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Rev. Reggie Blount and Rev. Virginia Lee of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary are heading an effort to establish a summer and after-school program in the Fifth Ward, using the “Freedom School” model developed by the Children’s Defense Fund.

“The six-week summer program helps children fall in love with reading and makes learning fun. It has proven to curb summer learning loss and help close achievement gaps,” according to the Children’s Defense Fund. The program will be offered free to underserved children in Evanston in grades 3-5.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Evanston community and the Children’s Defense Fund to serve children and families in our community, especially in the Fifth Ward,” said Rev. Lee.

Rev. Blount added, “This empowering program makes a difference in the lives of children by offering opportunities for summer learning and enrichment, healthy meals and snacks, and gives them hope for a better future.”

The Freedom School was initially planned to be at Ebenezer AME Church in partnership with Rev. Patricia Efiom, who was until recently the pastor of Ebenezer. Because of this recent change, it is not clear if the Freedom School will be established there, or at another church in the Fifth Ward.

It is possible that summer internships will be offered to local college students and young adults to mentor children and teach the integrated reading curriculum.