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Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary to Offer Children's Defense Fund Summer Program in Partnership with the Evanston Community

March 9, 2016
Garrett-Evanston Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools

EVANSTON, Illinois – Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is now an official partner of the Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program and, in partnership with the Evanston community, will be offering this high-quality, literacy-rich program free to underserved children in the Evanston community beginning this summer. The six-week program helps children fall in love with reading and makes learning fun. It has proven to curb summer learning loss and help close achievement gaps.

"We are thrilled to partner with the Evanston community and the Children's Defense Fund to serve children and families in our community, especially in the Fifth ward," said Rev. Dr. Virginia Lee, associate professor of Christian education and director of deacon studies at Garrett-Evangelical. Rev. Dr. Reginald Blount, assistant professor of formation, youth and culture at Garrett-Evangelical notes, “This empowering program makes a difference in the lives of children by offering opportunities for summer learning and enrichment, healthy meals and snacks, and gives them hope for a better future."

The Garrett-Evanston Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools program will be located at Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church of Evanston. Lee and Blount, who will serve as co-executive directors, have been instrumental in bringing this initiative to fruition and assisting the seminary in fulfilling its commitment in the 2016-2021 Strategic Plan to enter into creative partnerships with others and to be a presence of service and care within the local community. The Garrett-Evanston Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools program will not only serve the local community, but it will also model ministry in action for Garrett-Evangelical seminary students who are being equipped to lead transformative change for the wellbeing of all persons and creation.

The Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools program also offers summer internships to local college students and young adults to mentor children and teach the integrated reading curriculum. Interns are trained by the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) to deliver the empowering program. Parents of the students will be offered weekly workshops and be connected to other resources in the community.

Since 1995 more than 137,000 kindergarten through 12th grade students have had the CDF Freedom Schools experience and more than 15,000 college students and recent graduates have been trained by CDF to make a difference in children's lives. The CDF Freedom Schools program 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.

To learn more about the Children's Defense Fund and the CDF Freedom Schools program, go to

To learn more about the Garrett-Evanton Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools Program, go to