When children from low-income households don’t have access to high-quality summer learning programs, they lose literacy skills.
United Way Summer Learning initiatives combines fun and learning so our children continue to thrive even when school’s out. Our Summer Learning Coalition plays a pivotal role by aiding to:
- Increase the number of summer opportunities available across the Lehigh Valley, especially for low-income children.
- Increase the quality of all summer opportunities to ensure they are rigorous and address language and literacy skills.
- Organize information about summer learning opportunities so families are more aware of the resources available.
- Fund summer learning programming in partnership with school districts.
Why Summer Learning is important:
- Low-income students not engaged in summer learning fall 2–3 grade levels behind their peers by the end of 5th grade.
- Low-income children not reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade are 13x more likely to drop out of school.
james lawson freedom schools
Established and led by Resurrected Community Development Corporation, the James Lawson Freedom School empowers school-age children to excel and believe in their ability to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, country and world with hope, education and action. James Lawson Freedom School is the first and only CDF-certified Freedom School in the Lehigh Valley.
Empowering Children to Believe in Their Unlimited Abilities
Did you know that children in our community from low-income households lose two to three months of literacy skills when they don’t have access to high-quality summer learning programs?
That’s why United Way invests in summer learning initiatives that combine fun and learning, so our children continue to thrive even when school’s out.
In-person summer learning returned in 2021, and 110 children were able to attend the James Lawson Freedom School, established and led by Resurrected Community Development Corporation and held in the Christ Lutheran Church in Allentown.
Mornings at Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools are energizing and inspiring. After a nutritious breakfast, the day starts with Harambee!, a time for children and staff to share, sing and celebrate themselves and each other. “Harambee,” which means “let’s pull together” in Swahili, puts students in a positive mindset for their day of reading instruction, thoughtful discussions and engaging learning activities.
Traditionally serving underrepresented communities, Freedom Schools empower children and young adults to excel and believe in their ability to make a difference in themselves and in their families, schools, communities, country and world.
“The Freedom Schools Movement is really about helping our children fall in love with reading, fall in love with learning, but most importantly, fall in love with themselves,” said Dr. Alisha Tatem, Project Director at James Lawson Freedom School.
Freedom Schools engage young adults, parents, community leaders, and community-based organizations to create supportive and nurturing environments where every child can thrive.
There are not enough summer learning opportunities here in the region that serve our students of color and just $10 a week helps a child keep learning over the summer and start school on track.
The Freedom Schools Program Model
Freedom Schools engage young adults, parents, community leaders, and community-based organizations to create supportive and nurturing environments that set high expectations for all children, strengthen their sense of self-worth and affirm that they are loved and valued by caring adults. The program is centered on five essential components:
- High-quality academic programming
- Civic engagement and social action
- Intergenerational leadership development
- Parent and community involvement
- Nutrition, health and mental health supports
How to Help
To grow the Freedom Schools movement, Resurrected Community Development Corporation created the Lehigh Valley Freedom School Partnership. The partnership includes the City of Allentown, Allentown School District, Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley, The Barn, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and more.
“Making an investment in our children is making an investment in the totality of the community.”
Rev. Dr. Greg Edwards
Resurrected Community Development Corp. and
James Lawson Freedom School