In California this year, more than 1,200 scholars are participating in the six-week summer literacy and cultural enrichment program. Many of these children will attend sites in the Sacramento area hosted by the Roberts Family Development Center.
This is the sixth year Roberts Family Development Center and its founders, Derrell and Tina Roberts, have been partnering with Children’s Defense Fund-California to run the program. Enrollment has grown from 160 students in the first year to almost 900 during one summer. This summer, they will have six sites serving 640 youth in first through 8th grades from three Sacramento area school districts.
Derrell Roberts said in the beginning it was a challenge raising the money to host the program. But securing support got much easier after realizing improved reading scores over summer months, increased parent engagement, and positive ethnic identity benefits that are challenging for many districts.
“But through Freedom Schools and our organization, that is what we do,” he said.
Roberts works with three Sacramento area school districts Twin Rivers Unified School District, Sacramento City Unified School District, and Robla School District. Over the years, he has had many district and school officials come visit their sites and participate as guest readers. Many stay to observe classroom lessons and activities. It has been a positive and beneficial partnership.
“We are helping them meet their goals as well as increasing or maintaining academic scores and focus in the summer months,” he said.
CDF Freedom Schools sites operated by Roberts Family Development Center have also helped steer qualified, engaging and diverse teachers to their local schools. Over the years, at least seven CDF Freedom School-trained educators also known as Servant Leader Interns have gained employment in the Sacramento area districts.
Prior to partnering with Children’s Defense Fund-CA to host the CDF Freedom Schools program, Roberts Family Development Center ran their own summer program that was successful but the Roberts were looking for something more.
“We wanted a partnership that would move us to another level, one with community involvement and social action,” Roberts said.
And that’s exactly what they got.
For more information on CDF Freedom Schools sites in California, visit our website here.