FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Winthrop 
Rockefeller FoundationArkansas Delta Freedom Schools Collaborative Created
Winthrop Rockefeller Grant Supports Expansion of Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Initiative in Four Communities

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.  (April 19, 2010) – With a grant to the Boys, Girls, Adults Community Development Center, Inc. (BGACDC), the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF) is supporting the efforts of four Arkansas Delta communities to implement and expand the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools Initiative.  

The WRF Board of Directors voted in its March meeting to support the creation of an Arkansas Delta Freedom Schools Collaborative with a $400,000 two-year grant. The grant will enable the expansion of the Freedom Schools Initiative in the communities of Marvell, Elaine, Marianna, and Gould.  

The Arkansas Delta Freedom Schools Collaborative is a part of a national movement to provide high quality summer and school year programming for high need communities.  The project provides an integrated character development and academic improvement program as well as intergenerational summer employment opportunities at each site.

“While the four communities targeted for Freedom Schools implementation face a variety of challenges including high poverty rates, low or failing benchmark test scores, the closing of local schools, and lack of adequate youth development programs, these communities hold great promise,” said Dr. Sherece West, President and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.  “Developing programs which improve the academic and social skills of the youth in these communities will lead to improving high school graduation and college attendance rates and reducing poverty.”

The Freedom Schools model was developed in 1993 by the Children’s Defense Fund, a national advocacy organization that devotes particular attention to the needs of poor and minority children and those with disabilities.  WRF funded a pilot of the Summer Freedom Schools in Marianna in June 2006.

“Since 1995, more than 70,000 children have participated in CDF Freedom Schools across the country and more than 7,000 college students and 1,500 adult site coordinators and project directors have been trained to deliver this empowering model,” said Beatrice Shelby, Executive Director of BGACDC.  “Expanding Freedom Schools in the Delta will allow scholars, interns, parents, and communities in Arkansas to benefit from this successful model.”

About the Boys, Girls, Adults Community Development Center, Inc.
BGACDC is a local, autonomous 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, working to help youth and adults develop the qualities needed to become responsible citizens and leaders. It offers daily access to a broad range of programs in five core program areas: youth development, intergenerational community development, economic development, housing, and leadership development.   

About the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
For 35 years, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation has worked to make a difference by helping to build and sustain the organizations that serve and strengthen Arkansas. Through grantmaking and strategic partnerships, we are working even harder to help close the economic and educational gaps that leave too many Arkansas families in persistent poverty.  Working together, the needle can and must move from poverty to prosperity for all Arkansans.  For more information on the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, go to www.wrfoundation.org.


Contacts:
Angela Kremers
Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
(501) 918-4059
akremers@wrfoundation.org

Beatrice Shelby
Boys, Girls, Adults Community Development Center, Inc.
(870) 829-3274
bgacdc@suddenlinkmail.com