Research suggests that during summer break, students from low-income communities can lose as much as 1/3 of the academic progress gained during the school year compared with their peers from higher-income communities. Since 2006, Metanoia’s Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School has helped hundreds of North Charleston students aged K-8th grade continue their learning while avoiding this “learning slip” that many of our students would otherwise experience during summer break.
Freedom School is a six-week long, high-energy summer camp-type environment that teaches students in equal measure the love of reading and how they can make a difference in themselves, their families, their communities, their country and their world. It is free, giving hard-working parents a safe and enriching child care option during the majority of the summer. Rather than being a remedial reading program, it is an environment that focuses on a child’s strengths and imagination through reading and reading-related activities. The goal of Freedom School is to get students and their families excited to read and learn through the rich characters, ideas, values and settings in the curriculum books. Every week, each of the 100 students gets to take home a new book to build their own libraries. All of the books chosen are age-appropriate and reflect our students’ heritage, culture and images. Students also take part in daily enrichment activities like cooking classes or karate, participate in social action projects (last year they wrote their congressmen letters pleading to do something about gun violence) and get to go on fun educational field trips.