About Program


The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. The CDF Freedom Schools model incorporates the totality of the Children’s Defense Fund’s mission by fostering environments that support children and young adults to excel and believe in their ability to make a difference.

In 2013, it’s first year of operation, Rockin’ Cool Freedom School served 46 children in Kindergarten through fifth grade at one location; Northridge Middle School. As we come into our ninth year of Freedom School, we have served over 500 scholars and their families, and in 2021 our expectation is that we will serve up to 130 students at three different locations around central and northwest Licking County

The target population is children who have completed Kindergarten through 8th grade in the Northridge Local, Johnstown-Monroe, and Newark City School Districts and surrounding areas. We give priority to students who are recommended by teachers and principals because of an academic, socio-economic or emotional need. The goal of the program is to help high-risk children stem summer learning loss, fall in love with reading, and to teach them that they can make a difference. Additionally, the program trains and develops young adult leaders who deliver the program to the scholars.

The day begins with breakfast and a morning group gathering called “Harambee” where scholars (the children) and staff sing a motivational song, hear a story read by a community leader, and perform various cheers and dancing. Each morning the scholars participate in an integrated reading curriculum in groups of 10 and then have a quiet individual reading time (Drop Everything And Read). The afternoons are filled with games, crafts, science projects, field trips, and service projects all centered on the theme of building the scholars to believe that they can make a positive difference in the world around them. The program will run for six weeks in the summer, from June 14 through July 23, from 8 am – 3 pm each day, Monday through Friday (except Monday, July 5)..

Meals being provided in Licking County for the Summer of 2020:

As summer fast approaches, plenty of food is still available for kids through various local agencies, including the Salvation Army, Licking County Job and Family Services, and the Licking County Library. 

The Salvation Army is participating in the Summer Food Service Program, which started Monday. Free meals are provided to all children up to age 18, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, at the following sites:

  • The Salvation Army, 250 E. Main St., Newark
  • Shiloh Baptist Church, 383 Washington St., Newark
  • Carson Elementary School, 549 E. Main St., Newark
  • Coble Park in Little Texas, Ohio Street, Newark
  • Newark Townhomes, 11 Daugherty Circle, Newark.
  • Watersedge Church, 4852 Walnut Road, Buckeye Lake
  • Miller Park, 3 Crestview Drive, Utica
  • Wilson Middle School, 805 W. Church St., Newark
  • Trail West Apartments, 1946 Cherry Valley Road, Newark
  • Canal Park, 119 W. Cumberland St., Hebron.
  • YES Club, 100 E. Church St., Newark

Every Monday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Aug. 10, the Licking County Library is offering free summer meals for all eligible youth through age 18 at the downtown Newark location.

Meals are given on a first come, first served basis and are limited. Each child receives five breakfasts and five lunches. Youth or their caregivers can pick meals up in front of the main library doors.