A six-year commitment to growth and self-development.
A six-year commitment to growth and self-development.
From their first Freedom Summer in their sixth-grade year, until the day that they graduate college, Freedom Fellows work with our staff and partners to develop themselves academically, socially, and interpersonally, and to become leaders in their communities and across the country.
The bedrock of a Freedom Fellow's experience is a commitment to LEAD, the four principles that guide the RFP. Not only do these principles guide Fellows' development, but they also guide the programming at the RFP. From the novels that we read to the sports that we play, the RFP is dedicated to empowering Fellows through Love, Education, Action, and Discipline.
Freedom Fellows commit to respecting and caring for themselves, their peers, their communities, and the RFP itself. This commitment is grounded in empathy, compassion, and care. As a community of leaders, we focus on a restorative discipline model that emphasizes radical love and interconnectedness, so that we can empower every Fellow to see potential in themselves and their peers.
Freedom Fellows commit to learning from all of their experiences, in and out of the classroom. Education refers to the intellectual curiosity and humility that it takes to be a lifelong learner. In study session, Fellows show education by picking up an extra book; on our trips, Fellows show education by asking questions and seeking deeper understanding.
The commitment to Action is fundamental to success as a Freedom Fellow. Action is commonly referred to by our Fellows as "going above and beyond." Freedom Fellows demonstrate Action in order to better their communities, their schools, and their families. Whether it is cleaning up their neighborhood, helping peers with homework, or seeking out academic opportunities, our Fellows are constantly taking Action.
Discipline is the foundation of the LEAD principles. Discipline refers to the personal responsibility that it takes to show Action, even when it is difficult to do so. Discipline refers to the will power that it takes to show Education, day-in and day-out. Discipline refers to the self-control that it takes to show Love in times of strife and conflict. Through Discipline, our Freedom Fellows have the power to LEAD and to fulfill their potential.
Modeled after the Freedom Schools of the 1960s, Freedom Summer is a 5-week summer-school program, offering 7th-, 8th-, and 9th-grade Freedom Fellows rigorous instruction in reading and math; creative opportunities in visual arts and drama; and access to health and wellness training through fitness, gardening, and our healthy lunch program. After completing the academic portion of the summer, Freedom Fellows travel to Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee to camp in the wilderness, visit civil rights monuments and museums, and learn more about the deep-rooted history of empowerment and social justice in the South.
In the summer after their 9th-grade year, Freedom Fellows take a variety of courses taught by doctoral candidates from around the country. Recruited by our partner organization, Freedom Summer Collegiate, these doctoral candidates develop courses in their fields of study. Not only do these courses allow Fellows to explore their passions, they also provide opportunities for Fellows to earn credits through Millsaps College while developing their collegiate skills.
True freedom is born in the pursuit of education. By engaging with literature, math, and more, Freedom Fellows have access to opportunities to explore the ideas and develop the skills necessary to take on leadership roles in their schools and communities, in college, and in life.
During Freedom Summer, students complete five weeks of rigorous instruction in math and reading that prepare them for success in school and put them on track to college acceptance. With instruction from our college teacher-advisors, veteran teachers, and volunteers, Freedom Fellows learn about the real-life relevance of literature and mathematics, and connect their studies to the pursuit of empowerment and justice in their own lives.
After school, Freedom Fellows receive help finishing homework, completing projects, and studying for tests during our study sessions. On Tuesdays, Freedom Fellows take a novel studies course, during which they read literature, complete essays, and engage in discussions that promote their identities and understanding of leadership through textual analysis.
The RFP is about much more than simply "keeping kids off the streets." We expect great things from our Freedom Fellows and, as such, take very seriously the responsibility of empowering them to compete academically with students across the nation.
Strapped for resources and frequently understaffed, schools across the Mississippi Delta are unable to provide students with many creative opportunities. Opportunities in the arts, however, have been shown repeatedly to produce happier, more inspired, more successful students. The RFP uses the power of the arts to engage students' passions, talents, and identities.
