Programs and Campaigns

Programs and Campaigns image of kids

Programs and Campaigns

For over 35 years nationally, and almost two decades in New York, the Children’s Defense Fund has worked closely with state and local child advocates as well as national and state organizations serving children to level the playing field for children through a variety of campaigns and initiatives. CDF has worked to educate the public about policies and issues impacting children’s lives, and has provided the public with information and tools to improve the lives of children.

Our current campaigns and programs build upon this long legacy of success by empowering communities and advocates to create the change our children urgently need.


Child Health NOW! Coalition (CHNow!)

CDF-New York brings together a robust group of stakeholders – namely medical providers, social service agencies, educators, city and state administrators, and community leaders – on a quarterly basis to learn about initiatives and programs impacting New York’s children and youth.  To read more and/or download materials from our most recent meeting, click here.

Cradle to Prison Pipeline® Campaign

The Children’s Defense Fund recently launched the Cradle to Prison Pipeline® Campaign, an urgent call to action to stop the funneling of tens of thousands of youth, predominantly minorities, down life paths that often lead to arrest, conviction, incarceration, and diminished futures. The prison pipeline is fueled by pervasive poverty, racial disparities, inadequate access to health and mental health care, gaps in early childhood development, disparate educational opportunities, chronic abuse and neglect, and overburdened and ineffective child serving systems. CDF is working with partners across the country to engage communities, policy makers, legislators, communities of faith and other stakeholders to work together to dismantle the cradle to prison pipelines in their community – and to build the pipelines to success. Learn more about CDF-New York efforts to dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline and how you can get involved.

CDF Beat the Odds® Scholarship Program

CDF's annual Beat the Odds program honors, celebrates and rewards extraordinary high school seniors who have overcome tremendous adversity to achieve academic excellence, demonstrate leadership in their communities, and aspire to attend college to continue their education. Since 2001, CDF-New York has awarded more than 25 college scholarships to outstanding youths in the New York City area. Many recipients have gone on to pursue advanced degrees and leadership positions in their communities. Learn more about the CDF Beat the Odds Scholarship program in New York and how you can get involved.

CDF Freedom Schools® Program

The CDF Freedom Schools program provides summer and after-school enrichment that helps children fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem, and generates more positive attitudes toward learning. Children are taught using a model curriculum that supports children and families around five essential components: high quality academic enrichment; parent and family involvement; civic engagement and social action; intergenerational leadership development; and nutrition, health and mental health. Learn more about the CDF Freedom Schools program in New York and how you can get involved.

Young Advocate Leadership Training (YALT®) Program

The YALT program is conducted by the Children’s Defense Fund on the behalf of the Black Community Crusade for Children (BCCC) campaign. The YALT program is a critical component of CDF/BCCC youth leadership development work. The program is two-fold:

Build a movement for children. The YALT program maintains a national network of young servant leaders committed to child advocacy and social justice. The national Young Leaders Action Network is a forum to engage servant leaders across the country in ongoing dialogue and effective action necessary to address the toxic cocktail of poverty, illiteracy, racial disparities and massive incarceration that is sentencing millions of children to dead-end, powerless and hopeless lives and threatens to undermine the past half century of racial and social progress.

Train a new cadre of young leaders. With an esteemed faculty and core training team, YALT equips young servant leaders with intensive and specialized training so that they can return home and continue to sow the seeds necessary to build a movement for children. YALT is designed to train and prepare young servant leaders 18 to 30 years old to be a strong and effective voice for all children but especially those left behind. The three-day organizing and advocacy-based curriculum is offered at regular intervals throughout the year at the Children’s Defense Fund’s Alex Haley Farm in Clinton, Tenn., CDF’s spiritual renewal and servant-leadership development center for building a movement to save children. Join the Young Leaders Action Network to get connected to upcoming training and community outreach opportunities.

National Observance of Children's Sabbath

Every third weekend in October, CDF invites faith leaders from across the nation to join together to invoke their faith and renew a commitment to children. Congregations of all faith traditions are asked to participate in CDF's Children's Sabbath weekend of reflection, prayer, and action for children in New York City, and throughout the state and nation. Faith-based initiatives have the power to deliver important messages about children's health and well-being. Learn more about the National Observance of Children's Sabbath celebrations in New York and how you can get involved.