VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 5/22/19)—Somerset Academy Early Learning Center, Philadelphia—a partner of American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS) Rizpah’s Children ministry—is establishing a six-week Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom School this summer. The school is funded, in part, by a grant from the Virginia and Gordon Palmer Jr. Trust, administered by American Baptist Foundation and awarded during ABHMS’ 2018 grant cycle.
Located in 87 U.S. cities in 28 states, CDF Freedom Schools offer summer literacy and cultural enrichment at no cost to families of children and youth in kindergarten through grade 12. The program seeks to encourage children to read and learn, while providing them with two nutritious meals and a snack daily and connecting their families to community resources. Emphasizing intergenerational servant leadership development, the program is staffed primarily by college interns.
CDF is a national nonprofit organization that advocates for programs that aid children, specifically regarding issues of poverty, abuse, health care, education, morality and spirituality. Growing out of the Civil Rights Movement, it was founded in 1973 by Marian Wright Edelman, who now serves as its president emerita.
The Somerset Academy CDF Freedom School will serve kindergarten through second grade students who may not otherwise have access to books, learning opportunities or nutritious food. Using an integrated reading curriculum, it seeks to reduce summer learning loss and prepare students to enter the school year at or above the reading level of their peers. It will be held July 8-Aug.16.
“The Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School model encourages children to believe in their ability to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, country and world. This aligns perfectly with the ABHMS vision for healing and transforming communities,” says the Rev. Dr. Marilyn P. Turner-Triplett, director of ABHMS’ Healing and Transforming Communities. “We hope that Somerset Learning Academy is only the first of our Rizpah’s Children partners to host a Freedom School, thus leading to a network of these schools throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.”
Since 2014, Somerset Academy has been serving the most vulnerable children and families in North Central Philadelphia. Using a case-management approach to education, it addresses not only the needs of each student but also each family. Through faith-based and community partners, it assists with housing concerns, food insecurity, financial literacy, job training and employment.
ABHMS seeks to make a difference in the lives of children living in poverty by engaging its mission partners to help establish additional Freedom Schools throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.