This time of year we would normally be featuring stories and photos from our CDF Freedoms Schools® sites across the state. But our six-week summer literacy and cultural enrichment program was interrupted this year for many of our partners because of the global pandemic. However, a few, like Roberts Family Development Center (RFDC) in Sacramento and Success in Challenges in Long Beach, went above and beyond to make sure students were still engaged during these difficult times.
Roberts Family Development Center served more than 300 kindergarten through 12th grade students. The scholars participated in daily Harambeeincluding cheers and chants and a read-aloud guestbefore going into their virtual classrooms for Integrated Reading Curriculum. Afternoon activities included dancing, boxing, cooking, science and entrepreneurship. The activities were mostly virtual but students were invited to participate in a few of the classes in-person, once a week. Both of the Sacramento and Long Beach sites were able to participate in the National Day of Social Action which focused this year on voter registration.
Jacquie Kendricks, program director for RFDC, said this summer presented a unique opportunity but the Servant Leader Interns and scholars rose to the occasion. “The kids were so excited,” she said. “We knew that they would be engaged but the excitement level was great.”
We want to thank all our CDF Freedom Schools partners for their continued commitment to the program and we look forward to next summer.
CDF Beat the Odds Scholars Overcoming Challenging Times
This global pandemic has made life even more challenging for many of our children and families. Despite these difficult times, many of our Children’s Defense Fund Beat the Odds® (BTO) youth are doing what they have always done: overcoming life’s obstacles and achieving their goals.
- LaShanee King (BTO Class of 2006), graduated UC Davis Law school and studying for the California bar
- Britany Collins (BTO Class of 2012); graduated in May from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia with a Master’s degree in Human Services Counseling with a focus on Parenting and Child/Adolescent Development
- Elizabeth Lopez (BTO Class of 2015), just completed an intense one-year program to earn a masters in Educational Studies with an emphasis in childhood literacy from Loyola Marymount University. Elizabeth currently teaches second grade in Los Angeles Unified School District and has a multiple subject credential, bilingual credential and a literacy certificate
- Cornesha Hunter (Class of 2016), graduated in June with Bachelor of Science degree in biology and is a San Francisco State University pre-Health Professions Post-Baccalaureate candidate for the fall
- Kimberly Abarca (BTO Class of 2018), was selected as a Edward A. Bouchet Fellow to conduct research regarding diplomatic relations between the U.S and Latin America during times of heightened conflict for the pursuit of democracy
We congratulate our CDF Beat the Odds recipients, past and present, on their accomplishments.
CDF-CA''s Newest Team Member
We would like to introduce Milinda “Mili” Kakani, CDF-CA’s newest team member. Mili joins the CDF-CA team as senior policy associate on the youth justice team. Based in Los Angeles, Mili’s work will focus on increasing opportunity and momentum for systemic and cultural reforms regarding LA County’s treatment of youth, particularly justice-involved youth.
Before joining CDF-CA, Mili was a supervising attorney for Public Counsel’s Transition Age Youth Project. In that capacity, she represented system-involved youth, supervised a team of attorneys and social workers, and supported coalition work addressing the collateral consequences that come with having contact with the foster and juvenile court systems. Prior to that, she worked at the Bronx Defenders’ Family Defense Project, where she represented parents working to keep their families together and worked to address the disproportionate representation of minorities dealing with the foster system. Previous to law school, Mili was a member of the New York Teaching Fellows Program and spent two years teaching 6th graders in the Bronx. Mili earned her law degree from University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 2008. She graduated from University of California, Berkeley in 2002.
Last week, in collaboration with partners, we launched a powerful #ChooseUsNotBillionaires Week of Action to demand that Governor Newsom and California elected officials ensure a just economic recovery that reverses historical inequities and invests in a future that benefits all Californians. They have until August 31 to make critical decisions regarding California’s response to address the harm that this pandemic has caused.
Over the last several months, many of our organizations—community groups, unions, policy groups and philanthropy—have been meeting to strategize about how to unite and go on offense against the narrative of austerity so that we can advance transformative solutions that center Black and Brown people and allow our communities to thrive.
Our week of action, which will run through Friday, will focus on youth power and housing; safe schools; public health and safety; immigration inclusion; essential workers; and tax billionaires and invest in our recovery. Help us by contacting your legislator here and let them know that the rich shouldn’t get richer while Black, Brown and Indigenous working families are deprived of resources.
LA Dodgers Step Up to End Racial Inequity
In a show of solidarity, Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation launched a special online auction featuring game-used jerseys with Major League Baseball’s Black Lives Matter patch from opening day. The net proceeds will support organizations like CDF-CA working to end racial inequity and to improve the lives of boys and men of color across the state. The auction, which also includes additional Dodger memorabilia, will end at 5 p.m. on Aug. 9.
Los Angeles Dodger players released a powerful message, speaking out against racial injustice in America and committing to using their platforms to amplify the voices of social justice organizations on the ground in Los Angeles. The players will also match funds raised from the “In This Together” special edition t-shirts to benefit organizations working to combat systemic racism and racial inequities. Order your special edition shirt here.
Clayton Kershaw, who recently put out a statement in support of Black Lives Matter, bookended the message which features nine additional players—Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Kiké Hernández, Gavin Lux, Joc Pederson, A.J. Pollock, Ross Stripling, Justin Turner and Alex Wood.
“For centuries, the Black community has lived in a different America. Instead of addressing racism, inequality, and injustice, many of us simply look away,” Clayton Kershaw said in a statement. “Silence is no longer an option. I’m fighting for my teammates, their families, and their communities.”
Supporting Youth and Families During Crisis
We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our corporate sponsors for helping Children’s Defense Fund-CA support the children and families we work with amid this global pandemic. During a time of uncertainty and hardship it is nice to know that we are able to count on our partners. The following provided youth and families essential items during this COVID crisis:
- H&M: Towels, sheets, sweatshirts and other items.
- Mad Engine: More than 1,000 washable fabric face masks for both adults and children as part of their One Million Masks campaign.
- The Company Store: Dorm room essentials like, comforters, blankets, robes, pajamas, backpacks, and more for our recent CDF Beat the Odds graduates.
- Guaranteed Income Would Help Close California''s Racial Wealth Gap
- California Should Support Immigrants By Expanding Tax Credit Eligibility
- CDF Freedom Schools Scholars Marching for Justice
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