Habari Gani? What’s the News?

Ujima (oo-gee-mah)!

On the third day of Kwanzaa, December 28, we celebrate Collective Work & Responsibility.ujima

To build and maintain our community together and make our sibling’s problems our problems and to solve them together.

Akoma ntoaso – the Adinkra symbol of shared effort and obligation

Today we light a green candle symbolizing Ujima, one of the Nguzo Saba (seven principles) that represent a guide for daily living to be practiced throughout the year.

Harambee! Let’s all pull together!

Habari Gani? What’s the news?

Kujichagulia (koo-gee-cha-goo-lee-ah)!

On the second day of Kwanzaa, December 27, we celebrate self-determination.Kujichagulia

To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Ahenwa, the Akan throne, is symbol of national identity, cultural groundedness and rightful governance.

Today we light a red candle symbolizing Kujichagulia, one of the Nguzo Saba (seven principles) that represent a guide for daily living to be practiced throughout the year.

Harambee! Let’s all pull together!

Habari Gani? What’s the news?

Umoja (oo-moe-jah)!

On the first day of Kwanzaa, December 26, we celebrate unity.

Umoja Unity dagi knot

To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

The dagi knot, pictured above, is a Pan African symbol of unity found in several African cultures (Yoruba, Hausa, Bushongo, and more).

Today we light a black candle symbolizing Umoja, the first principle of the Nguzo Saba (seven principles) that represent a guide for daily living to be practiced throughout the year.

Harambee! Let’s all pull together!

Joyous Kwanzaa!

Kwanzaa kinara and symbolsKwanzaa is an African American and Pan-African holiday which celebrates family, community and culture. Celebrated from December 26 thru January 1, its origins are in the first harvest celebrations of Africa from which it takes its name. The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili, a Pan-African language which is the most widely spoken African language.

Like Freedom Schools, St James’ Episcopal Church Austin, and Welcome Table, Inc., Kwanzaa is a story of self-determination. Kwanzaa started during a time when people in the US weren’t allowed to celebrate the traditions or languages or faith of the African diaspora, nor encouraged to learn about our rich and diverse heritage.

Today we uplift the Nguzo Saba, seven principles that represent a guide for daily living studied during Kwanzaa to be practiced throughout the year.

The Greeting

Habari gani? (Swahili for what’s the news) is the official greeting spoken during the 7 days of Kwanzaa. The response is the principle of the day.

Learn More

Click here to learn more about Kwanzaa.

And be sure to visit this blog daily from December 26 to Jan 1, to learn about the Kwanzaa principle of the day.

And please join CDF Freedom Schools Austin at the Carver Museum on Wednesday, December 29, 4 pm – 8:30 pm for the annual Ujamaa Marketplace and Kwanzaa Celebration.

And Sunday, December 26, 11:30 am – 12 pm, join St James’ Episcopal Church and the Union of Black Episcopalians – Myra McDaniel Chapter for the annual Kwanzaa Celebration. Participate in-person (masks required) or online (Zoom).


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Happy HolidaysAfter another year of uncertainty and loss, your holiday season may continue to look different than it did in times past, but in this challenging moment, we have more reason than ever to be grateful for every season—and every day—we get to spend with the people who mean most to us.

We are grateful for you.

Whatever your holiday celebrations look like this year, we hope you and your loved ones are safe, healthy, and warm, and we look forward to doing more good and vital work with you in 2022. Together we can make a difference in ourselves, our families, our community, our nation, and our world.

Freedom Schools Kwanzaa at the Carver Museum

Kwanzaa Kinara DisplayJoin CDF Freedom Schools® Austin as we celebrate family, community, and culture with the Carver Museum and Cultural Center for the annual community Kwanzaa Celebration & Ujamaa Marketplace held on

Wednesday, December 29, 4 pm to 8:30 PM
at the
George Washington Carver Museum, Cultural and Genealogy Center‎
1165 Angelina St.
Austin, TX 78702

Admission is free and open to the public. Bring the whole family to this intergenerational event!

George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center


Stop by the Freedom Schools booth outside from 4 pm to 6pm to make a free Kwanzaa craft. Shop and explore the Buy Black Vendors’ Outdoor Marketplace. Enter a drawing to win a copy of the book One Hen, a gift from CDF Freedom Schools Austin.

Trina RobertsonOne Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big DifferenceThen join us for the evening, from 7pm to 8:30 pm program inside Boyd Vance Theatre for the evening Kwanzaa program, featuring  performances and Kwanzaa candle lighting, along with Freedom Schools cheers and chants along with a read aloud, featuring some of our Freedom Schools scholars and our guest reader Trina Robertson (Welcome Table, Inc. board member) reading One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway.


(This Freedom Schools event is supported in part by the Union of Black Episcopalians – Myra McDaniel chapter.)

Join us for CDF Freedom Schools® Austin’s Jazz Harambee Picnic

with musical guest artist Andre Hayward

Saturday, November 13, 2021

1:30 pm to 3:30 pm

This event will be held outdoors in the grove on the grounds of
St James’ Episcopal Church, 1941 Webberville Rd, Austin TX.

Let us know that your family is attending the Jazz Harambee.

RSVP here: https://forms.gle/xQcygVGDqLV2Y6zU7

When you RSVP by November 4th, you can also enter to win Jazz at St James’ concert tickets.

