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Call Us: 865-333-0645 -or- 408-806-9467  /  /  2184 N Ridge Drive, Jefferson City, TN 37760


  CDF Freedom Schools®

  2018 Assessment Data

  • Most children, 60%, improved in their 
    instructional reading level

  • Many children, 25%, maintained their instructional reading level

  • Children participated in social action, demonstrated self-empowerment, developed conflict resolution

  • skills, and were more engaged in academic activities 

  CDF Freedom Schools®

  2017 Assessment Data

  • More than half, 56%, improved their 
    instructional reading level

  • Many children, 29%, maintained their instructional reading level

  • Significant improvement in children's attitudes toward education, social action, ethnic identity, solving social problems, & confidence in their ability to make a difference.

  • 90% of Parents perceived increase in child's confidence in reading & their parenting skills.

CDF Freedom Schools®

2016 Assessment Data

  • Most children, 51%, improved their 
    instructional reading level

  • Many children, 32%, maintained their
    instructional reading level

  • Significant improvement in children's attitudes toward education, social action, and ethnic identity.

  • 70% of Parents perceived increase in child's confidence in reading & their parenting skills.

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The Freedom School Story

The Children’s Defense Fund’s (CDF) Freedom Schools® program is a six-week long summer enrichment program with 3 hours of reading per day. The program helps children fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem, cultivates positive attitudes toward learning, and reduces summer reading loss—one of the major challenges affecting poor and working-class children. With the help of a researched-based curriculum that is based on culturally responsive books that reflect their own images and caring and supportive college students that serve as teachers, Freedom Schools successfully address summer reading loss and a related decrease in students’ motivation to read.


In addition to offering high-quality academic enrichment, CDF Freedom Schools supports children and families in the areas of parent and family involvement, civic engagement and social action, intergenerational leadership development, and health -- physical, mental, and nutritional. With the support of caring adults and communities we will aid our children’s successful journey into adulthood.

The scholars we serve at the CDF Freedom Schools are primarily children who are members of economically disadvantaged families. Attending our school is FREE for all families and children 5-18 are eligible. We create a fun learning environment in every classroom where the child-to-teacher ratio is 10:1.

The teachers at Freedom Schools, our next generation of leaders, are college students and recent college graduates. We invest in them by providing them training at the annual Ella Baker Child Policy Training Institute that is held at the CDF Alex Haley Farm in Clinton, Tenn. and at facilities in Knoxville, Tenn. We call our teachers Servant Leader Interns (SLIs) and the knowledge and experience they receive at the Training Institute prepares them well to teach the program and advocate for children.

Our site in East Knoxville will host 60 scholars, 6 Servant Leader Interns, and a Site Coordinator. Our Blount County site will have the same number of scholars and staff. The site at Maynard Elementary will host 50 scholars, 5 Servant Leader Interns, and a Site Coordinator. One Project Director will be responsible for all three sites. Scholars will have two meals and one snack per day, one field trip per week, and a variety of afternoon activities including robotics, STEM, money management, debate, public speaking, physical fitness, and art.


Denise J. Dean is passionate about and committed to the betterment of children. She uses her corporate experience and elementary school teacher training in service to creating a high-quality educational and developmental experience for your children. 

Supporting Servant Leader Intern: 

Kiara Blain is dedicated to the Freedom Schools movement and overall education of children. This will be her third summer with East Tennessee Freedom Schools. She is a rising senior majoring in Human Ecology with a concentration in Merchandising and Design. Kiara is very excited to be back in Knoxville with the Freedom Schools family and looks forward to another amazing summer!

Freedom Schools Literacy Curriculum Consultant: 

Evetty Satterfield has championed youth for over 10 years! She holds a Special Ed degree from Alabama A&M University and a Masters in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. She has served in various capacity with Children's Defense Fund Freedom School for a total of 9 years. She believes that the key to educating our scholars are educators who are able to love our kids unconditionally and remove any and every barrier for them to achieve success.

