of the year for us. Every summer, over 11,000 children from across the country participate in the Children Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® program where they are enriched through a culturally relevant, literacy-rich curriculum.

The CDF Freedom Schools program is not your typical summer program. The strategies our instructors use to work with students are culturally competent and effective in increasing children’s reading scores and helping to prevent summer reading loss. This summer, CDF-CA will support 1,700 children at 27 CDF Freedom Schools program sites, including four in juvenile detention camps. I encourage you to learn more about the program on our website or contact us if you are interested in hosting a CDF Freedom Schools site, volunteering at a current site or providing financial support to ensure that each summer, more and more young people have an opportunity to learn and grow.

Thank you for your continued support of CDF-CA and our fight to improve the quality of life for children, families and communities.


Alex M. Johnson
Executive Director
Children's Defense Fund - California


CDF Freedom Schools National Training

About 2,000 college students, educators and probation staff descended upon Knoxville, Tennessee earlier this month to attend Children Defense Fund Freedom Schools® Ella Baker Child Policy Training Institute. Every year, young adults from across the country gather in Tennessee to participate in the weeklong training, which provides them with the tools and strategies to effectively deliver the CDF Freedom Schools curriculum to thousands of children.

In addition to hearing and engaging with phenomenal speakers like CDF Founder Marian Wright Edelman, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., Civil Rights leader the Rev. James Lawson, Jr., author Michelle Alexander, and foundation president Robert Ross, training participants took part in workshops around a proven educational model that exposes youth to books, images, idea and activities relevant to who they are. Every morning, the group also participated in "Harambe" (means let’s pull together in Swahili), a tradition in CDF Freedom Schools where everyone participates in series of storytelling, cheers, songs and chants are truly motivating and sets the mood for learning. At the end of the week, a commencement ceremony is held for participates.

This year’s speakers included author Nikki Giovanni, recent Harvard graduate and poet Donovan Livingston and Stockton City Councilman Michael Tubbs.


CDF-CA Bills Pass First House

CDF-CA co-sponsored bills to end the criminalization of youth for riding transit without fare, limit room confinement for youth, protect children from coercive interrogation, and improve afterschool access for homeless and foster youth are halfway through the legislative process!

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California to End Harmful Maximum Family Grant Rule

The Governor and legislative leaders have reached a budget agreement that includes the repeal of the Maximum Family Grant (MFG) rule in CalWORKs, which denied basic needs assistance to any child born into a family already receiving aid.

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Working to Eliminate Racial Profiling

Governor Jerry Brown has appointed Executive Director Alex Johnson to the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board. The Board was created by AB 953, a CDF-CA supported bill passed last year that requires law enforcement agencies to collect basic information on police stops in response to growing concerns about racial profiling and police misconduct.

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Introducing Jai Phillips

We are excited to announce that Mr. Jai Phillips has joined CDF-CA as our new regional development officer. In this role, Jai will help lead our efforts to achieve our overall fundraising goals and develop specific funding relationships and partnerships with prospective funding partners.

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May 26, 2016 | Los Angeles Wave
Health care for school children is essential to their well-being
If we want to help our students succeed in school, we must focus somewhere unexpected: health coverage. Health affects every aspect of a child’s life [...]
May 25, 2016 | Huffington Post
CDF Freedom Schools: A Paradigm Shift
In a classroom adorned in bright colors, ten young scholars sit in a circle. One by one, they take turns reading aloud. At various points, the facilitator [...]
May 23, 2016 | Chronicle of Social Change
Buoyed by L.A.’s Rejection of Juvenile Solitary Confinement, Advocates Eye Elusive Sacramento Win
After Los Angeles County moved to strongly limit the use of solitary confinement in its juvenile detention facilities, advocates are now setting their sights [...]


Declare homelessness emergency in California

On any given night, there are over 115,000 homeless people in California - 21% of the entire nation’s homeless population. Counties across the state are facing a pervasive and deepening homeless crisis that imminently endangers the health and safety of tens of thousands of residents, including veterans, women, children, LGBT youth, persons with disabilities and seniors. It is time to treat this crisis like the emergency it truly is. Please join us! Sign our petition urging the Governor to declare the homeless crisis a state of emergency and bring the concerted effort and resources needed to tackle this crisis in a meaningful way.

Take action...
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