Children’s Defense Fund and Garrett partner to advance child welfare

A multi-year partnership aims to reset the narrative on child well-being and agency,
creating new theologies

EVANSTON, Ill. — The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (Garrett) have formalized a strategic partnership, CDF – Garrett Joint Partnership on Theologies of Child Well-being, to support a movement toward theologies of child well-being. child who creates the conditions for children and young people to flourish. Recognizing that children and youth are the voices of authority over their lives and circumstances, the partnership’s work is grounded in the contextual reality of children and youth living in the Chicagoland area.

“Child well-being involves ensuring that children grow and develop in a stage-appropriate way. This includes making sure they have the resources they need to grow into successful adults, and making sure they can enjoy being children, but that’s the responsibility and obligation of the community to create the circumstances for these children to thrive. CDF is thrilled to partner with Garrett in a way that leverages each institution’s unique gifts. The CDF Freedom Schools® are our primary movement building mechanism. Using CDF Freedom Schools® as sites of learning for students and scholars opens new possibilities for constructive and practical theologies informed by children and youth to change the discourse on child well-being,” said Reverend Starsky Wilson, chairman of the CDF. and CEO.

Garrett and CDF have a long history of collaboration, including the Garrett-Evanston CDF Freedom School, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry, and the Dale P. Andrews Freedom Seminary. This partnership expresses the collective commitment to see people flourish through the liberation and well-being of children.

Garrett offers leadership development, theological concentrations on child advocacy in master’s and doctoral programs, and other initiatives centered on the nurturing of children and young adults. However, this partnership projects a vision beyond higher theological education. In the public square, the halls of government, schools and faith communities, a new narrative around the promise and power of children is overdue. Garrett and CDF will collaborate to design a doctoral scholarship focused on child welfare. This effort expands Garrett’s programs focused on advocating for children’s rights and incorporates CDF’s hands-on expertise in movement building.

The goals of this collaboration include nurturing the pool of public theologians; expanding each institution’s presence in the Chicagoland community through community listening, meeting needs, and developing leaders; generate theological resources for the work and vision of child welfare; and enriching the disciplines of constructive and practical theology with distinctive and innovative scholarship.

This partnership helps launch a key aspect of Garrett’s newly adopted strategic plan, which builds on strategic partnerships to help advance the student experience, creative inquiry, church prosperity, and world healing. Recognizing that child advocacy is a starting point for child wellbeing work and that narrative change is a long game, CDF and Garrett will invest resources to together support a movement that establishes the field of wellbeing. children in theological education.

“Garrett’s long history of serving children and families goes back to his founding days when the Chicago Training School prepared leaders for the 19e century to address the challenges of poverty, migration, immigration, urbanization, industrialization and education by placing the physical, educational and spiritual development of children at the center of a holistic approach education and leadership development. This work has continued to the present day through the Garrett Young Adult Initiative, the Garrett Freedom School, child advocacy concentrations in masters and doctoral programs, and other initiatives that center nurturing. children and young adults,” Reverend Dr Javier said. Viera, Garrett’s president.

CDF serves and advocates for America’s largest and most diverse generation: the 74 million children and youth under 18 and 30 million young adults under 25, with special attention to people living in poverty and communities of color. As the only national, multi-issue advocacy organization working at the intersection of child welfare and racial justice by exercising the moral authority of programmatic outreach and community organizing to inform public policy , CDF Freedom Schools® are uniquely positioned to serve as sites for service, research, and academic reflection for Garrett students.

Among the many benefits of this partnership, current Garrett students and alumni will be able to pursue higher education and continuing theological education with a focus on child welfare, a scholarship, and life-based learning. take place in CDF Freedom schools in the region. ®, and benefit from emerging research at the intersection of theological education and child welfare. Likewise, CDF Freedom Schools® staff and volunteers will have access to academic resources to inform their practice and teaching.

An advisory board will provide advice and guidance to guide the work of the partnership and inform the development of theological resources, innovative scholarship, and advocacy priorities.

About the Children’s Defense Fund
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023, Children’s Defense Fund envisions a nation where marginalized children thrive, leaders prioritize their well-being, and communities wield the power to ensure they thrive. The only national, multi-issue advocacy organization working at the intersection of child welfare and racial justice, CDF advances the well-being of America’s most diverse generation, the 74 million children and young people under 18 and 30 million young adults under 25. CDF grassroots movements in marginalized communities build the power of child-centered public policy informed by racial equity and the lived experience of children and youth. Its renowned CDF Freedom Schools® are held in nearly 100 cities and 30 states and territories.

About Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary trains courageous leaders in the manner of Jesus to cultivate communities of justice, compassion and hope for the prosperity of the church and the healing of the world. Garrett achieves this mission through educational programs and strategic partnerships that address the most critical religious and social issues facing the church and the human family with courage, innovation and collaboration.


Reverend Dr. Reginald Blount
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
[email protected]

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.

Barry F. Howard