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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Children's Defense Fund

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Human Services

Mission: The Children's Defense Fund Leave No Child BehindĀ® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Over 12,500 children and youth attended a CDF Freedom School; Over 1,500 college-age young adults trained, mobilized and deployed as Servant Leader Interns (SLIs); Over 600 high school youth receiving college preparation, leadership development and college scholarship assistance through CDF's Beat the Odds program; Landmark national and state research studies such as State of America's Children; Engaging and training 500 young people, seminarians and faith leaders in CDF's annual Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute on Child Advocacy Ministry

Programs: The Children's Defense Fund is a child advocacy movement that fights every day for America's children, especially for those children and youth who experience the extraordinary challenges of poverty, disability and inequality. CDF's impact areas include: Freedom Schools - a nation-wide summer school and after-school education and empowerment program for children and youth. Reading score improvement and love of learning are key outcomes as children and youth are inspired that they can make a difference in their lives and in the life of their community and nation. Changing the Odds for Children: Fighting every day to educate and inform national, state and local policymakers and practitioners about effective, research-based practices that make a positive difference in a child's journey to successful adulthood. Generation Next - a 40 year commitment to developing the leaders of tomorrow through training and engagement with youth and young adults in social action, child advocacy and positive, non-violent social change.

Community Stories

40 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Not only is the location beautiful , but the work they do is very near and dear to my heart. All children might not have an advocate, but that doesn't mean that they don't deserve one, and that is exactly what they work to accomplish.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This program is super needed and it must continue the work it provides within communities. If we are trying to create equitable and meaningful change in our society. We must support and ensure our children have everything they need.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Children's Defense Fund is an organization that I would give my life to. With a focus on the children, their work has successfully advocated for one of the most marginalized and voiceless groups in this country - children. The Samuel Dewitt Proctor Institute taking place on the Alex Haley Farm every summer is the single most impactful event regarding supporting young people. Gathering the nations leading moral voices, the gathering offers an intergenerational mix of speakers, workshops, and learnings that can be applied in our various contexts. Along with the conference, Freedom Schools continue to build the capacity of young people and their communities. CDF is a national treasure.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Children's Defense Fund far exceeded my expectations as a place for seminarians to join in community with other church leaders in a spiritual and nurturing environment to learn about ministry. It provides a sacred space on holy grounds for renewal and transformation. It's a place we feel welcomed and at home.

Michael C.5

Donor

Rating: 5

Children's Defense Fund makes a big impact for children - both in their policy work and in the services they provide to children. Their work on children's education -- especially their Freedom Schools program -- is so important to those communities they serve. Their efforts for child safety, poverty programs and many others is truly remarkable.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am a professor in the School of Architecture at The University of Tennessee Knoxville. I visit the Haley Farm site of the Children's Defense fund with up to 60 architecture students each year as do colleagues that I teach with at UTK. We often engage other departments, including engineering, to accompany our field visits to Haley Farms CDF.

The Haley Farm site of the Children's Defense Fund offers an ideal way for students to learn about stewardship of historic architecture, and excellent contemporary architecture. Moreover, to learn architectural lessons in the context of this critically relevant and immensely productive non-profit is instrumental. Architecture students learn of their potential to support the work of non-profits, as professionals and as individual citizens. The tours that we receive every year share ways to help children and to advocate for children.

The college hosts guest from across the globe, and as hosts we are compelled to introduce guests to the CDF with a tour of Haley Farms. They are always inspired by the place and the CDF's mission.

I also attend public events at the library and chapel, for example Black History month poetry readings and apple picking, and our UT high school design camp, Design Matters, visits most summers.

This is an exceptionally important non-profit, and while my work is indirect and architecture focused, the CDF tours introduced me to numerous social equity sources that I use in my work.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The people working at the Children's Defense Fund do a really nice job. They are enjoying their work and love to share their knowledge and experience. As a volunteer at the Children's Defense fund, I enjoyed everyday working with the team as they are engaged for a great cause. They contribute to the wellbeing of the children by working hard on projects.

Jake M.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Welcoming, helpful, mission-oriented. A great staff culture, primed for collaboration, and making the world better.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am so thankful for CDF's commitment to being an unwavering voice for vulnerable children, and for training the future generations of advocates to be strong commited leaders. I have been involved with Freedom Schools and the Proctor Institute and am always impressed with the enthusiasm brought to the work and the level of expertise the organization brings.

Shilpa J.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

So grateful for CDF and the pioneering work of Marion Wright Edelman. What could be more important in these times than protecting children and supporting them to thrive? Thanks to the wonderful space at Alex Haley Farm as well -- such a gift to non-profit organizations and movements like ours to do vital connecting, healing, and community-building work.

