Oakland Freedom Schools is a 6-week summer academic literacy and cultural enrichment program serving 100 students (50 at each site), ages 5-14 from June 20 – July 29. With a 10:1 classroom ratio, the program provides a healthy breakfast, lunch and snack, weekly field trips and 150 minutes a day, of academic literacy instruction.


OFS serves academically underserved students who have been exposed to community violence. Operating at sites where there is high need, OFS is partnering with OUSD public schools in East Oakland (Roots International Academy), West Oakland (West Oakland Middle School), and North Oakland (Claremont Middle School) and will recruit primarily from the feeder schools and surrounding neighbor; as well as district wide.


Using college aged staff and providing them with 80 hours of training, OFS inspires a love of reading while strengthening children’s self-esteem and sense of community through rich cultural engagement, exciting programs and activities using an integrated reading curriculum that supports academic learning outcomes that meet California educational literacy standards. Additionally, OFS provides enrichment activities in STEM, dance, music, art, sports and fitness activities; weekly educational field trips and parent education workshops, and annual community outreach events.


The Children’s Defense Fund developed and coordinated The Freedom School Program in 1995 and have since operated as a national model in addition to providing books and the evidence-based IRC. More than 15,000 college students, young adults, and working professionals have been trained to deliver the empowering CDF Freedom School model serving more than 150,000 K-12 scholars.


Summer Achievement Gap-The academic achievement gap has been documented to widen during idle summer months in reading proficiency, disproportionately leaving students of color at a disadvantage. This is addressed in OFS through the culturally relevant literacy enrichment component.

Self-Esteem-African-American children’s negative cultural and racial self-image is well documented. The persistence of this negative self-image impacts their health and educational outcomes. Most academic programs fail to address these deeper cultural issues that negatively impact successful navigation through the educational system. OFS addresses this through its culturally responsive curriculum and mental health support.

Cultural Relevance-African-American children underutilize needed mental health services, mainly due to lack of access and cultural responsiveness from the provider and the delivery of services. OFS addresses this through cultural responsive curriculum and staffing, mental health support, parent and family community outreach, and retention through engagement.