What We Do
Inspired and informed by the original Freedom Schools founded in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement, CFS takes an innovative approach to civic engagement, leadership development, and movement building. Our programs, resources and trainings invite young people and adult allies to study of the work of past movements, deepen their understanding of current social problems, build new coalitions and develop strategies for change.
Youth Leadership Development
Freedom Fellowship: CFS’s centerpiece program featuring interactive popular education classes, anti-oppression training, and leadership skill building. Following an intensive summer program, CFS provides ongoing support to Fellows as they carry out action campaigns aimed at effecting social change in their schools and communities.
Youth Leadership Board: A group of CFS youth alumni work to ensure that youth are an integral part of organizational programs and initiatives. Among other efforts, YLB members cofacilitate programs, recruit and interview new staff and Freedom Fellows, and represent CFS in a range of settings.
Technical Support: As requested, CFS provides resources, consultation and facilitation for youth groups and youth development professionals.
Training and Organizing
Rev Up: This four-day national training for adults provides best practices to support youth organizing, capacity building, and youth-led programming. Rev Up combines issue-based organizing, leadership and identity development, movement building history, and anti-oppression practices.
Understanding Adultism and Building Partnerships With Youth: This half-day seminar helps adult participants understand and deconstruct the internalization of adultism and provide tools and resources through which adults can learn how to be responsible and effective allies to youth.
Anti-Racism Training For White Allies: This workshop explores how white privilege is manifested in individuals and society. Participants receive practices and tools to interrupt racism and learn how to take action against racism as individuals and as a collective.
Professional Development Trainings: CFS staff and facilitators design and provide customized offerings for schools, organizations and institutions on a variety of topics including: developing anti-oppression practices, understanding adultism, youth-lead campaign development, and more.
Partnerships and Collaborations
Partnerships and Collaborations: Since our founding, CFS has collaborated with various social justice and liberatory organizations to support leadership development among youth and utilize education as a means to promote social change.
Public Programming: The Chicago Freedom School sponsors a range of public events, seminars and film screenings. These programs are provide community members with opportunities to learn about the history of social justice movements, explore relevant current events and to engage in educational efforts that support anti-oppression work and community building.
Social Justice Library: CFS maintains a comprehensive lending library at its offices for youth and adult activists and educators across the city. CFS Members have free access to all holdings.
The Chicago Freedom School is dedicated to promoting diversity and providing space that supports true equality by embracing all marginalized groups and identities, including but not exclusively people who identify as people of color, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, homeless, ex-offenders and those impacted by the juvenile justice system, and people with learning disabilities. We are committed to accommodating specific needs individuals may have accordingly and to providing facilities and materials that are accessible to all.