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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
August 2, 2023

Dear County and District Superintendents and Charter School Administrators:

Improve Literacy Skills and Unlock Potential with Freedom Schools®

As education administrators work to address pervasive student needs exacerbated by the pandemic, the California Department of Education (CDE) invites you to learn more about a K–12 model that engages students and their families in literacy-enriched activities that unlock student potential: the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® (https://www.childrensdefense.org/programs/cdf-freedom-schools/). The CDF Freedom Schools® summer and afterschool programs use evidence-based literacy and culturally enriched curriculum designed to serve marginalized students and empower and engage students through civil service. In addition, CDF Freedom Schools® have proven to increase literacy levels in as little as six weeks—all the while instilling a joy of learning.

One of the CDE’s priorities is that California students are ready for a global society and interconnected world. The CDE has prioritized reading by third grade and cultivating multilingualism to more fully engage with the rich and diverse cultures, heritages, and languages found in our state and throughout the world (https://www.cde.ca.gov/eo/in/documents/globalca2030report.pdf).

In an effort to jump-start these important efforts, the CDE is investing $1 million to pilot CDF Freedom Schools® as well as $5.75 billion for Expanded Learning Opportunities programs.

Districts can utilize evidence-based programs, including CDF Freedom Schools®, that are proven to improve literacy skills, avoid summer loss, and engage students in social action by accessing the resources on the CDE Expanded Learning Opportunities Program web page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ex/elopinfo.asp. We hope you will consider learning more about how these resources can improve student outcomes in your local educational agency.

For help exploring CDF Freedom Schools®, please contact Dr. Bonnie Garcia, Statewide Literacy Co-Director, Superintendent’s Initiatives Branch, at bogarcia@cde.ca.gov.

Sincerely,

Dr. Bonnie Garcia and Nancy Brynelson
Statewide Literacy Co-Directors

Tony Thurmond
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, August 02, 2023

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