Previous Stories
4

Client Served

Rating: 5

CDF came to our rescue a few months ago, and was an incredible host for the 5th annual Southern Leadership Jam, when our site cancelled last minute on us. CDF's warm and friendly staff, and incredible dedication, made a HUGE difference. They worked tirelessly with us to make it work -- hosting us so generously, working things out with the food and catering, helping meet our budget -- they gave us so many wonderful gifts. Thank you CDF/Haley Farm! Y'all are AMAZING!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've worked with CDF for the last 3 years with the Freedom Schools program. It has been a wonderful experience every year. I recommend the program and all other programs CDF offers to our communities.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

This is a wonderful organization with a purpose that truly serves the children and future leaders of our community.

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

CDF-MN is deeply committed to improving the lives and futures of disadvantaged children.
This is accomplished by raising awareness of health and education disparities, supporting parents and care takers and continuous advocacy legislatively and in the community by a staff that is very focused, hard working and successful.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My personal experience with the Children's Defense Fund has always been positive. The individuals involved in the program have all been caring, peaceful individuals.

I was first made aware of Children's Defense Fund in graduate school. We were required to read State of America's Children Handbook and support the handbook with peer reviewed research. Through this activity I was made aware of how prevalent poverty is for children who are minority, children with disabilities, and children that live in at-risk conditions. When I first became an instructor, I incorporate the CDF website and video clips into my course on Family System to bring awareness of the impact of poverty on the development and well-being of children.

A few years later when I became involved as a board member for my state affiliate professional association, I was in charge of planning the annual conference. I reached out to Janet Wolf and asked her to serve as a key note speaker for our annual conference. She spoke on Cradle to Prison Pipeline and brought with her leaders from the CDF Freedom School to speak as well. The presentation was extremely moving and unforgettable. It was also during this time that Janet mentioned she would like to begin a recycling and container gardening program at Haley Farms.

A few years later, I was asked by my director to write a Center Stage Proposal. I knew I wanted to bring Mrs. Marion Wright Edelman to our campus. Bringing her to campus provided an opportunity for the students and faculty of TTU to hear first hand from someone who has devoted her life to improve conditions and wellbeing for all children and especially for children in poverty, children with disabilities and children who are minority.

Other ways I have been involved with the CDF is taking students to visit Haley Farm and hear Kenneth Libby speak of the work of CDF at Haley Farm and learn of the programming held at the facility. While implementing the Women' s Leadership Initiative grant, colleagues and I arranged to take the students to Haley Farm for a retreat. It was also the perfect place to begin working on the advocacy project that was a requirement of the initiative. The students had a wonderful time, loved networking with Ken Libby and Janet Wolf.

This academic year we will work with CDF on a faculty research grant entitled Train the Trainer: Addressing Food Insecurity with Container Gardening. In September of 2017, we conducted the pilot study and plans are to implement the full program with Ella Baker Freedom School Leader in 2018.

To me CDF is dedicated to making a change in the lives of children. This is accomplished by awareness and by action. When you improve the lives of children, you are impacting the lives of families and improving society.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The Children's Defense Fund continually works to improve the overall health and well-being of our community by concentrating on our community's future-the children. Many efforts are devoted to achieving this goal, including targeted programs designed to meet the educational, cultural, and civic needs of all children in Marlboro County.

4

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a parent and supporter of the Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools program. My child attended the summer program for many years. She loved the energy, the college interns, the enrichment, and THE BOOKS! I saw her love of reading improve and her confidence improve. The program is magnetic and I love it! We look forward to each summer because of the CDF Freedom Schools Programs! We still have the books she got to bring home and keep, each week of the program.

CDF is making a difference and changing lives, one child at a time. I'm a witness. My family and I will be forever indebted to CDF for how the Freedom Schools program changed my daughter's life.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I'm an MSW child advocate and rely on the Children's Defense Fund for the latest news and actions needed to support federal policy that is responsive to the needs of children and families. Their direct programming for children and spiritual resources are impactful and inspiring. CDF is an indispensable leader and stalwart in the field of child advocacy.

3 Emily M.1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Amazing organization with strong mission and social justice warriors for employees.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Great organization! CDF is the voice for the children in need whom struggle with a disability, discrimination, poverty, and lack of education. Many children and families benefit from this organization and the amazing and caring staff are willing to make this happen.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The Children's Defense Fund is always willing to work with the local teachers to provide a professional place for our events. In addition, the staff is friendly and makes sure we are always well cared for. While using their facilities, they always tell us of the great things their organization does.