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Freedom School

The Institute of Positive Education has been awarded funding from the Illinois State Board of Education: Phil Jackson Freedom Schools Grant for the 2022 – 2023 School year. The IPE Bethune Freedom School model will incorporate four programs:

• Bethune Summer Institute for Teachers and Teaching Assistants

•  IPE Unity After-Schools Programs

•  Zaidi Shule Artist Summer Camp

• IPE Parent University (Black Star Project) – Saturday Program

Summer 2022 Institute

Programming will be offered to students and families within the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood and surrounding communities.

The Bethune Freedom Schools model addresses the holistic needs of young people and their caregivers. This model includes attention to both the normative challenges of development (e.g., human needs at different points in the life course. – early childhood; middle childhood; adolescence) in tandem with the historically rooted challenges youth face around racism and poverty.

Across all the proposed activities, students will develop positive senses of identity by examining artifacts that capture the resilient histories of their communities and their families. They will develop a strong self-efficacy by explicit attention to learning the powerful problem-solving strategies and modes of reasoning that characterize expertise in that field of study (e.g., robotics, gardening, performing arts, examining histories of civil rights and cultural traditions.) These activities will all require students to read critically, to communicate orally and in writing, to apply mathematical and scientific reasoning to community-based projects. All activities are structured to assure students will experience connectedness and attention to their social and emotional needs.

IPE will collaborate with the following community organizations that bring technical expertise:

Greater Chatham Initiative will offer programming in Restorative Practices that utilize Restorative Justice principles of accountability, trust, respect, responsibility, and repair, as a community-based approach to dealing with conflict, violence, crime, the effects of crime, and the prevention of crime.

The Black Star Project will engage youth in leadership development, educational projects and micro-entrepreneurship, and violence prevention. Families will be introduced to:

Parent University Program

Saturday University Program


This work with adults parallels the goals we have set for the children, creating opportunities for parents and caregivers to bond with one another, especially those whose children attending the same schools; create opportunities for parents to examine their children’s wholistic needs, and create structures to support their efforts to expand academic learning.

If your student is not currently enrolled in the IPE Unity After-School Program and you are interested in enrollment, please click the link below to complete that application. If you need more information about programming, please feel free to send an email to or call (773) 651-5999.


Welcome back to school! We wish everyone a safe & prosperous school year!

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