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Author: Chris Brown

Parent Mentor RFP

Parent Mentor RFP

Good news — the Parent Mentor Program is growing! Please see the RFP for the Illinois Statewide Parent Mentor Initiative FY18. (Watch this video to learn more about the Parent Mentor Program.)

This RFP is for community organizations seeking to apply as a Start-Up Partner. The anticipated grant award for start-up partners is $34,000, pending state approval.

A Start-up Partner is a Community Organization that has experience working with schools, but is not running a Parent Mentor Program currently.  Start-up Partners would hire a Community Organizer to begin work in January in order to launch their programs in 2 schools for the Spring Semester 2018.  The expectation is that a Start-up Partner will employ at least one half-time Community Organizer, to work in at least two Local Schools, supervising at least two Parent Mentor Coordinators (one per school)and at least 16 total Parent Mentors.  The Community Organizer may begin on January 1, with the Parent Mentor Coordinators and Parent Mentors ready to begin shortly after. PEI will hold weeklong trainings for Community Organizers and Parent Mentor Coordinators in January and expect full participation, even if that staff person has not yet started in full.

RFP Timeline

–       Wednesday, Dec 6th 9:30-11:0am at LSNA, 2840 N. Milwaukee Ave: Mandatory Bidders Conference

–       Friday, Dec 8 at 5pm: Letter of Intent Deadline

–       Friday, Dec 15 at 5pm: Application Deadline

–       Wednesday, Dec 20: Notice of Grant Award Sent Out

–       TBD: Budget Finalized and Contract Signed (contingent on finalized contract)

–       January 1st: Operations Begin

Many more details can be found here: FY18 Parent Mentor Start-Up Partner RFP 11.20.2017

Devonta Boston Joins SWOP as Public Allies Member 

Devonta Boston Joins SWOP as Public Allies Member 

SWOP Staff- Davonta BostonIt would be hard to say that SWOP is welcoming Devonta to SWOP as he’s been a youth leader with the organization for more than six years.  Devonta first started working with SWOP as a 14 year old freshman at Gage Park High School in the VOYCE program.  In this program, he developed his leadership skills and a strong taste for community organizing.  At VOYCE, Devonta learned about one to one meetings, building power, and taking action to make changes he cared about.  He credits VOYCE for keeping him school and getting him through to graduation. 

Devonta built on his interest in organizing after graduation by joining Public Allies and working in Oak Park on community engagement.  When he had a chance to do a second year in the program, he pushed himself to work in his own community on issues that were literally close to home.  Devonta is using his Public Allies internship this year to run the VOYCE program at Gage Park; the same program that helped him find his passion for community work.  His goal is to identify young people and help them build their leadership skills.  He is also working with the school administration on increasing enrollment at the school, building stronger bridges between the school and the community, and returning Frarority to the school (a fraternity/sorority Greek life program).   

In addition to his Public Allies work at SWOP, Devonta organizes local young people to conduct service projects to help the less fortunate in the community.  You can often find them in the SWOP office on the weekends making sandwiches for the homeless or planning other community building activities. 

For more information on VOYCE, please contact Devonta at dboston@swopchicago.org.

Two More Houses Ready For Sale

Two More Houses Ready For Sale

KIMG2452SWOP and Brinshore are hosting an open house Saturday, November 18th from 10:00 a.m. until 1 p.m. for the next two houses ready for sale under the Reclaiming Southwest Chicago Campaign.  Both homes are classic Chicago bungalows, have been fully rehabbed inside and out, and come with new appliances.  The homes are located at 5749 S. Talman and 6147 S. Mozart.  Please stop by and see them.  For more information, please contact Harry Meyer at 773-471-8208 ext. 131 or hmeyer@swopchicago.org.KIMG2442

SWOP Needs Citizenship Workshop Volunteers

SWOP Needs Citizenship Workshop Volunteers

SWOP Needs Citizenship Workshop Volunteers

Every month between now and next June, SWOP will be sponsoring a series of Citizenship Workshops.  To make these workshops as effect and efficient as possible, SWOP needs volunteers to help out.  Volunteers help with logistics, translation, completing documents, and many other tasks.  SWOP provides training to all volunteers to help you prepare for the workshop.  To find out when the next workshop is, check here.

