What does Akwaaba mean?

Akwaaba means welcome in the Twi language, spoken by the Akan People of Ghana. Like the proverbial Ghanaian hospitality, the Akwaaba Freedom School is a welcoming space for all children.

About AFS 

Faculty at the University of Florida College of Education have partnered with the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) to launch the Akwaaba Freedom School in Gainesville, Florida. Akwaaba Freedom School is one of over 150 Freedom Schools across the country that are sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund.

Program Dates: June 10th – July 19th, 2024  (Monday – Friday from 8AM – 3PM)

A student and teacher reading a book.

Six weeks of reading enrichment

Freedom Schools are a 6-week summer reading enrichment program that focuses on students using their agency to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, country, and world with hope, education, and action.

Two Akwaaba Freedom School Students

No cost programming

Modeled after the 1964 Mississippi Freedom summer project, Freedom Schools offer NO COST programming to communities where enrichment programs are scarce or cost prohibitive. Freedom Schools offer a fun, high-quality reading curriculum, extracurricular activities, field trips, as well as meals and snacks.

Students sitting at a table together.

Research-backed results

Research shows that participation in a Freedom School program positively impacts the students and their families. Data shows that 81% of scholars avoid summer learning loss, 87% of parents saw increased confidence in their children, and 87% of parents were interested in engaging in social action with their children.

AFS Program Overview

Literacy Program for Scholars

The Akwaaba Freedom School believes in providing engaging learning experiences through the CDF integrated reading curriculum (IRC). The IRC focuses on culturally and linguistically sustaining literature and is designed to support reading skills for all students and stop summer learning loss. It creates an engaging learning environment through culturally relevant stories where scholars see themselves and their cultural history represented.

Program Dates

The Akwaaba Freedom School program runs from June 10th – July 19th, 2024. The program is on weekdays (Monday – Friday) from 8AM – 3PM.

Enrichment Activities

The Akwaaba Freedom School believes in providing culturally relevant activities through project-based learning experiences that support the scholars’ social-emotional learning and academic achievement. Scholars engage in activities related to health and wellness, athletics, the arts, and STEM.

Community Engagements

The Akwaaba Freedom Schools believes that scholars should embrace their cultural history and have the power to create positive change in the world. Freedom Schools scholars participate in book discussions and social action projects that address topics such as fairness, voting rights, education access, and conflict resolution. In addition, each year in July, CDF Freedom Schools scholars across the country unite for the National Day of Social Action where they advocate for policies that support underserved children.

Field Trips

The Akwaaba Freedom School believes that learning is not an experience that is isolated within a school or classroom. Thus, the scholars are taken on weekly field trips to encourage them to learn about and engage with the broader community.

Parent Workshops

The Akwaaba Freedom School believes that scholars should not be the only ones served by the Freedom School program. Parent and family engagement is an essential component of the program. Families are invited to weekly meetings and encouraged to volunteer as guest readers, field trip chaperones, and to join in other community activities.

Professional Development

The Akwaaba Freedom School provides professional development for all staff members through the Ella Baker Training program. The Ella Baker Training program helps create the next generation of servant leaders and child advocates.

Community Partners

Akwaaba Freedom School is sponsored by the Collaborative for Equity in Education, and is being funded by the Children’s Trust of Alachua County. Akwaaba Freedom school is also supported by a host of community leaders, volunteers, and an advisory board. 

Collaborative for equity in education

Akwaaba Freedom School is sponsored by the Collaborative for Equity in Education housed within the University of Florida College of Education. The Collaborative for Equity in Education promotes research, teaching, and programming designed to both remove barriers to success and provide fruitful opportunities for underserved groups

Children’s Trust of Alachua County

The 2022 Freedom school is being funded by the Children’s Trust of Alachua County. The Children’s Trust supports community programs that enable all youth and their families to thrive through equitable access to opportunities.

Alachua County Public Schools

Alachua County Public Schools

Alachua County Public Schools is a public school district serving Alachua County in North Central Florida. It serves more than 29,000 students at 64 schools and centers.

Alachua County Public Schools

P.K. Yonge Developmental research shcool

P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School’s mission is to design, test, and disseminate innovations in education through serving a diverse K-12 community. P.K. Yonge students are positioned to be creative, dedicated, and resilient learners who embrace the power of diverse ideas, talents, and cultures to improve our world.

Scholar Application

The Akwaaba Freedom School application process is first-come, first-serve. Scholars from Kindergarten to 8th grade are encouraged to apply.