Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools®

Sponsored by Deaconess Foundation 


Deaconess’ strategic plan calls for engaging local UCC congregations to support the Foundation’s child advocacy ministry. CDF Freedom Schools provide meaningful engagement opportunities for congregations by placing them in proximity to the needs of children in order to inform faith-based advocacy.  In addition, Deaconess will be partnering with the largest child advocacy organization in the United States, the Children’s Defense Fund.


CDF Freedom Schools are intergenerational, culturally competent summer programs, built on literacy, leadership and social advocacy.  The curriculum is rooted in the Civil Rights Movement’s Freedom Summer, and was originally conceived and proposed by Charles Cobb, a UCC college student.  


Deaconess embraces the Freedom School intent of being a “movement building mechanism” and intends to advance it as such for area UCC congregations.  


The seven-week program provides literacy building activities, empowerment, meals, snacks and activities, including field trips, at no charge to families.  The CDF model also includes extensive testing and evaluation to measure academic progress.


The sites will serve a total of 125 scholars recruited from Saint Louis Public Schools, Webster Groves School District and the UCC congregations. Enrollment is free and open to all families.   

Enrollment for 2018 is now open. Enroll your child(ren) here.

Employment Opportunities

The Summer 2018 employment opportunities are now closed.

Volunteer Opportunities

There are opportunities for volunteers to read to students during the program. 


2018 CDF Freedom School® Sites: 


June 11th              First Day of School (All Sites)

July 18th               Day of Social Action (Focused on Access to Healthcare)

July 27th               Last Day of School (All Sites)

Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being

1000 North Vandeventer Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63113


Peace United Church of Christ

204 East Lockwood Ave.
Webster Groves, MO 63119


Saint John's Church (The Beloved Community)

4136 North Grand Blvd.
Saint Louis, MO 63107


Frequently Asked Questions

What grade levels are eligible? 

The sites  are open to students in grades kindergarten (must have completed kindergarten) through five (5).

Are there any fees?

The program, meals and field trips are provided at no charge. 

What is a typical day like at CDF Freedom School?

Students will begin the day with breakfast and a motivational session complete with a guest reader.  Engaging activities continue throughout the morning until lunch.  The afternoon is filled with hands-on activities.  At CDF Freedom Schools programs, children are engaged in activities that nurture their minds, bodies, and spirits. 

How is the literacy component unique? 

Children, parents, and staff are introduced to a superb collection of books that reflect their own images and reinforce the CDF Freedom Schools theme I Can Make a Difference.  This collection of books reflect a wide variety of cultures and experience and is part of an Integrated Reading Curriculum (IRC) in which books, activities, field trips, and games all relate to and reinforce each other. 

Who provides the direct instruction?

Servant leader interns, college students and recent graduates trained by CDF, use the IRC to teach children conflict resolution and critical thinking skills, engage children in community service and social action projects, encourage children to participate in art and athletic activities, and help children to develop a program finale in which every child is given the chance to shine. 

Interested in learning more?  Please email Deaconess at