Stories

Statement

Statement

The Southwest Organizing Project, a broad-based organization representing 45 member institutions on the southwest side of Chicago, writes this letter in response to the recent murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, but also past murders of Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Laquan McDonald in Chicago and too many others. We recognize that the lack of trust between communities of color and the justice system were earned by long histories of police brutality and the oppression of…

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PARENT MENTOR PROGRAM DEMONSTRATES THE POWER OF COMMUNITY

PARENT MENTOR PROGRAM DEMONSTRATES THE POWER OF COMMUNITY

At the 2020 Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA), Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) and SWOP were honored for the Parent Engagement Institute and the work of parent mentors with the Woods Fund of Chicago Power of Community Award.  In 2004, SWOP modeled the Parent Mentor Program after LSNA’s work. Then in 2012, we partnered together to create the Parent Engagement Institute which has led to more parent mentor programs across Illinois. Thanks to the whole team of parent mentors, coordinators,…

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Adapting Work During COVID-19

Adapting Work During COVID-19

During SWOP’s Monday staff meeting, staff called in from their homes to share how they are and updates on their work. Everyone is adapting to the changes COVID-19 has brought.  Throughout the meeting, people shared their care and concern for loved ones, for neighbors, for people who are incarcerated in detention centers, prisons, and jails, for people who have lost jobs and work hours, for people who are sick, and for others who are especially vulnerable during the pandemic.  Staff…

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A statement on behalf of SWOP staff and leaders

A statement on behalf of SWOP staff and leaders

SWOP organizes to build a collective voice and pursue actions that “stand for the whole” in Southwest Chicago.  Our best information to date indicates that the Covid-19 pandemic requires strategic actions that run counter to our usual practices, but which we must begin to implement immediately and at scale in order to protect the health and well being of all of our community members. Effective March 16th, 2020 the SWOP office will be closed until further notice, and SWOP staff…

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Increasing Parent Mentor Program Funding

Increasing Parent Mentor Program Funding

This year Illinois increased the Parent Mentor Program grant to $3.5 million – a $1 million increase from 2019. With this funding, 30 more schools receive support from parent mentors in primarily Black and Brown communities where funding has largely been divested. SWOP organizer Maggie Perales runs finances for the entire statewide parent mentor program. Perales emphasized the impact of this funding increase on their work this year: 30 more schools, each with 8 more parent mentors, each supporting around…

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Local School Council Elections

Local School Council Elections

Local School Council (LSC) elections are on April 22-23. Why may community members want to get involved? Castro, an education organizer at SWOP, said that when you “invest in your schools, you invest in your neighborhoods.”  Castro also explained that LSCs are a way of practicing democracy that can make change here and now. Participating in public spaces is critical.  SWOP wants strong LSC candidates and elections, because LSCs can create positive changes in schools which can act as powerful…

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Citizenship Workshops

Citizenship Workshops

Thanks to our great team of volunteers, SWOP was able to help seventy-six people at the December Citizenship Workshop which SWOP hosted. At these monthly workshops, individuals received a legal screening and, if eligible, filled out their N-400 application for naturalization. Each applicant also got an opportunity to apply for a fee waiver which is intended to help low income individuals who cannot afford the current $725 immigration fee (application and biometrics). The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)…

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TAKEAWAYS FROM LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, PART 2

TAKEAWAYS FROM LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, PART 2

At our second Leadership Development training, we reviewed our conversations from the first day of training together. Jeff Bartow explained that change requires confrontation. While this does not necessarily mean conflict, confrontation does require honesty. Conflict often does accompany confrontations towards change. Jessica Biggs, Southwest System of Care organizer, led us through an example of a power analysis. We discussed different forms of power, including power with, power within, and power over. When conducting a power analysis, we ask:  What is…

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Celebrating Together at Our Holiday Party

Celebrating Together at Our Holiday Party

Hundreds of SWOP members, leaders, and their families celebrated our work together at our annual holiday party. SWOP staff estimated about 500 people came. SWOP would not exist as it is without these hundreds of people and more. Building community is relational. People show up because of the people they know are expecting them. Building off of this understanding and our campaign for Census 2020, organizer Adriana and youth leader Iliany shared about the importance of every person being counted….

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Takeaways from Leadership Development, Part 1

Takeaways from Leadership Development, Part 1

Leadership Development trainings are not what someone might expect – they’re not about public speaking, or personality, or personal success. Rather, these trainings could be renamed “Reflection on Public Life” according to SWOP’s executive director Jeff Bartow, who led the English-speaking training in November 2019. Throughout the first session of Leadership Development with Bartow in November, a group of staff and community members learned together about power, organizing, anger, community, change, and transforming overwhelming problems into tangible and actionable issues….

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