Who We Are

Our Mission

The mission of the Huntsville Network for Urban School Renewal, Inc. (HNUSR) is to help mitigate poverty-related factors that contribute to poor academic performance of children in the most ethnically diverse and poorest neighborhoods in Huntsville and increase their academic achievement by growing a network of high-performing CDF Freedom Schools in Huntsville that (1) help close the academic achievement gap between Title I and non-Title I school students in the Huntsville City School System; (2) increase the number of students from under-served communities with the academic preparation and personal character to succeed in college; and, (3) produce successful individuals who are responsible citizens and active community members.

Our Staff

Edward L. Jones


Nanette Cox

Scholar & Family Coordinator

Evan Dentley

Director of Freedom School Operations

David Austin

Data Systems Manager

Robert Drake

Director of Communications

Rodney Parker

Logistics & Activities Coordinator

Tyler Pearson

Social Media Coordinator

Mildred Stiger

Office Manager

Collas Washington

Talent Acquisition & Volunteer Coordinator

Our History

The HNUSR was founded in 2011 as an entity in the College of Education Teacher Service Center at Alabama A&M University with the goal of providing supports to children and families in low-income communities that will help address problems of low academic achievement in Title I schools in the Huntsville City School System. The model was based on that of the Harlem Children’s Zone with the notion of providing wrap-around support services to children and families in the Huntsville City Schools Title I school zone communities. Primary in these support services at the time was developing a service within the College of Education based on the Urban Teacher Residency model, through which the College of Education would develop and provide an innovative teacher education program in collaboration with the Huntsville City School System. Also, as part of the initial offering of services, the HNUSR sponsored a CDF Freedom Schools program in Summer 2014 through a partnership with the Fellowship of Faith Church in Huntsville. The program was very successful and the church wanted the HNUSR to return for the next summer and administer its already existing summer program as a CDF Freedom Schools program. In 2015, the HNUSR broke away as an entity of the Teacher Service Center making the HNUSR an independent non-profit entity with no connection to Alabama A&M University.

This experience helped refine the focus of HNUSR whereas the board of directors found value in having the organization focus on using the CDF Freedom Schools model as an instrument for community building in low-income communities, particularly as low academic achievement of children from these communities continues to be one of the main issues confronting these families. Because summer learning loss, in particular, has been shown to be a significant contributor to the continued academic deficiencies for students from low-income communities, the HNUSR decided to set out on a goal of creating a network of high-performing CDF Freedom Schools in Huntsville that provide quality summer learning programs to as many students as possible through partnerships with community organizations across the north Huntsville area. In addition, the HNUSR will extend its outreach as it continues to work with these organizations beyond the summer months through after-school programs that are also based on the CDF Freedom Schools model.

Whom We Serve

The Huntsville Network for Urban School Renewal, Inc. (HNUSR) targets low-income communities in Huntsville, Alabama that it collectively refers to as the “Zone.” The Zone, shown in the photo, is a total of 64.2 square miles on the north side and portions of the south side of the City of Huntsville. The Zone is defined by 16 of the 2010 Census Bureau Census Tracts – 2.10, 2.02, 3.01, 3.02, 5.01, 5.02, 5.03, 6.01, 6.02, 7.01, 7.02, 12, 13.01, 13.02, 15, and 30 – and further divided into regions: Region 1 (18.6 square miles); Region 2 (21.7 square miles); Region 3 (11.7 square miles); and, Region 4 (12.2 square miles). The area encapsulates all the Huntsville City School System’s Title I schools service areas and contains the communities that HNUSR seeks to target due to the historically low academic achievement of children from these communities.

We are working to provide
all children with the opportunity
for a good education.













Parents and family members are the most important partners in their children’s education. The CDF Freedom Schools program offers parents and family members the support and skills they need to help their children succeed. Caregivers are required to demonstrate their commitment to the program and to their children’s education and development by becoming actively involved in the daily CDF Freedom Schools activities. Parents, family members and community members are invited to serve as read aloud guests during Harambee; assist in the classroom, on the playground and during meals; plan and chaperone field trips; and support the children’s social action and community service projects. Family members also participate in weekly workshops where they learn about the educational and social development of children and gain the necessary skills to empower themselves and their families to succeed.


The social action and civic engagement component of the CDF Freedom Schools model teaches youth to engage in community service and social justice advocacy. Children learn to apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills as they become more responsible members of their communities. Servant leader interns encourage the children not only to explore the problems facing their communities, but also to become active in working toward solutions.
Each year, thousands of children and teens from CDF Freedom Schools sites nationwide participate in CDF Freedom Schools National Day of Social Action. Participants take part in a variety of actions including visiting and writing letters to elected officials, joining together for marches and rallies and other public education activities. Children learn that they are not citizens in waiting but can make a difference right now.


The CDF Freedom Schools® program is a servant leadership incubator for two generations – the children served and the college students and recent graduates who teach and serve them. Training coordinated by the CDF Freedom Schools national office prepares the young adults to provide an enriching experience for the children they serve. The Ella Baker Child Policy Training Institute promotes principles of servant leadership by fostering an understanding of the connection between effective programs and public policy, and the importance of community development, political advocacy, and coalition building. The strong ethic of service is evident across generations, as community leaders support these servant leaders while they teach and mentor the younger children.


The CDF Freedom Schools programs will provide two nutritious meals and a snack each day the program is in operation. These meals meet USDA nutrition standards. CDF Freedom Schools programs serving distressed children and families will also incorporate therapeutic interventions and health and mental health services. The Ella Baker Child Policy and Training Institute promotes principles of personal responsibility and the development of healthy lifestyle choices.


HNUSR builds meaningful relationships and partnerships within the community that strengthen our collective commitment to children and lead to sustainable change.