Teaching literacy, shaping futures

Our CDF Freedom School program aims to develop strong, literate, and empowered children who may not have access to books or the appropriate environmental structure necessary to do summer reading in a six-week enrichment program.

Our program’s purpose is to close the achievement gap by improving literacy and learning for children who face poverty and lack access to the educational resources they need to succeed. The Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program at Emmaus House is a summer program serving students from kindergarten through fifth grade. Its aim is to motivate young scholars to read, build positive attitudes towards learning, and empower them to make a difference in themselves, their families, their communities, and their world.

Help keep children from falling behind

During an average summer, students may lose up to two months' worth of learning. This is known as the “summer slide,” and it accounts for more than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income students.

The statistics portray a sober reality

  • Children who can’t read by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school.
  • In 2013, only 21 percent of fourth-grade children from low-income families in Georgia could read at or above grade level.
  • Sixty-six percent of fourth-graders in Georgia are not proficient in reading. (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2015)
  • Forty percent of low-income fourth-graders in Georgia are reading below grade level. (Early Care and Education Consortium, 2015)

Students who do not complete high school are significantly more likely than high school graduates to become incarcerated, become teen parents, be subjected to violence as either an aggressor or a victim, be unemployed, or be recipients of Medicaid and welfare.

The good news is that studies have found that educational summer programs for children, like the CDF Freedom School program at Emmaus House, can help reduce or eliminate achievement gaps. Plus, the effects of these summer programs last over time. We believe in solving problems instead of treating symptoms. Our program is a perfect example of this.

We offer results

Each year, we evaluate a sample cohort of scholars using procedures recommended by the Freedom School program. Since the inception of our program in 2015, results show that our scholars are making significant gains.

On average, 85 percent of scholars who were evaluated maintained or gained in their instructional reading level over the six-week program as measured by pre- and post-program standardized testing.

Find out more

For more information about our CDF Freedom School, please contact Ann Fowler at (404) 525-5948, ext. 27 or annfowler@emmaushouse.org.