Freedom School

CDF Freedom Schools© are summer programs designed to increase literacy, self-esteem, socio-emotional skills, and a love of learning for children in elementary school. We disrupt the summer learning slide by keeping scholars engaged and stimulated. CDF Freedom Schools© help children discover their potential and greatness, utilizing books and curricula that celebrate the cultures and contributions of people of color. We also employ young-adult teachers who serve as role models and mentors.

Make An Impact

We are already making plans for our second summer of Freedom School, especially targeting our own Washington Township elementary students. 2023 dates are June 20 - July 28. We have big plans to make this summer EVEN MORE impactful than last summer, and we need your help. Check out the detailed sign-up below to find the roles and dates that fit you best!

Freedom_School_Indy_Church3.jpgStatistics show that 81% of scholars who participate in Freedom School avoid summer learning loss. And our own 2022 experience showed only 1 scholar who lost any ground. In addition, according to CDF research, scholars across the country report that Freedom School helps them:

  • develop a growth mindset 
  • successfully regulate their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors 
  • take the perspective of and empathize with others 
  • cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, an negotiate conflict constructively 
  • make constructive choices about personal behaviors and social interactions 

We hire quality student interns to teach and mentor scholars. We provide two hot meals plus a snack each day. And we strive to give scholars experiences and activities they wouldn't get elsewhere. This adds up to a cost of $125,000 for a 5-6 week program.  

Amount Invested Return on Investment
$12 Pays for one day's meals for one scholar or leader
$300 Pays for one scholar's or leader's meals for the summer
$30,000 Pays for all meals for the summer
$300 Pays for books and supplies for one student
$3600 Pays for books and supplies for one classroom
$2000 Pays for one field trip
$7500 Pays the stipend for the Site Coordinator
$5000 Pays for one Student Leader Intern stipend
$5000 Pays for 4 leaders to attend Freedom School training in Kentucky

This is an investment worth making! 

Invest in Scholars Here

“Education is the precondition for a child to thrive. Yet, only 13 percent of Black fourth graders can read at grade level. That kind of man-made disaster is what CDF Freedom Schools have been created to prevent and eliminate. We believe a child who can read is a more confident and empowered child. Children who can’t read are sentenced to a social and economic death. With the help of a group of nationally recognized reading specialists, backed by an intensive training course for college servant leaders at CDF Haley Farm, the Children’s Defense Fund has devoted years toward developing CDF Freedom Schools around a strong and effective integrated reading curriculum”

-Marian Wright Edelman Founder and President Emerita

Volunteer Information Center

We are ready for you to sign up for summer Freedom School dates/shifts! Important roles for the summer include:

  • Classroom Volunteers - please sign up for at least 5 (can be nonconsecutive) days.
  • Hospitality - front desk help (sign up for unlimited number of shifts!)
  • Kitchen Help (unlimited opportunities)
  • Afternoon Activities - sign up for dates you can work, and we will provide more detailed plans as the time gets closer
  • On Call - we may call you at the last minute if we need your help!


Training for Freedom School

Questions? Contact our St. Luke’s Freedom School Executive Director Seema Mernitz!

This training module, led by Derrin Slack of ProAct Indy and Emily Dills of Washington Township Schools, will guide us to better understand ourselves and others, and provide tools and strategies that can be directly applied to our work in Luke's Leaders and CDF Freedom Schools. This is required training for all Freedom Schools and Luke’s Leaders volunteers. Dinner will be available, and you can indicate that when you sign up. 

This training will bring together St. Luke's volunteers AND Freedom School staff and interns, and will be a time of team-building and final preparations. It will also include a follow-up Module #2 training with Derrin Slack and Emily Dills, and even a pitch-in dinner! 
Kitchen Volunteer Training - No registration needed!

Scholars & Families Information Center

Freedom School Dates | June 20 – July 28 (no school July 4)

School Day | 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Location | St. Luke’s United Methodist Church | 100 W 86th Street | 317-846-3404 

Transportation | Washington Township bus transportation provided for families who attend Nora, Spring Mill, Willow Lake, Greenbriar, and Fox Hill Elementary Schools 

Freedom School Sunday | July 23 

Family Finale Celebration | July 26

Questions? Contact Seema Mernitz |

You Belong Here

In community, at this church, serving others, in relationship with God, and by making an impact in the world!