Alcorn partners with Children's Defense Fund, offers Freedom School

Alcorn partners with Children’s Defense Fund, offers  Freedom School 

Alcorn State, Miss. (May 4, 2012) – Alcorn State University is partnering with the Children’s Defense Fund to offer a six-week program to enhance the literacy skills of 50 students between kindergarten and 12th grade.

Using a successful national model, the Alcorn Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School will give priority to students from Southwestern Mississippi. From June 18 to July 27, this free program will improve reading skills, generate more positive learning attitudes and boost students’ self esteem.

Alcorn President M. Christopher Brown II welcomes the summer enrichment program as part of his strategic initiatives.

“The Alcorn Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School will enrich the lives of students living near us,” Brown said. “While providing them with skills that will help improve their academic performances, this experience will further expose them to the importance of higher education and help them envision themselves earning college degrees.”

Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools National Director Dr. Jeanne Middleton-Hairston is excited to partner with Alcorn.

“It is an honor to work with Alcorn, the nation’s oldest public historically black land-grant institution. We are confident that the Alcorn Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School will serve well the children and families in the Alcorn community,” Middleton-Hairston said. “The curriculum is designed to bring history alive and allow students to study and honor those individuals on whose shoulders we stand today, like Alcorn alum Medgar Wiley Evers.”

Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools trace their roots to the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project of 1964. The Council of Federated Organizations and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a group commonly called SNCC, birthed the Freedom Schools.

In 1992, the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools program was reborn under the Children’s Defense Fund’s Black Community Crusade for Children and the leadership of Marian Wright Edelman.

Freedom Schools have operated in nearly 30 states and have enriched the lives of more than 90,000 K-12 students.

The Alcorn Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School will be lead by adults and a group of well-qualified university student leaders.

The Alcorn Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School program site will be a safe and restorative learning space where:

    • Children are surrounded by caring adults and college-age young adults from their community who share their enthusiasm for learning and reading and commit to serving them as authentic mentors.

    • Children read high-quality books and are engaged in learning activities that are appropriate to their developmental needs and interests.

    • Each day begins with “Harambee!,” a 30-minute activity to celebrate and affirm the value of each participant and prepare for work and learning.

    • Children receive two nutritious meals and a healthy snack each day in the summer program.

    • Parents are engaged as site volunteers and participate in weekly workshops on children’s developmental needs, civic responsibility and other topics of interest.

    • Children are encouraged and supported to dream, set goals, cultivate positive attitudes and high expectations.

    • Young people whose lives have been interrupted and impacted by crises receive consistent, daily service to better understand themselves, their situations, each other and their potential.

    • Families have access to free, high-quality childcare.

Apply now – parents may submit applications online until May 18. Paper applications may be picked up at the Office of Student Engagement, second floor of the James L. Bolden Campus Union.

Those with questions may call Dr. Valerie Thompson, co-executive director, at 601.877.6385 or Dr. Carrie Ford, project director, at 601.877.4716.

“I’ve been to hundreds and hundreds of schools around the country and my visits to Freedom Schools have been among my most inspiring and most memorable,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “When I see their success, I want more students to have these remarkable opportunities.”


Alcorn State University is a premier comprehensive land-grant university that develops diverse students into globally-competitive leaders, and applies scientific research through collaborative partnerships which benefit the surrounding communities, state, nation and world.