Knowledge for Freedom programs invite underserved high school students to study humanity’s deepest questions about leading lives of purpose and civic responsibility. Between the junior and senior years of high school, students come into residence on a college campus, where they experience the intensity of a seminar-sized discussion taught by college professors focused on major works of philosophy and literature. Over the following year, while applying to college as high school seniors, the students engage in civic initiatives inspired by the recognition that their lives are interconnected with the lives of others.
High school students who typically find themselves shut out from opportunities available to their more affluent peers are thus provided with an opportunity to undertake college-level work in the humanities, to build meaningful relationships with college faculty and college students, who serve them as mentors, and to develop, through practice, civic skills with their peers. Knowledge for Freedom programs, as demonstrated by the “Freedom and Citizenship” model program at Columbia University, dramatically improve college readiness, admission prospects, and college graduation, while building interest in humanistic writing and issues, as well as habits of civic engagement that persist during and after college.