To become a SWOP Citizenship Workshop volunteer, please contact Adriana Velazquez at 773-471-8208 ext. 113.

SWOP Expands its Work with Young People within the Community School Initiative at Talman Elementary School

SWOP Expands its Work with Young People within the Community School Initiative at Talman Elementary School

SWOP recently expanded its work with young people by being awarded the partnership with the Community Schools Initiative at Talman Elementary School. Talman has long been a member of SWOP and host to a large Parent Mentor Program. Over the summer, Principal Jacqueline Medina invited SWOP to join the school as a partner on the CPS funded program. The goal of the program is to improve students’ academic performance by offering before and after school programs and to increase parent engagement by offering activities for parents.

SWOP recently hired Ryan Theriault to be the Program Coordinator. Ryan is a graduate of Talman and has been working at the school for more than three years; first as a tutor and more recently in the school office. He brings energy and enthusiasm to the job and a deep commitment to the students, families, and community of Talman school.

The Community School program offers a wide variety of programming including algebra, academic tutoring, and sports; with a larger variety of programming coming within the next year. The programs are open to students of all ages and abilities. During the winter months, the program will help seventh and eighth graders prepare to make the transition to high school, and all students prepare for the PARCC test.

For more information on the Talman Community School Initiative, please contact Ryan at rtheriault@swopchicago.org

City Offers Grant Opportunity for Homeowners

City Offers Grant Opportunity for Homeowners

The City of Chicago is making funds available for homeowners to replace old and non-working furnaces, boilers, and hot water heaters. If you live in the area bounded by 59th to 71st STs. and Western to California, you may be eligible to receive funding to improve your home’s systems.  Applications and supporting materials are due to the City by November 10th so don’t delay.  Please contact Heather Windmon at NHS for more information at 773-392-4202.

These grants are being made by the City as part of the Micro Market Recovery Program (MMRP).  SWOP is a participant in the MMRP effort.  If you have questions about SWOP’s MMRP effort, please contact Harry at hmeyer@swopchicago.org.

SWOP Welcomes New Adler School Intern

SWOP Welcomes New Adler School Intern

Diana ChaidezSWOP is pleased to welcome new Adler University intern Diana Chaidez.  Diana is a first year student completing her social justice practicum.  At SWOP, she will focus on all kinds of data.  Her first task was working with SWOP staffer Harry Meyer to complete the latest housing survey of the community.  Over the course of this school year, Diana will work to track participation at SWOP meetings and leadership development; housing, crime, education and other data trends in the community; and, will help to demonstrate the impact of the Reclaiming Campaign.

Diana grew up in the community, graduated from Eberhart Elementary School, and still lives in the neighborhood with her family.  SWOP is excited to have her on board.

Lots of Reclaiming Updates Since May 25th Kickoff

Lots of Reclaiming Updates Since May 25th Kickoff

On May 25, 2017, more than 500 community leaders gathered at St. Adrian Church to kickoff the next phase of the Reclaiming Southwest Chicago Campaign (read about it here.)  Since then, a lot has happened with the campaign.

first buyerSWOP/Brinshore have completed 10 buildings since May, leasing up 25 units.  All the units completed during the first phase of the campaign are occupied.  Recently, SWOP/Brinshore sold their first single family home.  Three more are scheduled to be completed soon.  Using $1 million dollars committed from Metro IAF and LISC Chicago, SWOP and Brinshore are looking to acquire new buildings in the expanded target area.

Harry Meyer and SWOP’s new Adler School data intern, Diana Chaidez, have been completing the most recent survey of housing vacancy in the community.  The latest analysis shows that in the original 20 block target area, the community has gone from 93 long-term vacant buildings to 13 today.

