Children's Defense Fund

The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) will Leave No Child Behind.® CDF’s mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. Founded in 1973, by children’s rights advocate, Marian Wright Edelman, CDF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has worked relentlessly to improve the odds for all children, especially Black and Brown children with lived experiences in poverty. CDF champions policies and programs that lift children out of poverty, protect them from abuse and neglect, and ensure their access to health care, quality education, and a moral foundation.

CDF’s principal activities are rooted in two distinct areas:

(1) Public education & awareness –CDF has a long-standing 45-year track record for its public education and awareness strategy—informing policymakers, and the general public about issues concerning children, and viable resolutions to address them

(2) Community-based programs– In 1995 Mrs. Edelman launched the CDF Freedom Schools program to improve K-12th-grade students’ proficiency in reading, as well as their motivation and interest in learning. Annually, our advocacy work and programming benefits more than 12 million children across the nation.

Each year undergraduate and graduate students intern in our national office and gain the critical knowledge, skills, and experience needed for a lifetime commitment to service, advocacy, and public policy. We’re delighted by the opportunity to partner with the Princeton Internships in Civic Service Program to offer students experience and inspiration to build promising careers. We see it as an opportunity to expand our outreach and potentially engage more students with diverse backgrounds and frames of reference.


Washington, DC

Internship Description

CDF Freedom Schools® Communications, Outreach and Engagement Intern:

Rooted in the Mississippi Freedom Summer project of 1964, the CDF Freedom Schools® program is a six-week summer literacy and cultural enrichment program designed to serve children and youth in grades K – 12, in communities where quality academic enrichment programming is limited, cost-prohibitive, or non-existent. The program is offered at no-cost to families in partnership with schools, faith and community-based organizations, municipalities, colleges and universities, and juvenile detention facilities. The CDF Freedom Schools program enhances children’s motivation to read and generates positive attitudes toward learning, while connecting the needs of children and families to appropriate resources in their communities, and provides a research-based multicultural curriculum that supports scholars and their families through five essential components:

  • high quality academic enrichment
  • parent and family development
  • civic engagement and social action
  • intergenerational servant leadership development
  • nutrition, health and mental health

In addition, participating children and youth receive two nutritious meals and a snack, daily, as well as a book each week to build their home libraries. In alignment with its intergenerational leadership model, the CDF Freedom Schools program is staffed primarily by college students and recent college graduates, with a 10:1 child to adult ratio. As a result, children and youth are empowered to excel and believe in their ability to make a difference in themselves, their families, communities, country, and world with hope, education, and action!

# of weeks Required Dates Start Time End Time Public Transportation Housing  Format
10 Flexible 9:00am  5:00pm Yes No Virtual/Remote

Housing Information

This is a remote/virtual internship as the staff at CDF are still remote/virtual, with voluntary in-person engagement. The intern(s) would have the option of going into the office, should they desire to do so, but it would be completely voluntary on their end and they would have to comply with our COVID-19 policy.

Internship Qualifications

The ideal candidate have:

  • Ability to work effectively and calmly in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment with daily deadlines
  • Strong organizational and analytical skills
  • Ability to organize facts and present issues in a clear, concise, and logical manner, both orally and in writing
  • Strong internet research skills
  • Self-starter who is comfortable working independently
  • Demonstrated interest in learning about policies that affect children and low-income families
  • Commitment to social advocacy and CDF’s mission to be a voice for all children in America
  • For those interested in policy research, strong excel skills and ideally experience using a statistical software packaged (Stata or SPSS), and experience with federal data sources (census, NCHS, HHS, DOE, etc.)

Additional or preferred qualifications:

  • Passion for social justice, advancing the lives of young people and their families
  • A heart for movement-building.

Writing Sample Required


Special Requirements

  • Background Check