Pillars of the Movement

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2020 marks the 25th year that children will learn and grow at Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® across the country. We’re taking this opportunity to celebrate and express our extreme gratitude for just a few of the people and communities who serve as the backbone of the CDF Freedom Schools movement. We owe everything to their passion, dedication, and hard work.

Wood Family

A Recipe for Success in Long Beach

Their daughter, who had recently returned from college in Pennsylvania, had worked with a CDF Freedom Schools program in the area and recommended it to them. The Woods thought it sounded like a good idea, so they put together a staff and went to Tennessee for CDF Freedom Schools’ National Training to learn how to run their own CDF Freedom Schools site. They’ve run the program every year since.

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“If It’s Good for Children, It’s the Right Thing to Do”

Mary Nell McPherson—former executive director of one of the country’s largest CDF Freedom Schools® programs, Charlotte Freedom School Partners in North Carolina—was happily surprised to see a young woman named Monica at her retirement party. Monica was a former participant in the program, and she had recently begun college at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. McPherson had written her letter of recommendation.

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Barbara Kelley-Duncan

“It’s in Your Blood”

Barbara Kelley-Duncan first learned about CDF Freedom Schools® as an employee of the Children’s Defense Fund. In 1996, Kelley-Duncan served as Vice President for leadership development in CDF’s Black Community Crusade for Children®. In that role, she helped run several programs including CDF Freedom Schools. Her experiences at CDF motivated her to start her own program years later.

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