Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools

Rooted in the American Civil Rights Movement and the courageous efforts of college students to make a difference, the ECNC CDF Freedom Schools, are offered each summer.  The program serves children and youth ages 5 – 18 and facilitates reading skills and the development of positive attitudes toward learning.  It also focuses on the cultivation of self-esteem, cultural identity, and connecting families to local resources. Conducted in an energetic learning environment with high expectations for success, the core belief of the instructional model is that all children are capable of achievement. 

HERO Elementary (STEM Program) 

The HERO Elementary program aims to give children ages 4 to 7 the tools to solve problems by thinking and acting like scientists to ignite their natural curiosity and empathy. The goals of the series are to:

  • Learn science through everyday situations and relationships.
  • Apply science inquiry practices, engineering design practices, and science content knowledge to solve meaningful problems in the world around them.
  • Interact with one another in ways that model the skills and processes of literacy and language, as well as developmentally appropriate social/emotional skills.
  • Use curiosity and active approaches to problem-solving, mirroring the active, playful, discovery-oriented lives of our viewers


Positive Actions for Student Success (P.A.S.S.) is an alternative to the out-of-school suspension rooted in restorative practice and evidenced-based social-emotional learning strategies. P.A.S.S. addresses disruptive behavior that violates the East Cleveland City Schools Code of Conduct and requires the scholar to be removed from school for a brief period. The duration of the P.A.S.S. assignment will vary between three and ten days, depending on the student's progress. At the conclusion of the program, it is anticipated that the scholar will have enhanced communication, self-management, and self-awareness skills, enabling him or her to develop positive relationships with peers and adults and to comprehend the relationship between their behavior and positive and negative consequences.