Press Release: Rainier Valley hosts Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® at Local Community Sites

Published on by Urban Impact.

130 scholars in K-10th grades enroll in high quality literacy program 


Contact: Marissa Ukosakul
Communications Associate

SEATTLE, WA - Urban Impact, a local community-based organization, hosted Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® at two program sites from June 29 through August 7, 2015. Rainier Avenue Church and Rainier Beach High School (RBHS) sponsor sites will unite by hosting a finale event during the last week of the summer program. Read Lead, a California-based organization, also partnered with Urban Impact to establish this as the second CDF Freedom Schools model implemented in the state of Washington. Level I-III scholars, kindergarten through eighth grades, will proudly host a program finale at Rainier Avenue Church on Thursday, August 6th from 3:30 to 5:00pm. The Level IV scholars, or students in ninth and tenth grades, will showcase their summer of learning at the Paul Robeson Performing Arts Center at Rainier Beach High School on Thursday, August 6th at 6pm. The finale will celebrate the culmination of the CDF Freedom Schools model, a transformative reading-intensive curriculum for children, referred to as “scholars”, ages 5 through 15 in the Rainier Valley.


“Freedom Schools is bringing an emphasis on education that cultivates each scholar’s unique voice and quite literally allows them to interact with their own history. Freedom Schools also gives schools in Rainier Valley a chance to prove that they do have students who matter, who have important things to say and who should have access to a high-quality education, ” said Katelyn Durst, first year servant leader intern at Rainier Beach High School.


Through carefully chosen historical and multi-cultural books, scholars explore and discuss issues like racism, history, segregation, hope, and the power of education. Throughout the Freedom Schools program, scholars connect with “I can make a difference” themes that inspire children to think, to act, and ultimately to build confidence. Each week scholars are given a new lens to look at themselves, where they are seen as the experts. The program will engage in a Day of Social Action on Friday, July 31st, where children will learn about advocacy and using they own voice to make change at the policy level. This will include a high school student-led walk for funding of public transportation to and from Seattle Public Schools and an opportunity to raise awareness of the Freedom Schools education model at Seattle City Hall.


In 1995, CDF built upon the vision and philosophy of Mississippi Freedom Summer Project 1964 and led a rebirth of Freedom Schools through the Children’s Defense Fund Black Community Crusade for Children (BCCC). Urban Impact hopes to engage families in the CDF Freedom Schools program and the greater Rainier Valley community to work toward solutions to problems facing this community this summer and beyond.


“The civil rights movement is something that we are still fighting for and education is the avenue that Freedom Schools chose to advance this movement,” said Shelby Jones, first year Servant Leader Intern at Rainier Avenue Church.


About the Childrens Defense Fund Freedom Schools

The CDF Freedom Schools program provides summer and after-school enrichment through a model curriculum that supports children and families around five essential components: high quality academic enrichment, parent and family involvement, social action and civic engagement, intergenerational servant leadership development, and nutrition, health and mental health. In partnership with faith institutions, schools, colleges and universities, and community based organizations, the CDF Freedom Schools program boosts student motivation to read, generates more positive attitudes toward learning, and connects the needs of children and families to the resources of their communities. Visit Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools online at



Read Lead is an educational initiative that empowers youth and young adults in Los Angeles County, by providing literacy-based summer and after school programs and a leadership institute focusing on global, civic, and social entrepreneurial leadership. Founded in 2011, Read Lead is led by Cassandra Chase and Joy Masha, who are both young professionals and educators who have an innovative approach that leverages community resources and expertise to support the educational landscape and forge strategic partnerships to assist families, school districts, schools, and community agencies. Through valued partnerships, Read Lead is able to empower communities by providing opportunities in literacy and leadership programs.


About Urban Impact

Urban Impact’s mission is to partner with families and communities to break the cycle of social, material, and spiritual poverty. Serving nearly 2,000 youth and adults annually, Urban Impact has been a consistent presence in Seattle’s Rainier Valley since 1987. Focused on strengthening families and raising leaders, Urban Impact partnered with people in the neighborhood to address issues surrounding education, youth development, family, health, economic stability and racial reconciliation. Generational poverty has social, material and spiritual implications. Breaking it requires a holistic approach that addresses both the personal and systemic challenges of poverty. Visit Urban Impact online at


About Rainier Avenue Church

For 25 years, Urban Impact has partnered with Rainier Avenue Church, a Free Methodist church, whose members, Board, pastors and lay leaders organized to bring CDF Freedom Schools to the Rainier Valley. Rainier Avenue Church encourages everyone in the Rainier Valley and beyond to find wholeness in Jesus Christ by building authentic community and working together for compassion and justice.


About Rainier Beach High School

Rainier Beach High School empowers their students to become lifelong learners through the support of family, staff and community, and to excel academically and creatively in a multicultural world. Rainier Beach High School empowers their students. RBHS has strong mentioning programs and an International Baccalaureate program that offers students and families to participate in the IB diploma.