Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota Freedom Schools Scholars Marched for Peace Today

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

For More Information Contact:

Jessica Anderson, CDF-MN 
janderson@childrensdefense.org
(651) 855-1188

Minneapolis, Minn. — Demonstrating for peace and against the recurring loss of Black lives during encounters with law enforcement, more than 150 youth enrolled at three CDF Freedom Schools sites (North Community YMCA, Sojourner Truth Academy, Minneapolis Parks and Recreation – Folwell) marched together down Broadway Avenue in Minneapolis on Wednesday afternoon. The program that followed highlighted the upcoming election and the importance of voting as a means for effecting change.

In addition to offering culturally competent summer enrichment, the CDF Freedom Schools program helps scholars aged 5-18 discover their power to make a positive difference in the world around them. On the annual National Day of Social Action, CDF Freedom Schools sites in Minnesota and across the country empower scholars to take action and raise a collective voice on an issue affecting children in their communities.

“The CDF Freedom Schools program gives young scholars the tools they need to become the next generation of leaders,” said Nicole Hernandez, CDF-MN’s director of youth development. “Those tools include academic skills, but also civic engagement skills and encouragement to be makers of change in the world.”

This year’s theme was “Impact the Vote 2016.” Three of the 13 CDF Freedom Schools sites across the Twin Cities area participated in the march and learned about voting as a tool for change. The remaining ten sites conducted activities independently, including at Park Avenue United Methodist Church where scholars held their own march for peace and learned about the history of protest and elections. State Representative Peggy Flanagan visited with scholars at Anishinabe Academy to talk about the importance of being engaged in the electoral process and scholars' parents had the opportunity to register to vote on site later in the day.

“Today was an opportunity for our scholars to understand the importance of being involved in their communities, to know that they have the power to make change, and to learn about the means they have to do it,” concluded Sheena Smith, coordinator of the CDF Freedom Schools program at Sojourner Truth Academy.

About the CDF Freedom Schools program: The CDF Freedom Schools program, celebrating its 21st year in Minnesota, provides comprehensive, culturally relevant summer enrichment to children in high-poverty areas. The program helps children fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem, and generates more positive attitudes toward learning. The program is proven to curb summer learning loss, a critical component to closing the opportunity gap. The first CDF Freedom Schools site focusing on American Indian culture opened in Minneapolis last year in partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools Office of Indian Education and the Division of Indian Work, and Minnesota is home to the first CDF Freedom Schools site operated out of a juvenile detention facility (Stadium View). Academia Cesar Chavez in St. Paul was the first CDF Freedom Schools site in the nation to operate a year-round before and after-school program in addition to the traditional summer enrichment program. This summer, 1,200 children will participate in the CDF Freedom Schools program at 13 sites across the Twin Cities metro area. CDF Freedom Schools sites include: Anishinabe Academy (in partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools Office of Indian Education and the Division of Indian Work), Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (Folwell), North Community YMCA, Park Avenue United Methodist Church, Pillsbury United Communities (Oak Park), Sojourner Truth Academy, and Stadium View in Minneapolis; Osseo Public Schools (Birch Grove and Park Brook); and Academia Cesar Chavez, St. Paul City School and St. Paul Public Schools in St. Paul (Capitol Hill/Rondo and Hazel Park).

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The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.