Introduction from the St. Paul Freedom School Leadership Team


The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom Schools® program is a six-week summer literacy and cultural enrichment program that enhances children’s motivation to read and makes them feel good about learning.

Rooted in the Mississippi Freedom Summer project of 1964, CDF Freedom Schools bridge the gap between families’ needs and community resources.

The St. Paul Freedom School is managed by a seasoned team with a strong track record in the education field including Dr. Carol Lynn Patterson (Project Director), Leslye Folmar Harris (Executive Director) and Jared McClain (Site Coordinator).

The free St Paul Freedom School will take place weekdays June 24 through August 2 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Unleashing a Love of Learning

Through the CDF research-based Integrated Reading Curriculum (IRC), scholars engage in high-quality academic enrichment, maintaining or gaining eight months of reading skills on average. The IRC features culturally relevant books, fostering motivation and positive attitudes toward learning.

We will empower rising Kindergarten through 2nd Graders to make a difference in themselves, their families, their communities, and the world with hope, education, and action.

To foster positive attitudes toward learning, our program offers small classes with a 1:10 teacher to student ratio, Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math (STEAM) field trips and afternoon activities, as well as healthy meals (breakfast & lunch) and snacks.

St. Paul Freedom School scholars will also benefit from a free After School Program that provides targeted tutoring designed to improve their math and literacy skills during the 2024-2025 academic year.

Engaging the Village

Emphasis is placed on parent and family engagement, civic education, intergenerational leadership, and holistic health and nutrition.

Our program extends beyond the classroom into the community, instilling a lifelong commitment to social justice and empowerment.

St. Paul Freedom School Leadership

Dr. Carol Lynn Patterson
Project Director

Leslye Folmar Harris
Executive Director

Jared McClain
Site Coordinator

Doctor Carol Lynn Patterson has worked with Project GRAD, the Newark Public Schools, and Marion P. Thomas Charter School. As Executive Director of the Community Development Corporation of Northern New Jersey (CDCNNJ), she led programs for youth in grades K -12 including: Youth Enrichment Summer (YES) Camp; SportSense, which provides funds for youth to engage in intramural sports; and Dream Defenders, a Black History Saturday school.

Leslye Folmar Harris defines her professional purpose as modeling for, supporting, encouraging and enriching the lives of students and educators that look like her.  With an Ed.M in Sociology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Supervisors Certification from Montclair State University; Leslye advocates for, supports and coachs both students and practitioners on their educational journey.

Jared McClain has been a music educator for the past nine years and currently works as Vocal Music Teacher in Passaic, NJ. With a B.A from Hampton University and a Masters in Education from William Paterson University, Jared prides himself in bringing Excellence with Caring to his instruction.  A former CDF Freedom School Servant Leader, he is excited about shaping future scholars and educators.

Your Gifts Will Make a Difference

Financial contributions will help us equip our classrooms, teachers and scholars with Smartboards, chrome books, and STEAM resources.

"Will you help us unleash the joy of growing up?"

Your donation of hotel points, airline frequent flyer miles or credit card points will help defray the expenses associated with our teaching staff’s national CDF training.  Please reach out to us to learn more. 

Select Field Trip Sponsorship Opportunities

Genius Gems


Lorrimer Sanctuary

Based in Millburn, NJ, Genius Gems features the world's largest collection of magnetic tiles (over 30,000) and offers a mix of STEM-based activities, including: design challenges, competitions, team-based games, and creative play.

Based in Washington, D.C., Spark!Lab is part of the National Museum of History. It is where museum visitors become inventors, working in a hands-on invention activity center where they learn that invention is a process and that we all are inventive.

Based in Franklin Lakes, NJ, Lorrimer Sanctuary was given to NJ Audubon by Ms. Lucine L. Lorrimer in 1956.  It spans 14 acres of a nature center & trails.

Brookhollow's Barnyard

Morris Museum

Liberty Science Center

Based in Boonton, NJ, Brookhollow’s Barnyard is a family-run petting farm.  Kids can feed farm animals and ride trains and tractors.

Based in Morristown, NJ, Morris Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Museum.  The Morris Museum has a range of unique offerings, including groundbreaking exhibitions, educational programs, live performances, and more. 

Based in Jersey City, NJ, Liberty Science Center is a 300,000-square-foot learning center, housing 12 museum exhibition halls, a live animal collection with 110 species, giant aquariums, a 3D theater, live simulcast surgeries, the Western Hemisphere’s biggest Planetarium and more.


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