The Children's Defense Fund's Freedom Schools® is a six-week summer educational program for school-age children. Staffed by college-age interns, the CDF Freedom Schools program provides a supportive learning environment for children—who are referred to in the program as "scholars"—with a curriculum that emphasizes reading, writing, mentoring, leadership, and conflict resolution.
The CDF Freedom Schools program is modeled after the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of 1964, when the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee began teaching at schools as part of the movement for civil rights and voter registration.
CDF Freedom Schools is one of the innovative programs the Kauffman Foundation supported and brought to scale so it could have a much wider reach and produce greater results. With Kauffman support, Kansas City's first CDF Freedom School program opened in 1995.
In 2003, Kauffman funded the expansion of CDF Freedom Schools in Kansas City, increasing the number of schools from three to seven.
In addition, the Foundation funded efforts to strengthen training, dissemination, and sustainability for CDF Freedom Schools nationally through the Children's Defense Fund in Washington, D.C.
In 2004, the Foundation made a multi-million-dollar commitment to have twenty Freedom Schools operating in Kansas City by 2008.