The Windy City Blows into the Rocket City to Help Change Lives

The Windy City Blows into the Rocket City to Help Change Lives

Evan Dentley had never heard of Huntsville, Alabama but when recruited to join the HNUSR CDF Freedom Schools® program, he was confident he could make a positive difference here.  And what a difference he made!

“That summer I saw a transformation in those children and their families!  Seeing children who barely wanted to walk in the door the first week, then begging to read a book on the fifth week was amazing.  Seeing youth deal with conflict resolution amongst themselves was eye-watering.  It was amazing witnessing youth talk about how they can make a difference in themselves, family, community, country, and world and with hope, education and action.”  When asked what he considered the biggest impact he thought the HNUSR Freedom School program had on the children, Evan says, “Seeing those children band together through adversity.  Kids that were once physically fighting each other, were now verbally fighting for each other with great articulation!”

EVAN KNOWS A THING OR TWO ABOUT FREEDOM SCHOOLS.  “I was a scholar in the program in Chicago in 2003.  I was a Level 3 scholar and the name of my tribe was Mini Fresh!  After two years in the program as a scholar, I was asked to become a Junior Servant Leader and throughout my high school career I helped with the Heritage Community Development Corporation Freedom Schools.  After my first year in college, I was asked to be a Servant Leader Intern (SLI), and, ironically, my Site Coordinator was one of my SLIs when I was a scholar.”

Evan believes strongly in the Freedom Schools model and its proven record of changing lives of not only the children served through the program, but also the young adults who serve as Servant Leader Interns.  He describes the program as one “that basically saved my life and has fulfilled me in so many ways!”

Evan is an Ella Baker Trainer (EBT) for the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program.  Ella Baker Trainers are the best of the best CDF Freedom Schools teacher-mentors and are selected to join a national training team to implement the CDF Freedom Schools model.  “Being an Ella Baker trainer has opened so many doors for me.  Not only did being an EBT help my career, it also gave me a family that reaches across the country, a family I am grateful to have in my life because they inspire me to be better every day.”

“I believe that being a Site Coordinator for HNUSR helped shape me into the professional I am today.  I was fresh out of college and was asked to lead a group of amazing teachers and aspiring educators!  I learned about creating systems to better serve program participants that I still use today!”

Evan’s coordination of the inaugural Freedom Schools program at the Fellowship of Faith Church was nothing short of amazing and he is certainly worthy of recognition as the volunteer story for the month.  When summing up his summer experience, Evan says, “I am grateful that Dr. Jones trusted me to come into the amazing Huntsville community and serve in the capacity of Site Coordinator.  Working with HNUSR and being given the opportunity to serve the families of Huntsville is something for which I am tremendously thankful!”

If you are interested in volunteering with the Huntsville Network for Urban School Renewal, Inc., please contact us at