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2011 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Chicago Freedom School

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Student Services

Mission: The mission of the Chicago Freedom School (CFS) is to create new generations of independent thinking young people who use their unique experiences and power to create a just world. Our vision is in the spirit of the original freedom schools in Mississippi in the 1960s, with CFS serving as a catalyst for young people across Chicago to discover their own power to make change – not only for themselves, but also for their communities and the world.

Results: All of our organizational resources are allocated to support the leadership development of marginalized young people. Over 90% of Freedom Fellowship participants and alumni at the Chicago Freedom School are from low-income neighborhoods and 100% of them identify as people of color. Adult allies trained at CFS include professional youth organizers, public and private school educators, program directors at houses of workshop, and social service providers.

Programs: CFS provides training and education opportunities for youth and adult allies to develop leadership skills through the lens of civic action and through the study of the history of social movements and their leaders.

Community Stories

16 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I first learned about the Chicago Freedom School (hereinafter CFS) while an undergraduate. As a former public policy debate champion turned high school debate instructor, CFS' mission quickly caught my attention, and I knew that I wanted to get involved with the organization. It blends civic engagement and action through teaching about past social movements and making connections to current situations. It does so by engaging inner-city youth in discussions that lead them to think more critically and analytically. Youth develop a sense of individuality, while learning to collaborate with the community at-large, in addition to a sense of purpose and power that enables them to effectively translate ideas into actions.

Review from Guidestar

Genesis G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love this place, it's warm and welcoming. The minute you walk through the door (front or back, haha) you feel like your home! This place always has something going on, between meetings and open-events, its a place where youth and adults can come together with no boundaries. I love this place, it really is like a second home to me.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began to look at life differently thanks to Chicago Freedom School in 2009. Our program was all the way until May 2010. In our summer program, we received the chance to learn about oppression and build leadership skills. I never knew how these skills would develop throughout my outside life. In school I began to challenge my teachers and surroundings without even thinking about it. Being a liberator became my priority.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I became aware of Chicago Freedom School in late 2008 when I was able to sell my expertise in typesetting and design forms and documents for the organization. The staff made me feel welcome from the moment they met me but what really impressed me was the history of the organization and their commitment to the youth they serve. The organization practices what they preach. A source of inspiration for kids whether impoverished, misunderstood, minority, LGBT, etc. I am still very impressed by the entire staff and Mia Henry's dedication and drive.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Chicao Freedom School has blessed me with the experience of learning about history of people of color and the importance of social justice. The Chicago Freedom School has provided me with a safe environment and a support system I can count on whether I am in Chicago or away at school. The staff is a group of sincere people who care about educating the young and old about the injustices of the world and giving youth the confidence to change the world a little bit at a time.

I love this organization and I am forever indebted to what this organization has given me.

Review from Guidestar

Cristina R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became a Freedom Fellow in 2009 at the Chicago Freedom School. Through the trainings and the guests speakers I gained a lot of knowledge. I developed skills like, leadership skills and public speaking skills. I learned about issues that affected my community. In this place, I was able to talk to other youth and adults and I learned about oppression. This opened my eyes to reality and now I am able to step up to issues that make me feel uncomfortable.

Review from Guidestar

Jasmine T.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Chicago Freedom School Has changed my life and the way I view things in such a positive way. It gave me the chance to build good relationship with adults that I would usually have with my parents only. Here I feel safe. Here at Chicago Freedom School the world is mine to bring peace to. I have done many things that a youth without the chance wouldn't do such as The Freedom Rides, learning about oppression. I'm truly thank that i was involved and still am because I don't know where I would be. There is no event or emotion I regret.

Review from Guidestar

Karlah A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

i was a 2009 freedom fellow at the Chicago freedom school, and now i am part of the youth leadership board. i was a very extremely shy person afraid of speaking up for what i believed in, and after taking part of this my views of the world have changed. i am no longer afraid of speaking my mind and saying whats right. i have conducted teen dating violence workshops to about 250 youth, and plan to do it this year again, the old me before this great opportunity would never in a million years thought i would be doing this. I have learned so much thanks to the freedom school, they are people who truly care about youth. they offer a space where we can learn to change the world little by little, it doesn't matter what gender you are, how young you are or what race you are.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

CFS is the best place for youth to go and just get away from the day. Being a freedoom fellow and a memeber of the Youth leadership board is jus wonderful The adults are ot like any adults you would ever meet, they are kind and dont judge like everyone else.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering on and off with CFS for a few years now, and from my experience it is one of the most comprehensive and effective social justice organizations I have come across. CFS has a broad vision that includes all levels of antioppression thought. From that basis they are able create extremely effective programs that target larger-scale, long-term systemic change through popular education. They exemplify what it means to be dedicated to dismantling the imbroglio of oppression, and they do it with loving kindness.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began volunteering with CFS before all of its programs were up and running. Even in those early stages of its development, I learned how powerful grassroots organizing can be, especially when that organizing focuses on bridging the gaps between youth and adults. When CFS was still just an idea, young people were not just visible, but empowered to help make decisions that impacted the direction of the organization!

Since 2007, youth have continued to play a vital role in the functioning of CFS. As volunteers around the office, as representatives of CFS at national conferences, and as board members, the youth who are involved with CFS demonstrate that they are capable leaders.

I have been to several trainings hosted by CFS, including their adult ally training, which I believe the youth and youth organizer have begun making a must--have training for not-for-profits and grass roots organizations.

I could continue, but time does not permit me to do so. To sum up, CFS is an excellent organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

There should be something like a Chicago Freedom School available to every child in the country because it embraces young people and guides them on a justice-based path of learning. I've seen CFS youth bring a room to a steady buzz of excitement because they stand up to hold people accountable, or talk about a certain campaign. I've also seen CFS youth quite a room with their poerty and insight. In my work as a media and environmental justice activist I've worked with many youth organizations and collaborated with dozens of groups. Specifically, a good portion of this collaboration is working with the group to create a story or piece of media that is distributed at the community radio station I'm based at (Radio Arte). In this case I interviewed staff members and youth who were preparing to attend the US Social Forum in Detroit, a gathering of over 20,000 activists/artists/educators. i was amazed at the level of care given to the planning of how ach youth would have would experience the forum. I walked around the space between interviews and found every single radical/critical/amazing book and film I've ever come across. In that moment I know that this space was a place for transformation and guidance.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Chicago Freedom School is a space unlike any I've come in contact with. The work the young people of the various Chicago communities do are vital to social justice in this city. I've seen first hand transformations in the young people and adult allies alike.

Review from Guidestar

Karen D.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Chicago Freedom School provides youth with the tools to create social change. It remains true to the legacy of the freedom schools founded during the civil rights movement. At the same time, it is committed to implementing evaluation standards to continually improve.

Michael H.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

The work that the Chicago Freedom School is doing is of extreme importance and urgency. Helping youth to develop the skills to become active and questioning members of society is a task that few are willing to do. The training sessions that CFS offers are trainings that I feel are integral to a more well rounded and ongoing education (in people of all ages). I hope that the Chicago Freedom School is able to thrive and expand, as it is a much needed organization; not only in Chicago, but really everywhere in this nation (and world).

Frank E.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Freedom school provides incredible services to youth in Chicago. They're providing a base for movements of the future to thrive and grow. That, and they take really good care of the folks that work with them, ensuring everyone is well recognized and supported.

Review from Guidestar