Crime continues to go down in the community.  In 2012, there were a total of 327 crimes in the original target area.  Last year, there were 135, a decrease of 58%.  And crime continues to fall this year.  While crime is down, generally speaking, across the community and city, this is significantly more than the 33% decrease in the new target area during the same time period.

SWOP’s education programs are now underway in schools across the community.  Here’s a story about local Parent Mentors getting trained to start their work in 12 schools in the neighborhood.  Here’s another story about work at Gage Park to increase community involvement in the school.  The Teen REACH, Elev8, and VOYCE programs have all started up at Morrill, Marquette, and Gage Park respectively.  SWOP just started running the CPS-funded community school program at Talman; a first for SWOP.

Lindo move inImmigration continues to be a challenge given what is happening at the federal level.  Here is a story about SWOP’s response to the changes to DACA.  Here is a story about some of the work SWOP did to support DACA recipients.  SWOP continues to offer workshops on immigration every Wednesday evening in the SWOP office and to provide legal services through the SWOP attorney.

The work around the commercial corridor is about to move to the next step.  SWOP will be working with the firm JGMA, an award winning architectural firm, on a community design process for commercial spaces in the community.

Lastly, SWOP has raised about $3 million towards the overall campaign goal of $10 million and just over $10,000 towards the local giving campaign goal of $20,000.

Parent Mentors Ready To Work

Parent Mentors Ready To Work

IMG_0329School is back in session and that means it is time for Parent Mentors to be back in classrooms helping students succeed. During the week of October 2nd, 120 parents, from 12 local schools, gathered at Gage Park High School to build their skills. Mostly moms, these emerging leaders have committed to their children and their schools that they will work collectively to make things better.

Now in its second decade of work, the Parent Mentor Program is an effort that places parents in classrooms to assist the teacher in making sure all students succeed. The parents volunteer for 2 hours a day, Monday through Thursday, providing small group instruction, one on one tutoring, and engagement work with other parents. On Fridays, the Parent Mentors participate in leadership development training. SWOP’s Parent Mentor Program is part of a state-wide effort running in 72 schools across the state.

Each year, all the participants in the Parent Mentor Program participate in this week of training to prepare for the school year. They learn how to support teachers and students, how to bring more parents into the school and engage them in their children’s learning, and how they themselves can become more involved in public life.

IMG_0330The training is led by Parent Mentor Organizers, former program participants themselves. They know what it takes to be helpful and successful in a classroom and they share their knowledge with new parents coming into the program. The training gives the Coordinators an opportunity to expand their public life skills while ensuring that knowledge about the program gets carried from one group of participants to the next.

For more information on the Parent Mentor Program, please contact Jamillah Rashad at jrashad@swopchiago.org.

Community Wraps Up Planning Process at Gage Park

Community Wraps Up Planning Process at Gage Park

IMG_0316On Tuesday, September 19, 2017, more than 25 SWOP leaders, Gage Park educators, students, and alumnus gathered in the Gage Park High School cafeteria.  They came together to answer the question: What Actions Should We Take to Achieve Our Vision For Gage Park High School?  Their work built off a similar session held on July 17th (find a report on this meeting here) where the group built a vision for the school.

After introductions and an update from principal Tamika Ball, the participants discussed what is and is not working at the school.  The group believed the school is headed in the right direction, that they liked the number of sports teams that are up and running, and the communication with parents and students.  The group was concerned with competition from charter schools, the overall lack of funding for schools, and though attendance is up, the number of students at Gage Park.

IMG_0320Joel Rodriguez then led the group through a planning exercise to identify potential action steps for the group to take.  Several great ideas came out of the discussion.  These include: developing feeder school relationships; conducting “reverse shadow days” where GPHS students attend local middle schools to spread the word about the good work of the school; and, instituting family nights to bring parents into the school and get them more involved.

If you are interested in helping to implement the action plans, please contact Jamillah Rashad at jrashad@swopchicago.org.