In many school districts across the country summer vacation is getting into full swing. But for a lucky group of nearly 10,000 children in 87 cities and 27 states around the country, it’s not just summer—it’s a Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® summer.
“For me, Freedom Schools was my first exposure to African American college students. Until that time, I couldn’t tell you what college was, couldn’t spell ‘college,’” said Donnie Belcher, who began attending the CDF Freedom Schools program at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo. when she was 12 years old. “I actually put a face, a Black face, behind the idea of going to college. We talk about the impact of fatherlessness on Black males, but not on females—and I still remember Lavelle, who was a Morehouse man. He served as the first positive Black male I had ever seen in 12 years.” That experience stayed with Donnie and fueled her dreams of going to college and becoming a teacher through her high school years and beyond.