By Amanda Reilly
For the 2018-2019 school year, SWOP was one of just 20 community-based organizations partnered with schools to receive the Sustainable Community Schools Grant from the Chicago Public Schools. The grant made it possible for SWOP to expand after-school programming in Morrill Elementary School throughout the year and create extensive parent programming. The funding was also utilized to bolster SWOP’s existing Teen Reach program within the school and develop a new partnership with the Youth Job Center, commonly known as YJC. The partnership with YJC is enabling SWOP to assist young people in the neighborhood in getting connected to jobs and job training programs.
This summer, SWOP received an extension of the grant to provide summer programming, alongside the original 20 school and partner institutions that received the 2018-2019 grant. The summer programming grant has enabled SWOP to hire five student interns to build their own campaigns around social issues in the community that they are passionate about. The campaign topics range from mental health to immigration. The grant is providing the opportunity to have movies in the park throughout the summer and has enabled the “Brain Arts Productions,” a financial literacy program to be available for students at Morrill School in Teen Reach. In addition to the hiring of five interns, the funding is being used to deliver parent programming throughout the summer at Morrill like Zumba and yoga classes. The grant will bring a resource room to Morrill, which will provide computers, reference material, and other resources to the students, parents, and staff.
Leslie Carrillo, the resource coordinator for the Sustainable Community Schools grant, says these opportunities are vital for the neighborhood during the summer months as kids just need places to be kids, and young people need access to work opportunities. The best news of all is that SWOP will be continuing to work with Morrill School in the fall, as SWOP has received additional funding for the coming school year. The funding will allow SWOP and Morrill to continue to work together to build a stronger community, and a stronger future for the students, families, and residents of Chicago Lawn.