WASHINGTON (June 12, 2014) – Howard University today announced a new partnership to address literacy problems among middle school youth in Prince George's County, Maryland.
The Prince George's County government will open the county's first Freedom School in conjunction with Howard University’s Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel and the Howard University School of Education. The Freedom school is a six-week summer literacy program for pupils in grades six to eight, sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund.
“Prince George’s County is home of the highest concentration of Howard alumni in the world, and our legacies and aspirations are distinctly intertwined, which is why we are excited to partner with the county to open the Freedom School,” said Howard University Interim President Wayne A.I. Frederick. “The goal of this summer literacy program is to engage students in learning and instill within them confidence and a love for reading. By doing so, we will help eliminate the cradle-to-prison pipeline and establish a cradle-to-college track.”
The Freedom School will offer an evidence-based reading curriculum to at-risk and low- to moderate-income youth. The program has been shown to improve reading and reading comprehension levels for participants and is built on an age- and developmentally-appropriate curriculum. Approximately 100 middle school youth from the central and southern parts of Prince George’s County will have free access to the program.
As a component of the partnership, Howard University students will serve as teachers and mentors for the children. Additionally, Howard staff will facilitate leadership development and service-learning modules for all summer program staff and will conduct program evaluation research.
“This is a unique partnership between our public schools, Howard University and Community Builders of Maryland,” said County Executive Rushern Baker. “I would like to thank County Councilman Obie Patterson, County Councilwoman Karen Toles and Community of Hope AME Church for their support of this effort.”
The Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools are found in 29 states, serving more than 12,600 children. Modeled after the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Schools, the schools are designed to promote literacy within deeply impoverished and segregated communities.
“As business leaders in Prince George’s County, we are excited to support the education and development of our youth,” said Jim Estepp, president and CEO of the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable. “This is an important opportunity for us to extend the county’s summer academic programs and help prepare students for the upcoming school year.”
“This program offers dynamic literacy enrichment activities for students in a safe and supportive learning environment,” said Prince George’s County Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Kevin Maxwell. “I extend sincere thanks to Howard University, County Executive Baker, members of our County Council as well as our business leaders for their commitment and dedication to the students of Prince George’s County.”
ABOUT THE FREEDOM SCHOOL IN PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY
Revived by the Children's Defense Fund in the early 1990s, these summer programs have transformed the lives and performance of elementary, middle and high school "scholars," as well as the lives of the college students, known as "servant leader interns," who work with them. The program is built on providing five starts to children: head start, healthy start, moral start, safe start and a fair start. This will be the first Children's Defense Fund Freedom School in Prince George's County, Maryland. The Chapel Office welcomes opportunities to collaborate in the support of youth and communities throughout the metropolitan area. For further information, please contact 202-806-7280.