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Liberation Through Literacy


Open-Source Pilot Program

The 1619 Freedom School Liberation Through Literacy Curriculum (LtLC) is built upon four critical pillars that support the educational and personal success of Black students in the U.S. Read our introduction to the curriculum here.

We are making the curriculum available to educators selected to participate in our open-source pilot. The pilot program lasts from July 2024 - May 2025.

Below are frequently asked questions about the 1619 Freedom School, the curriculum, and our pilot program. If you are ready to apply for the 2024-2025 pilot, please find our application here: Application for Curriculum Pilot 2024-2025

If you have any more questions, email us at

Q: What is the 1619 Freedom School?

A: The 1619 Freedom School is an after-school literacy instruction program whose mission is to improve literacy skills and develop a love of reading through liberating instruction centered on Black American history.

Our motto is “Liberation through Literacy.”

We are based in Waterloo, IA, hometown of the program’s founder, Nikole Hannah-Jones.

We serve 4th - 5th grade public school students who are grade levels behind in reading.

The program is free for our students. They attend instruction Mondays - Thursdays for 2 hours after a regular school day. They are taught by licensed teachers.

Q: What is the Liberation Through Literacy Curriculum (LtLC)?

A: The LtLC was developed for use in the 1619 Freedom School. It offers culturally relevant literacy instruction aimed at developing students’ ability to read the word and the world. Culturally relevant literacy instruction is an approach to literacy development that expands the definition of what counts as literacy, acknowledges literacy as a political act, and embraces the transformative purpose of literacy. LtLC offers a counter narrative to the deficit-based master narrative of the Black experience in the U.S. The curriculum situates the experiences of Black Americans as central in American history, offers a multi-faceted and dynamic view of what it means and has meant to be Black in the U.S., and positions positive cultural images as both windows and mirrors for youth at the school. The curriculum is designed to teach literacy skills – vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, and composition–using culturally-affirming texts, materials, and images.


Q: Who developed the Liberation Through Literacy Curriculum (LtLC)?

A: The curriculum was designed by Sabrina Wesley-Nero, PhD, who directs Georgetown University’s Program in Education, Inquiry and Justice and is head of the Teacher Preparation program in the M.A. in Educational Transformation (MAET) program with LaGarrett J. King, PhD, director of the University of Buffalo Center for K-12 Black History and Racial Literacy Education. 

Q: What is the open-source pilot?

A: From its inception, the 1619 Freedom School aimed to positively impact the educational trajectories of youth across the nation by making its curriculum an open-source resource for educators.

Educators selected to participate in the pilot will be trained on the LtLC by curriculum creator Dr. Sabrina Wesley-Nero of Georgetown University, and veteran teachers in the 1619 Freedom School. 

After training, pilot educators will receive selected units from the LtLC curriculum one at a time throughout the program year. Pilot educators will be put in teams coached by 1619 Freedom School teachers where they can collaborate to solve problems, share unique approaches to instruction, and get their questions answered. Finally, pilot educators also will provide feedback to our team after implementing each unit as well as data on the students’ literacy progress. 

Q: How long does the pilot last?

A: Educators selected to join the 2024-2025 pilot will be notified in early June. They will participate in a virtual training in July. After that, they will use the curriculum over a school year with their students. The pilot ends in May 2025.

Q: Who can participate in the pilot?

A: Educators around the country who work with 3rd - 5th grade students who are reading well behind grade level. That includes teachers, reading specialists, and other educators in various settings such as: 

  • Public school classrooms

  • School districts

  • Afterschool programs

  • Reading and literacy instruction programs

  • Private organization literacy instruction programs

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