Children’s Defense Fund-MN is a strong, effective, independent voice for all children in Minnesota. We advocate for the most vulnerable.
The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® 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.
Established in 1985, Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Minnesota is the only policy organization in the state to focus solely on the needs of children. CDF–MN targets all Minnesota children, particularly children in low-income households who suffer greater barriers to full participation in society as a result of being born into poverty. CDF–MN pays particular attention to the needs of our most vulnerable children — children of color, children from low-income families and children with disabilities.
To achieve its goals, CDF-MN conducts research, helps connect families with public work support programs, and educates the community and advocates for effective tax, social and health policies on behalf of the state’s children.
Nationally and locally, CDF is a private nonprofit organization supported by individuals, foundations, and corporate grants. Marian Wright Edelman founded the CDF in 1973 and continues to lead the organization as its president.
Our vision is to advance the nation in a direction that puts children first.
Investments in children come back to us many-fold. By ensuring children receive a great start in life, they are more likely to grow up healthy and become contributing adults. Our nation has the ability to:
How We Do It
Beat the Odds The CDF Beat the Odds® program honors outstanding high schools students who have overcome tremendous adversity, demonstrated academic excellence and given back to their communities. CDF-MN holds this high-profile awards event to send a clear signal that someone does care and understand what it takes to stay in school and do well while coping with adversity in their personal lives.
CDF Freedom Schools The CDF Freedom School program helps children fall in love with reading, increases their self-esteem, and generates more positive attitudes toward learning. The CDF Freedom Schools® program boosts student motivation to read, generates more positive attitudes toward learning, and connects the needs of children and families to the resources of their communities.
Bridge to Benefits Bridge to Benefits is a multi-state project by CDF-MN to improve the well-being of low-income families and individuals by linking them to public work support programs and tax credits that could provide increased economic stability for their families. The project relies on our online screening tool.
Creating Change: Zero to Three Research to Policy Project A rapidly growing body of research is demonstrating the harmful effects of poverty, caregivers’ depression and other negative environments on children’s brain development. CDF-MN provides policymakers and practitioners with proven approaches for avoiding the unnecessary costs associated with harm in children’s early years.
The School Breakfast Initiative seeks to address childhood hunger by helping schools implement effective school breakfast programs. CDF-MN is working with school personnel throughout the state to identify and overcome barriers that discourage eligible students from taking advantage of school breakfast.