East Knoxville

Site Coordinator:

Matt Smith


Servant Leader Interns: 

Gabriella Chavarria is a Child Development and Learning major at Maryville College. Post graduation, she hopes to become a licensed social worker and continue to do work with local non-profits to make a difference in the community. In her free time, she enjoys reading and watching documentaries.

Sierra Cotham is excited to serve her second year as an SLI for Freedom Schools this summer. She is a senior pursuing her Elementary Education degree at Lee University and loves the many opportunities she has had to serve the children in the community.  

Neyasha Honorable is a rising senior at East Tennessee State University, where I am studying Sports Management with a minor in Entrepreneurship. In my free time I enjoy reading, running and exploring new things. I have a passion for kids and I look forward to a great summer.

Jazmyne Page is a recent graduate from Southern Adventist University where she earned a Master's in School Counseling. Helping children, teens and young adults has always been a passion of hers and she is excited to be working at Freedom Schools this summer to fulfill that passion. In a world that is becoming more and more technologically advanced, she has always enjoyed reading a nice hard cover book. There is nothing more satisfying than laying by the fire when it's raining with a good book in hand. 

Clinton Ricks is a graduate of the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a B.A. in creative writing. He is returning for a second year as an S.L.I. Clinton enjoys serving his community, an engaging read, and a good slice of homemade chess pie. 


Site Coordinator:

Monique Reed is recent graduate of the University of Tennessee. Her field of study is speech pathology and audiology. She plans on pursuing her Master’s degree from University of Memphis in speech pathology this coming fall. Monique's favorite hobby is dancing and she enjoys family time. 


Servant Leader Interns: 

James Baines recently moved from Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio Design and Production. In his free time, James enjoys making music. He plays the Tuba, Trombone, and the Bass. In the future, James plans to work in post-production for the entertainment industry.

Elexus Franklin is a native of Memphis, TN. She graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minor in Africana Studies. Elexus is passionate about diversity, inclusion, and positive mental health. She hopes to obtain various experiences throughout life that guide her path and lead to her purpose while serving the Black community. 

Kaelynn Stewart graduated from the University of Tennessee in May 2019 with their Bachelor's degree in Creative Activism with an Emphasis in Writing. With aspirations to become an author, Kaelynn's mission post-graduation is to represent the people of Appalachia with the compassion and nuance often absent from mainstream depictions of the region. In her free time she enjoys writing poetry and cooking.

Blount County

Site Coordinator:

Caroline Tate 

Was born and raised in Alcoa, TN.  She is an Alumni of Alcoa City Schools and attended State Technical Institute of Knoxville and Pellissippi State Community College. Caroline has worked in the banking industry and now works in the Alcoa School City System working with student learning intervention teams as well as curriculum planning and classroom instruction. Caroline has been married to Curtis D. Tate for the last 35 years and has two sons and one grandson. Caroline loves working with young people and enjoys watching them learn and being an instrument in bringing that learning about. 


Servant Leader Interns: 

Caleb Moore is a rising junior attending East Tennessee State University, where he's studying to be a K-5 Educator. His goal is to earn his degree, move into an urban area and teach young children. Caleb loves reading online articles on sports, music, and culture. He also loves traveling and watching movies. 

Olivia Willey is a rising senior at the University of Tennessee. She is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Child and Family Studies. After graduation, Olivia plans to earn a Masters degree in Social Work which she will then use to become a Marriage and Family therapist. She believes that education has the ability to improve almost all problem areas of society, therefore she is extremely passionate about working with the East TN Freedom Schools for the first time this summer.

Catherine Siravantha is a graduate from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a B.A. in Psychology and in Cinema Studies.  She has done previous advocacy work with women’s reproductive health initiatives internationally and is excited to continue this passion for advocacy through CDF Freedom Schools.  Through serving this year as a Servant Leader Intern, she hopes to foster connections with and support this year’s scholars.

Research Team: Dr. Chonika Coleman-King, Dr. Susan Groenke, Dr. Brittany Anderson, Dr. Jo Lynn Cunningham, Kay Tate, MacKenzie Milon, and Erica Echols



 Our Staff