Welcome to the Freire Schools! Each spring, we take time to celebrate our students, teachers, and all the extraordinary people who embody the words of our namesake, Paulo Freire: “Education is an act of love, and thus an act of courage.”
This year we are trying something new with our JOMO No-Show Fundraiser. Instead of gathering together, we are asking our friends to stay home on the night of June 10th and celebrate the important role they play in the greater Freire community by doing something they love – something that brings them joy. I find that when I take time to do something that brings me joy, I bring my best self to my next task. So, on June 10th you will find me cooking and eating dinner with my kids, soaking up all that they are becoming as they continue to grow.
I am grateful every day, that my life’s work also brings me great joy and reenergizes me each day. We founded our first Freire school in Center City 19 years ago with the goal of engaging Philly kids directly in their education, nurturing leadership, citizenship, and creativity. An experiment that began with 100 students, the Freire Schools now bring joy and a first-class education to 2,000 students across four campuses in two cities. Our kids grow up with multiple challenges, but I can say from almost 20 years of working with Freire students: every single kid is brilliant when given the chance to shine.
As our model grows, our needs grow. JOMO does more than provide the space for joy and self-care, it raises critical funding so that our students can get their social-emotional needs met, excel academically, and participate meaningfully in their environment, from the halls of their school to college and beyond.
I am pleased to announce that Freire’s charter management organization (CMO), Build the Future Education Collaborative, was just awarded a $3.75 million federal CMO Grant. This grant will provide critical start-up financing for a proposed expansion of Freire Schools to add elementary campuses in Philadelphia and Wilmington. Build the Future was one of only 15 CMOs nationwide to receive this grant in the current round, establishing Build the Future as a peer among nationally recognized CMOs.
While the CMO Grant will allow us to reach new and younger students, we continue to rely on our partners to help us sustain the first-class education we provide to our current students. The Freire model provides supports that go beyond the typical public education (from social emotional supports to career planning), and each year we ask our friends to help fund the gap between an education that is “just OK” to one that is inspired and inspiring. Quite simply, Freire would cease to be Freire without your support.
If you are new to Freire, I invite you to read what’s here, and come for a visit to one of our vibrant learning communities. Whether in Philly or Wilmington, at our middle schools or high schools, we welcome you with open arms.
And, as you experience the Joy of Missing Out on June 10th, we thank you for sparking joy in tomorrow’s leaders and ensuring they do not miss out on a quality education.
Kelly Davenport, Ed.D.
Founder, Freire Schools & Freire Foundation