The Springfield Urban League Inc., in collaboration with the National Park Service (NPS) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), proudly announces the launch of the Freedom Project, an initiative that uniquely combines the historical narrative of the Illinois Freedom Project with the educational and empowering ethos of the Children's Defense Fund Freedom School®. This project is set to offer a comprehensive educational experience, enlightening young minds about our past and actively engaging them in shaping a brighter future.

The Freedom Project is designed to educate participants about Illinois' history from slavery to freedom, with an emphasis on resilience and victory over adversity. It will empower youth through development, literacy, and leadership skills, fostered by proactive community involvement. Additionally, the project aims to inspire participants to apply historical lessons to their own lives and communities. It also creates opportunities for them to explore various career paths within the NPS and IDNR.

Key components of the project include the development of a unified curriculum, created in collaboration with the NPS and IDNR, that combines historical insights with an empowering educational approach. The project will also feature 'Freedom Journeys & Exploration', offering educational trips to significant historical sites in Illinois. A strong emphasis will be placed on intergenerational leadership and mentorship, involving mentors, historians, community leaders, and parents in guiding young minds. The project incorporates civic engagement and social action through workshops focused on civic duties and community service. A holistic approach will be taken, encompassing modules on nutrition, health, mental health, and family involvement. Additionally, the project will showcase exhibits and community outreach programs, including traveling exhibits and a tour of HBCUs and State and National Historic Sites. To enhance the educational experience, the Illinois Freedom Project website, along with other digital platforms, will be used for storytelling and discussions.


“The Freedom Project is more than an educational program; it's a beacon of hope and enlightenment for our youth. It's about connecting our past with the future, empowering our young people to build a legacy of strength, resilience, and leadership.”

- Marcus Johnson, President & CEO of the Springfield Urban League

Natalie Phelps Finnie, the Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), said, "The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is thrilled to be a part of the Freedom Project. This collaboration aligns perfectly with our mission to educate and inspire the next generation about the importance of our natural and historical resources. We are committed to fostering a deep appreciation for Illinois' rich history and biodiversity through this exciting initiative."

For more information and to enroll in the Freedom Project, please visit the Springfield Urban League’s website at


The Springfield Urban League Inc. is a human service corporation and direct services organization that serves over 22,000 people each year in urban communities (Central and downstate Illinois) through job training, computer literacy, economic development, health, and youth initiatives. The Springfield affiliate is the sixth largest in the Nation.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is dedicated to the preservation and protection of the state's natural resources while promoting outdoor recreation and education. Our mission is to manage, conserve, and protect Illinois' natural, recreational, and cultural resources for the enjoyment and benefit of present and future generations. More information can be found at

The National Park Services works to preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the United States for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of current and future generations. Celebrating the diversity of America’s rich history through its national parks and monuments, the NPS is committed to fostering a deeper public understanding and stewardship of America's past. Visit us at for more information.

Share on social