CHARLOTTE -- A national organization said they hope to stop the summer brain-drain by keeping kids in school.
The Freedom School Partners is a six-week educational enrichment program designed to help kids not only maintain what they learned the past school year, but help them learn more. Monday was the first day of this summer program at 25 sites around Mecklenburg County.
Parents said they might be more excited than their kids.
"This morning I woke up so early because I was so excited about having them here. I was like, oh you know! They thought I was going to work and I was like, 'Oh, I'm not going to work, you're going to school!'" said Alicia Brewton, whose two sons are attending the Providence Day Freedom School.
Chanting and cheering, the kids are engaged, empowered and educated through the program.
"I'm at home and I know it'd be much funner for them to be with somebody else, in a different learning style than I am, because I'm just drilling. I'm like, hey, read this book, do this, do that, so they will probably love it here,” said Brewton.
Freedom Schools serve children who are most at risk of summer learning loss, but are least able to afford the opportunity of quality summer learning.
"Freedom School helps meet that challenge with literacy and self-esteem and fun and engagement for children who have the most to lose in the summer,” said Mary Nell McPherson, Executive Director of Freedom School Partners.
Studies have shown the program is effective.
"Sixty percent of the children in the Freedom School Program are gaining in their reading comprehension and loving reading. More than 90 percent of children are not suffering any summer learning loss,” said McPherson.
The program continues to grow with 10 new sites opening this summer. One of those is Providence Day School, the first independent school to partner with the Charlotte program, showing their support of public education and the community.
"I love the opportunity to take our institution that has these amazing resources and share those with others. The opportunity to just increase their learning and increase their literacy, but also to be part of our community, and to really see what we have to engage in and build a new partner,” said Nicole DuFauchard, Logistics Coordinator for the Providence Day Freedom School.
Freedom School is free for families participating. The program relies on donations to cover the costs, which are $1,200 per child for the six-week program.
To learn more about the program or donate, visit www.freedomschoolpartners.org.