Deaconess’ strategic plan calls for engaging local United Church of Christ congregations to support the Foundation’s child advocacy ministry.  In partnership with the largest child advocacy organization in the United States, the Children’s Defense Fund, Deaconess sponsors a network of CDF Freedom Schools®. CDF Freedom Schools provide meaningful engagement opportunities for congregations by placing them in proximity to the needs of children in order to inform faith-based advocacy. 


CDF Freedom Schools are intergenerational, culturally competent summer programs, built on literacy, leadership and social advocacy. The curriculum is rooted in the Civil Rights Movement’s Freedom Summer, and was originally conceived and proposed by Charles Cobb, a UCC college student.


Deaconess embraces the Freedom School intent of being a “movement building mechanism” and intends to advance it as such for area UCC congregations.


The seven-week program provides literacy building activities, empowerment, meals, snacks and activities, including field trips, at no charge to families. The CDF model also includes extensive testing and evaluation to measure academic progress.


The sites serve a total of 175 scholars recruited from Saint Louis Public Schools, Hazelwood and Webster Groves School Districts and the UCC congregations. Enrollment is free and open to all families.

2022 CDF Freedom Schools® Program Information

Please contact Deaconess Foundation with all inquiries/questions at or 314.436.8001.
Please do not contact the individual host sites.

Christ the King UCC

11370 Old Halls Ferry Rd.
Florissant, MO 63033

Deaconess Center
for Child Well-Being

1000 North Vandeventer Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63113

Peace United
Church of Christ

204 East Lockwood Ave.
Webster Groves, MO 63119

Saint John’s Church
(The Beloved Community)

4136 North Grand Blvd.
Saint Louis, MO 63107

Application period for 2022 is now closed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Interested in learning more?
Email CDF Freedom Schools
Volunteer with Us

Individuals and small groups are invited to join us to lead and/or assist with engaging activities during after-care from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at each of our four CDF Freedom Schools sites.

Call (314) 436-8001