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Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa partnering with 1619 Freedom School

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BLACK HAWK COUNTY, Iowa (KWWL) -- The Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa announced it's partnering with the recently announced 1619 Freedom School in Waterloo as the school’s fiscal sponsor.

CFNEIA was an early funder of the school, providing a $10,000 grant from its Racial Equity Fund. The fund was established in June 2020 and is a funding resource for projects moving communities toward racial equity. Grants from the fund support nonprofits addressing racial justice issues and serving diverse groups of people, programs engaging members of the community in advocacy and promoting racial equity, education and training to help create more inclusive communities, and initiatives that explore solutions to ending racism.

The 1619 Freedom School was launched by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and Waterloo native, Nikole Hannah-Jones with a team of Waterloo educators and community leaders, to provide a free, community-based, after-school literacy program.

“We are honored and excited to partner with the 1619 Freedom School. The school delivers a much-needed program to bridge the literacy gap and provides a path that increases opportunities for success for all students in the Waterloo School District,” Kaye Englin, CFNEIA President & CEO said. “Equity in education is essential to strengthening our communities and aligns with the Foundation’s values and our commitment to racial equity across our region.”

The 1619 Freedom School will work with the Waterloo Community School District to identify students most in need of literacy support. In its inaugural year, the school will serve 4th and 5th graders at Dr. Walter Cunningham School for Excellence and low-income students from other schools in the district.

The school is named for the historic date that marks the beginning of Black America. The school is not affiliated with the New York Times' 1619 Project for which Hannah-Jones is known.

The school will be housed in the historic Masonic Temple in downtown Waterloo. Plans are already in place to open a second location.

Financial support will be directed through CFNEIA, meaning all gifts are tax-deductible. Gifts can be made by visiting the school's website or directly through CFNEIA's website. Gifts are also accepted through the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa, 3117 Greenhill Circle, Cedar Falls, IA, 50613. Checks should be made payable to the 1619 Freedom School Fund.

Parents interested in enrolling their kids should contact the 1619 Freedom School by clicking here.

Questions about the partnership or giving questions may be directed to Englin, at 319-243-1350 or

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