CoCo’s Freedom Schools Is Back to Prevent “Summer Slip”

25 Jun CoCo’s Freedom Schools Is Back to Prevent “Summer Slip”

By MARSHA MITCHELL, Senior Director of Communications

In 2011, Community Coalition began partnering with the Children’s Defense Fund to provide summer learning after LAUSD eliminated 90% of summer school programs due to budget cuts. This year’s 6-week summer leadership and literacy enrichment program kicked off on Monday, June 24, with lots of hype and fanfare from our students. Aurea Montes-Rodriguez, Vice President of Community Coalition, says, “The goal of the program is to support Black and Brown children in South Los Angeles to help prevent ‘summer slip.'”

While children in more privileged areas continue to thrive during the summer, our community’s children often face a learning gap due to the dearth of accessible educational opportunities. Research underscores this disparity, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods, where students, on average, regress by more than two months in reading skills. This is where the Community Coalition, in partnership with the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools, steps in to make a significant difference in our community. 

Each day, our ‘scholars’ kick off with a HARAMBEE, a powerful ritual of self-affirmation through spirited cheers, chants, and songs. This is followed by a special guest reading a selection, often related to civil rights, to inspire and educate our young participants. The day then unfolds with engaging reading and studying in small groups, providing a unique and enriching learning experience that sets our program apart. 

Check Out Our Freedom School Scholars

The teachers are college students, often from the same communities as our participants. Community Coalition is one of the few Freedom Schools that adds a curriculum that elevates political development among youth. Students learn about the importance of taking pride in being Black and Latino. “Freedom Schools come at a pivotal time for South L.A. students. Our children are seeing Black lives being murdered every day on the news,” said Aurea Montes-Rodriguez. “Freedom Schools provide a space for them to heal and build their self-esteem.”

Past freedom schools have been hosted on area college campuses. This year, we are proud to partner with the SEED School of Los Angeles —the first public, college-prep, boarding STEM high school in South LA—as our host site. SEED is planting a safe space for youth who genuinely need a nurturing, secure environment, with priority admission being given to foster youth, homeless/housing insecure youth, and youth with an incarcerated family member. The college prep provides students with a pathway to college and career readiness by engaging in computer sciences, engineering, and studies of systems and societies through transportation infrastructure. Students live on campus, five days a week, in a 24-hour learning campus. The holistic model brings a full suite of services to meet each student’s needs, including academic, social, emotional, physical, and mental health services.

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