Freedom School 2018

Attend Freedom School 360 – for teens & adult staff
Our Vision & Background
The Team

Join our teaching team
Freedom School Brochure


Attend Freedom School Iowa City, 2018

Learn Liberation Practices for Our Times: SATISFY YOUR CURIOSITY – what are my civil rights, where did they come from, and how do I protect them? DISCOVER YOUR VOICE – learn how to do community journalism. MANIFEST JUSTICE – what is my relationship with my own power?

July 21 – 28: For teenagers
Join us for Freedom School – a gathering for growing Social Justice & Civil Rights. Programming will include inspiring workshops, large and small group work, contemplative/meditative practice, in healing and renewing community.
Teens – Register now

July 18 – 20: Pre-Training for teachers, instructors, trainers, allies and parents
Adults – Register now

Our Vision & Background

We’re thrilled to be hosting our first Freedom School here in Iowa City. Youth will join instructors and guides to explore topics like civil rights, community journalism, voice, power, and manifesting justice. Learn more here. Invite us to come talk to your organization about how Freedom School 360.

What’s in it for YOU:

Gain a working understanding of your rights, where they come from and how to protect them.

Learn how anti-racism intersects with other social justice work.

Gain meditation skills that can support your community activism.

Create networks for for community engagement that bring positive focus to the problems in your community.

Learn how to build on the many strengths and legacies from the past.

Sharpen your skills for being an ally in anti-racism in a supportive and blame free environment.

Read about the history of freedom schools here and here.

Media Justice and Democratic Freedom
Polarization, fragmentation and abuse of power and privilege are entrenched within American society and social justice movements. Their existence limits sustainability, effectiveness and our capacity to create a kind and just society. Freedom School 360 addresses these obstacles using integrative liberation practices. Our work is to dismantle racism, the structures that protect privilege, and the attitudes that perpetuate division and discord. This approach promotes awareness and confidence in human basic goodness and redefines our relationship with power.

Freedom School 360 that expresses a connection between the historical role of the Highlander School and the Summer Freedom Schools of 1964 that occurred in Mississippi. Many prominent civil rights activists lent their wisdom and insight to develop organizing strategies that would be effective in fighting segregation, Jim Crow laws and other forms of discrimination. Septima Clark, Rosa Parks, Ella Baker and many others learned and taught practical skills that helped poor, black or uneducated people in the South overcome obstacle to voting, gain access to public services and challenge unfair labor laws and hiring practices.

Freedom Schools challenged both the legal system and brutal socially ingrained practices that held the mindset of hatred and division in place. Freedom School 360 applies integrated liberation practices such as meditation, historical theater and community based small group projects to develop community journalism and stimulate social engagement.

We look critically at historical and cultural interventions that expose and challenge contradictions between the ideals of democracy, equality and freedom and the institutions and practices that perpetuate exclusion, domination and hatred. We use strategies we inherit from past movements and innovate based on contemporary needs and priorities to challenge materialism, competitiveness supremacist hierarchies and one-upmanship. Vision sessions share methods and strategies for resilience, alliance building creative solutions, accountability, radical democratic process and building egalitarian community structures.

The Team
Ground Team – Teachers from Iowa City and beyond will gather for a three-day training July 18 – 20. We will build community, share lesson plans and coordinate efforts.

Freedom School Coordinator

Rachael Essing

Rachael Essing.2A new member has joined Beloved Community Initiative and Freedom School 360. Rachael Essing will be interning over the summer, taking on the role of Coordinator. Rachael is originally from Fort Dodge IA, though she has spent the last three years living in Massachusetts. She is currently a student at Mount Holyoke College studying sociology and nonprofit organizations. Her experience includes working with youth and young adults as well as in intentional communities. She looks forward to getting to know the community, engaging in social justice work, and creating meaningful, sustainable connections.


Jay Kastori
Tameka Ward-Conley
Tuyet Cullens
Miriam Hall
Damita Brown
Lisa Covington
Jamal Nelson
Sarah Ishmael

Volunteer Staff
Susanne Watson-Epting
Phoebe Frenette
Karen Nichols
Meg Wagner
Jamal Nelson

Join our Teaching Team – Volunteer Positions

Freedom School 360 expresses a connection between the historical role of the Highlander School and the Summer Freedom Schools of 1964 that occurred in Mississippi. Civil rights activists lent their wisdom and insight to develop organizing strategies that would be effective in fighting segregation, Jim Crow laws, and other forms of discrimination. Students of these schools learned practical skills that challenged the legal system and brutal socially ingrained practices that held the mindset of hatred and division in place. In appreciation of this legacy, Freedom School 360 was developed. The 360 integrative liberation approach uses practices from freedom schools of the past as well as contemplative traditions, creative improvisation, Liberation Theater and community-based projects to develop collaborative responses to environmental, social, and economic injustice. This work strengthens intersections among the diverse social movements of our time.

Freedom School 360 Summer Volunteer Staff Positions: All staff members will convene at the 3-day training July 18 to July 20 to build teaching team and staff unity. Teachers and staff will bring their unique set of skills to bear on the goals of preparing our youth to understand their rights and how to engage collectively to protect them. In the training we will prepare ourselves to help them develop meditation as a support for doing this work. We will help them bolster their rhetorical skills such as public speaking, debate, community journalism and interviewing. They will be invited to participate in project with a community-based social justice organization. Their work during this program will allow them to gain skills while supporting and organization in their community. To accomplish these goals we will need teachers to support the following areas.

Civil Rights and Intersectionality

  • What is Freedom School and Why Do We Need It
  • Intersections: Race and Labor Rights
  • Intersections: Indigenous Sovereignty, Environmental Rights and Solidarity
  • Immigration and Multiculturalism
  • Intersections: Identity and Social Equality
  • Youth Led Movements and Young People’s Rights

Contemplative Practices

  • Meditation
  • Contemplation
  • Karuna

Creative Processes

  • Liberation Theater
  • Haiku

Communication Practices

  • Restorative Justice Talk Circles
  • Non-Violent Communication

How to Get Involved

To apply to join a teaching team, simply send a letter of interest and tell us why you want to work Freedom School youth this summer. Tell us about the related projects or interests you have been pursuing that prepare you to do this important work. Also tell about what you hope to learn. Include a resume and two references. Please email these materials to We will be interviewing potential teachers and staff immediately.


All teaching staff will be awarded an honorarium. We also provide breakfast, lunch and lodging for the whole program.