From drawing and painting to paper mache and collages, Fellows discover the power of expression and learn the tools that it takes to exercise it. During the summer, Fellows take five weeks of daily arts classes and, during the school year, they will receive one hour of arts instruction every week from veteran artists and teachers through a partnership with the Delta Arts Alliance.
Thanks to a grant from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area and a partnership with the Delta Arts Alliance, Freedom Fellows spent the 2016-2017 school year exploring the fundamentals of oral history and photography. As their culminating project, students created a mixed media storytelling project that explores the history and contemporary reality of education in Rosedale.
Through a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Freedom Fellows piloted a filmmaking program during Freedom Summer 2017. In the 2017-2018 school year, Fellows used their filmmaking skills to explore different genres of film, producing films on the middle-school garden in Shaw, MS, the Mississippi River port in Rosedale, and a short film on the history of the Rosedale Freedom Project. Some accolades of our young filmmakers include:
Production of over 10 films since our inaugural course in Freedom Summer, 2017.
Awarded $5,000 by Museum on Main Street to shoot and produce a seven-minute documentary on the Port of Rosedale for the traveling ‘Waterways’ exhibit, which is an adjunct of the National Smithsonian Museum.
Freedom Fellows also explore the power of expression through drama. From exercises with dialogue, movement, and projection to production and script-writing to performance, Freedom Fellows learn the tools and value of theater. Fellows perform their plays, which explore issues of civil rights, justice, and truth, before audiences of community members and parents at our seasonal showcases.
In addition to academic writing, students also have the opportunity to write creatively, exploring issues of identity and experience through poetry, prose, and creative non-fiction. After composing, students learn about the process of submitting their work for publication and preparing their work for performance.
One major struggle for students in the Delta is exposure. Many students in Rosedale have not had the opportunity to leave the Delta, and this isolation puts them at an extreme disadvantage to their more affluent peers. The RFP, however, seeks to close this opportunity gap by offering our Freedom Fellows the opportunity to travel, visiting Civil Rights monuments, exploring the outdoors, visiting colleges and universities, and learning more about the history and culture of America. We believe that this exposure to new places and experiences, as well as the opportunity to be representatives of their home community, are essential to Fellows' leadership.
Over Freedom Summer, Fellows get to go to Alabama to swim in lakes, camp outdoors, and explore Civil Rights monuments in Birmingham and Selma. Our most dedicated Fellows end their summer by traveling to nearby Delta State University to stay in dormitories, explore college life, and take courses taught by our undergraduate Teacher-Advisors. During Freedom Summer 2017, Fellows had the opportunity to visit the DSU Planetarium, climb the rock wall at the Outdoor Recreation Lab, and swim in the DSU Natatorium!
During the school year, Fellows take trips to visit our various partners around the country. In 2017, Fellows travelled to Chicago and Batavia, IL, to tour universities, learn about activist journalism with our friends at City Bureau, visit a restorative justice program at Paul Robeson High School, and share our community's story with our partners at the Kaneland School District! For Spring Break 2018, the Rosedale Freedom Project will be headed to the east coast to visit with our friends in Baltimore and Boston.
In the 2017-2018 school year, Freedom Fellows will be reestablishing the Boy Scouts in Rosedale! Stay tuned to our newsletter to hear more about our Fellows' camping trips.
Obesity rates in America have doubled in the last three decades, and, despite its rich history of athleticism, Mississippi frequently tops this list, boasting a 35% obesity rate. Although there are many causes for this, two of the largest factors in this epidemic are physical inactivity and a lack of healthy food options. The RFP seeks to alleviate these pressures.
Through partnerships with the City Council and the Rosedale Family Medical Center, the RFP has planted a community garden. In the garden, Fellows learn how to plant, grow, harvest and prepare vegetables, and explore why healthy foods are so important to our bodies and our minds. Once harvested, produce is distributed to the community to promote availability and understanding of fresh vegetables!
Freedom Fellows also learn about the importance of exercise and physical activity through our fitness program. From volleyball and handball to mile runs and levee walks, Freedom Fellows engage in rigorous physical exercise, learn about stretching and caring for their bodies, and discover how fitness can be fun and exciting.