See friends, old and new at this special jazz themed event with read aloud guest Melody Fullylove (reading Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, a picture book inspired by American jazz trombonist, arranger, and composer Melba Liston), along with some of our favorite Freedom Schools cheers and chants, recognitions, and mini-concert and demonstration by professional musician, trombonist Andre Hayward (who is also performing during Jazz at St James)

Free! Bring the whole family and bring a friend.

(In case of rain or cold weather location will be indoors in Founders’ Hall at St James’ which has plenty of room for Covid safe distancing. Masks required when indoors.)

Here’s the link to RSVP: https://forms.gle/xQcygVGDqLV2Y6zU7

We look forward to seeing you, your family and friends at the Jazz Harambee on Saturday, November 13, 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM

Mildred Monreal named Welcome Table’s Development Coordinator

Welcome Table is excited to announce the arrival of our new Development Coordinator, Mildred Monreal.

Mildred “Millie” Monreal is a fundraising professional in the San Antonio area. After receiving her Masters of Public Administration from The University of Texas at San Antonio, her ultimate goal is to assist in bridging the gaps in  vulnerable communities. This led her into the world of fundraising, development, and nonprofits.

Mildred’s presence on the Welcome Table staff will expand our capacity in grants writing and management, and will assist us in following a coordinated development plan.  She will be actively seeking out new funding partners for both Neighbor 2 Neighbor and CDF Freedom School -Austin.  If you would like to partner with her in this effort or if you have funders in mind who might be a good fit, reach out to her at [email protected].


CDF Freedom Schools Austin Summer 2021 Scholar Recruitment

Summer 2021 Program Scholar Recruitment Information

Sign up today for our free in-person or virtual summer school!

  • Who: Scholars entering 1st – 6th grade in the fall of 2021
  • Where: Pecan Springs Elementary and Online
  • Dates: June 14th – July 23rd (closed July 5th everyone virtual July 6th – 9th)
  • Times: Monday to Friday
    • In-person (8:00 am – 3:00 pm)
    • Virtual (8:30 am – 12:00pm and 1:00pm – 3:00pm)
  • Cost: Free! Limited spaces are available. First come, first served.
  • How: Contact Mila Jackson (512.350.8139)
    [email protected] or [email protected]


  • You may choose In-person or Virtual Programming!
  • Scholars gain months in reading levels!
  • Scholars learn they can make a difference!
  • Increased interest in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math)
  • Free Breakfast, Lunch and Snack
  • Virtual field trips
  • Kids have tons of fun, and fall in love with learning!
  • Parents and teachers see the difference in scholars’ skills, behaviors, cultural identity pride and levels of confidence!

Your child is welcome to apply if they:

  • are NOT in the Andy Roddick Eagles Summer Program
  • speak and read English (multi-lingual families welcome)
  • have just completed K-5th grade
  • receive 4s, 3s, and 2s for conduct on their report card
  • are able to attend some the opening and closing weeks (June 14-18 and July 19-23) and only miss a few days during the summer

CDF Freedom Schools® Austin is brought to you by Welcome Table, Inc. using the proven model developed by the Children’s Defense Fund.

You can also download a printable PDF of this 2021 scholar recruitment information flyer here


Freedom School Information for Parents

What is the CDF Freedom Schools® Program?

Your scholar could be one of the over 100,000 scholars who have had a CDF Freedom Schools® experience since 1995!ReadingClass_IMG_9160.JPG-1024x682

In partnership with Welcome Table Inc., the CDF Freedom Schools® program works hard to ensure each scholar is equipped with the necessary skills to succeed in life. Our program boosts scholars’ motivation to read, and generates a more positive attitude towards learning Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math.  It also connects the needs of scholars and families to the resources of their communities.

A Day in Welcome Table Inc.’s Freedom Schools® Program

For 6 weeks each summer, scholars enter Freedom School each morning for a nutritious breakfast followed by Harambee, a time to prepare body and mind for learning with chants, dancing, sharing and celebration. Harambee ends with a community hero who serves as the daily guest reader for Read Aloud time. Our guest readers share a book with scholars and share their own story of how hard work, study and diligence lead to success.

In the classroom, where servant leader interns (college students or recent graduates) facilitate classes of no more than ten scholars, the children are engaged in reading and theme-based, hands-on activities as outlined in the Integrated Reading Curriculum.  Reading is a cornerstone of the program.  Servant leader interns lead the scholars in reading excellent books throughout the summer.  These books feature heroes, heroines, and settings that reflect the scholars’ cultural images and history.  Classroom activities related to the day’s reading use one or more of a variety of teaching models, including cooperative learning, role playing, and group discussions, and include read aloud, paired reading, Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.)Time, creative writing, or visual arts.  The range of activities ensures that scholars with diverse experiences, talents, and levels of confidence in reading and verbal expression are actively engaged.

At lunchtime the feeling of family and community spirit continues as the scholars join adults to eat a nutritious meal.

After lunch, scholars participate in the other cornerstone of the program, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) activities.  These are well-planned integrated activities that are related to the theme “I Can Make a Difference in Myself, My Family, My Community, My Country and My World with Hope, Action and Education.  Field trips are planned that expand scholars’ horizons for each Friday.  The scholars may also engage in social action projects and rehearse for the summer finale that is performed for parents, friends, and community leaders.

The day ends at 4:00pm for our scholars.

For more information on the National Program, visit Children’s Defense Fund.

For more information, contact us.