Houston Strong | August 2017

Houston Strong

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Credit: Thomas B. Shea/Agence France-Presse

The board and staff of the Children's Defense Fund send our heart-filled prayers and support to all facing loss and hardship following the devastating damage wrought by Hurricane Harvey. We call upon federal, state, and local leaders to ensure proper attention is paid to the needs of children, older adults, the homeless, refugees, and differently abled as resources are distributed to respond to the widespread loss. To the CDF-Texas staff, our CDF Freedom Schools partners, and the many friends and supporters in Texas, we hold you in our hearts and thoughts.

Families with young children, the homeless, older adults, and differently abled are particularly vulnerable right now. Here are a few options to help:

  1. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has established a local Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Here's how to donate online or by mail.
  2. To give to immediate relief efforts, you can also donate to any of the local food banks and organizations listed in this Texas Monthly article.
  3. To give to a community service organization that is coordinating volunteer efforts in local Houston Neighborhoods, please visit:  https://www.bakerripley.org/.

All Eyes Now on CHIP


Congress returns to Washington next week and one of the critical items to address before the end of September is funding for the bipartisan Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). For 20 years CHIP has ensured millions of children access to high-quality, child-appropriate affordable health coverage. CHIP has helped reduce the number of uninsured children by half, improved health outcomes and access to care for children, and as a result helped reduce school absenteeism and improve children’s readiness to learn. Today, CHIP is a lifeline for 8.9 million children in families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private coverage. But unless Congress takes action, the funding for this highly successful program will end after September 30, 2017. Millions of children could lose health coverage and millions more would pay more for less comprehensive coverage, making them all worse off than they are today. Facing the risk that this CHIP funding could soon end, many states are poised to establish waiting lists and send out disenrollment notices to families. Such actions would create chaos in program administration and confusion for families seeking health care for their children. After many, many months fighting to protect Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), our combined efforts to move forward, not backwards for children must continue. Congress must act now to avoid any disruption to children’s health coverage and enact a strong, clean extension of CHIP funding for at least five years. 


Make a Difference, One Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® Program at a Time!


The CDF Freedom Schools program is now accepting Summer 2018 Sponsor Applications. Please complete this printable application, or apply online. 

The CDF Freedom Schools program helps children dream big, fall in love with books, and make a difference. Over this summer more than 12,000 children in 26 states and the District of Columbia have been empowered through this literacy-rich, child-centric, fun-infused, and love-immersed experience. Learn more about how the CDF Freedom Schools program is making a difference for children and communities across the country in a small sample of CDF Freedom Schools stories below.

“Students leave more prepared for their next grade level. They exit with a greater voice to serve in the classroom and the community.” Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, Claflin University President.
More: Claflin's Freedom School aims to curb summer learning loss

“When you get 100 scholars and their families being transformed, then that means they begin to relate to the rest of the community and the entire community becomes transformed.” Rev. Lawrence Livingston, Pastor, Mother African Union Church.
More: Wilmington's Freedom School focuses on transforming communities

“During the six weeks of programing, our scholars have gained up to five reading achievement levels. Read Lead CDF Freedom Schools program scholars are going back to school ahead of their peers, ready and eager to learn.” Cassandra Chase, co-founder of Read Lead.
More: Read Lead Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Help to Close Achievement Gap 


Experience What Hope Feels Like on November 7th


The Children’s Defense Fund invites you to join CDF President Marian Wright Edelman for an inspirational evening honoring five extraordinary Washington, D.C. area scholars who have overcome tremendous adversity and are beating the odds. Bring your family, friends and coworkers to the 2017 CDF Beat the Odds® Celebration on November 7th at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. to congratulate our future leaders and experience what hope feels like.

We are excited to introduce you to our 2017 honorees. See you November 7th! Buy your tickets today.

Elsa Serrano Arita – Herndon High School: Herndon, VA
Jonathan Benitez – Washington Latin Public Charter School: Washington, D.C.
Christian Ndaye – Cardozo Education Campus: Washington, D.C.
Tallya Rhodes – H.D. Woodson Senior High School: Washington, D.C.
Khalis Williams – Oxon Hill High School: Oxon Hill, MD


Move Forward With Hope


Encourage your faith community to participate in the 26th Annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths® Celebration, "Moving Forward with Hope: Love and Justice for Every Child." This year's celebration will be October 20-22, 2017, uniting places of worship across the religious spectrum throughout the nation. Local faith communities are invited to join this occasion to highlight and respond to the needs of children, especially children experiencing deep poverty, hunger, homelessness, and lack of health care, through worship services, educational programs, caring action, and speaking out for justice. The Children's Sabbath weekend serves as a springboard for renewed and expanded efforts to improve the lives of children throughout the year. Download this year's free, easy-to-use multi-faith resources on our website.


Make an Impact!


The Children’s Defense Fund is launching the Child Defender Fellowship to offer community leaders and activists an opportunity to build skills, influence local systems impacting children, and build communities that will further social justice to ensure all American children have a fair start and equal opportunities in their lifetime. Sign up on our website today and learn more about how you can become a Child Defender Fellow.


Standing Up for the Most Vulnerable Students in Long Beach

Credit: Long Beach Post

The Children's Defense Fund-California continues to work with community organizations and parents to ensure greater transparency and equity in the way in which Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) spends its funding to support and provide services for high-need students. On August 23, the coalition filed an appeal with the state Department of Education over how LBUSD, the third largest school district in California, is spending its Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) money.

“This is an important day for Long Beach students and for LCFF implementation in California,” said Shimica Gaskins, executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-California. “Students and educators win when LCFF supplemental and concentration funds are properly spent to improve and increase services for high need students. CDF-CA is here to help hold systems accountable to that end.” Back in April, the coalition filed a complaint. As a result, LBUSD has already redistributed more than $17 million dollars for programs and services targeted for the low-income, English language learners, and foster youth students. Learn more about the effort.


This Is No Time for Silence and Inaction


Dive into Marian Wright Edelman’s Child Watch® Columns from this month. She covers topics from going back to school to highlighting Beat The Odds® stories of bravery and adults’ responsibility, in the wake of Charlottesville, to teach children how to respect the sacred lives of every human being. Take part in these riveting discussions on confronting our past and protecting our future by leaving your comments. #MustRead

"Welcome to America"

"Please Take Sides: This is No Time for Silence or Inaction"

"A Success Story to Inspire Us All"

"A Child Advocate’s Beatitudes"


The Children’s Defense Fund is dedicated to working with child advocates like you, policymakers and others to ensure all of America's children remain a top priority in 2017.

Please show your support by giving as generously as you can and encourage others in your network to join our community.

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