Oakland Freedom Schools®

Closing the Achievement Gap
Academically underserved students from low socio-economic backgrounds face a widening achievement gap during the summer, particularly in reading proficiency. Lincoln's Oakland Freedom Schools® (OFS) level the playing field by providing culturally relevant summer literacy programming, which builds strong, literate, and empowered scholars and youth, and focuses on five essential components:

  • High Quality Academic Instruction: Delivering an integrated Reading Curriculum—meeting California educational literacy standards—in which books, activities, and field trips all relate to and reinforce a love for reading.
  • Inter-Generational Impact: Developing leaders from two generations—the youth served and the trained college students and recent graduates who teach and serve them.
  • Parent & Family Involvement: Providing family learning to strengthen skills for the healthy educational and social development of their children.
  • Social Action & Civic Engagement: Teaching youth to engage in community service and social justice advocacy.
  • Nutrition & Health: Building personal responsibility and skills for healthy living and choices.

The What & When
Lincoln's OFS is a six-week summer academic literacy and cultural enrichment program serving students, ages 5-18, which runs annually during June and July. With a 10:1 classroom ratio, the program provides a healthy breakfast, lunch, and snack, weekly field trips, and 150 minutes a day of literacy instruction. 

The Who & Where
Operating at sites with a high need in East and West Oakland, Lincoln serves between 60-75 scholars per site, recruiting primarily from feeder schools, surrounding neighborhoods, and throughout the district. Lincoln seeks to partner with additional schools in neighboring communities to provide this culturally rich summer literacy programming.

The How
Following 80 hours of program training and leadership development, our college-aged OFS staff deliver the culturally-integrated reading curriculum, which inspires a love of reading while strengthening children's confidence and sense of community. Additionally, we provide enrichment activities in STEM, dance, music, art, sports, and fitness activities, as well as educational field trips, parent education workshops, and community outreach events.

National Model
The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) developed and coordinated The Freedom Schools® program in 1995 and has since operated it as a national model, in addition to providing books and an integrated reading curriculum. More than 15,000 college students, young adults, and working professionals have been trained to deliver the powerful model serving more than 150,000 K-12 scholars.

Our Impact
Achievement Gap—Through our culturally relevant literacy curriculum, Lincoln's OFS addresses the widening summer achievement gap that disproportionately leaves students of color at a disadvantage.

Self-Esteem—Lincoln's OFS surrounds the curriculum with mental health supports to address cultural and racial self-image issues, which particularly impact the academic success of African-American children.

Cultural Relevance—African-American children often underutilize needed mental health services due to lack of access and cultural responsiveness from providers. Our culturally responsive staff provide supports, outreach, and engagement for parents, families, and the community to address this barrier to well-being and academic success.

Lincoln currently operates the CDF OFS in collaboration with the Oakland Unified School District and the City of Oakland.