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Author: Chris Brown

SWOP Wins Sustainable Community Schools Funding For Morrill

SWOP Wins Sustainable Community Schools Funding For Morrill

SWOP recently received word from the Chicago Public Schools that it will be a recipient of Sustainable Community Schools funding for its work at Morrill Elementary School.  SWOP staff people Jasmine Serrano and Joel Rodriguez are partnering with Principal Dawn Sydnor-Cole to implement expanded and new out-of-school time programming at the school.

Parents, school staff, partners from Metropolitan Family Services (MFS), and SWOP staff are spending the week of August 20th in training provided by CPS.  At the end of the training, this team and others will make decisions about the specific programs to be implemented over the coming year.  All the new work will build on SWOP’s Teen REACH, Parent Mentor Program, and Southwest System of Care as well MFS’s Community Schools Initiative programing.  The team hopes to add additional after-school options for early grades and middle school students, support for behavioral health services, and mentorship for young people.

For more information on SWOP’s Sustainable Community Schools program, contact Jasmine Serrano at jserrano@swopchicago.org or 773-471-8208 ext. 125 or Joel Rodriguez at jrodriguez@swopchicago.org or ext. 112.

SWOP Parent Mentor Program Expands

SWOP Parent Mentor Program Expands

With support from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Chicago Public Schools’ Community Schools Initiative (CSI), SWOP is expanding the Parent Mentor Program to four new schools.  The new schools in Southwest Chicago that are implementing the program are Hampton, Edwards, Hurley, and Christopher.  Parent Mentor organizers are busy right now recruiting coordinators and parents for the expansion effort.

This exciting development was made possible when ISBE increased the Parent Mentor Program budget from $1.4 million last year to $2.5 million this year.  In addition to providing SWOP with the funding to expand to four schools, the Parent Mentor Program will also be implemented by nine new organizations around the state.  Each new group will be working in two schools in their communities.  SWOP, in partnership with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, runs the Parent Engagement Institute and already supports 13 non-profits in Illinois to implement the Parent Mentor Program and will be assisting these new organizations as they roll out the program.

CSI is providing an additional $25,000 to SWOP for the expansion in the four Southwest Chicago schools.  The CSI team sees the Parent Mentor Program as an excellent way to increase parent engagement in schools and to help improve academic outcomes for students.  The CSI team also helped make connections with the principals and teachers at the new schools.

For more information on the Parent Mentor Program, contact Maggie Perales at mperales@swopchicago.org or 773-471-8208 ext. 118.

David McDowell, An Appreciation

David McDowell, An Appreciation

Sixteen years is a long time.  A person can be born and then legally drive.  Both the Cubs and White Sox won a World Series in that span.  Cities and communities can go through great economic turmoil and then Reclaim themselves.  An organizer can be hired and spend those sixteen years working to build relationships, leadership, and power in Southwest Chicago.  That’s what David McDowell did at SWOP.

David had an interesting path in joining SWOP.  He was a transplant from Kansas City (most recently) and Boston originally.  He’d done a little community work, but had much more experience with political and union organizing.  The person who hired him left SWOP two weeks after he came on board, leaving him wondering a little bit about what he’d gotten himself into.

But David dived right in.  He built a lot of long-standing relationships with leaders like Sister Immacula and Sister Margaret and Paul Marshilonus.  David organized the first Quality-of-Life planning process in 2005 and then the second one in 2016.  This work has resulted in the investment of over $40 million in Southwest Chicago.  David also led the planning processes for the Elev8 program at Marquette and the Smart Communities Program.  Both of which brought additional valuable resources to the community.

David’s attention to detail and his curiosity helped his organizing.  One day he received a list of addresses of foreclosures in Southwest Chicago and wondered what it might look like on a map.  He plotted each address using an old (even at that time) version of Microsoft’s Streets and Trips.  The result was stunning to everyone who’s ever seen the maps: a sea of red dots overwhelming the community.  Those maps helped coalesce the anti-foreclosure work and ultimately led to the Reclaiming Southwest Chicago Campaign.

Sometimes David could be grumpy or argumentative.  He would on occasion find some picayune detail to fight over, one that most people would never notice.  Everyone understood though, that David did this not from a sense of superiority or meanness or anger, but rather from a desire to push himself and others to be the best organizers possible.  We learned from this push and kept on going.

After 16 years of hard work in Southwest Chicago, David met someone.  That someone (Katherine is her name) lived in Waukegan and for them to be together, David moved to her hometown.  He made a valiant effort to commute to SWOP, but finally had to concede that a two hour commute each way, made little sense.  David left SWOP on May 31st.

David had a profound impact on the organization and the people who worked here.  He pushed himself and others to do good work and to always fight the good fight for the community.  He built lots of relationships and leaders and power.  For all of this, we will miss him.

Reclaiming Campbell Avenue

Reclaiming Campbell Avenue

SWOP has recently purchased multiple buildings on the 5900 and 6000 blocks of South Campbell Avenue, as the next phase of Reclaiming Southwest Chicago gets underway.  Two vacant four-unit buildings near the corner of 60th and Campbell have been purchased, as well as a single family home at 6036. 

SWOP is also working on acquisition of two other properties on the 5900 block through the Cook County Land Bank Authority.  5925 S. Campbell is a single family home right next door to 5921 S. Campbell, a two-flat that has been an eyesore for many years.

After acquisition, architectural plans will be developed and submitted to the City of Chicago for permit.  Upon completion of the rehab work these properties will be leased or sold the neighborhood residents at affordable prices.

Once permits are obtained to begin construction on the properties, it should be about three to four months until they’re ready to reoccupy. SWOP is eager to get this process started.

Opportunities for Aspiring Teachers

Opportunities for Aspiring Teachers

The Grow Your Own Illinois teacher’s training program helps individuals who have an interest in teaching do so in a way that helps the community. GYO’s target candidates are people from low- and moderate income communities who wish to pursue their interest in teaching and better the community. Their goal is to support its candidates on their journey to becoming teachers. This can be in the form of providing financial assistance, wrap around supports, and the sense belonging from a cohort of people with the same passion for education. GYO candidates get certified so that they are able to make a difference in their own communities by providing students with educators that look like them and understand their experiences.

 

In order to get properly certified, candidates must complete both the online application as well as submitting all the additional application materials. Candidates will complete a four-year Bachelor’s degree in education, or, if they’ve already completed a Bachelor’s degree, they will either take additional certification courses or complete a Master’s degree. The application for the spring 2019 program is due September 15, 2018.

 

Thus far, GYO has 118 graduates in Illinois, 105 of which are teaching in 88 schools across the state, and they are continuing to address disparities in educational attainment for underrepresented students. If you or someone you know have any interest in the program, please do not hesitate to reach out and learn more. Click HERE to access the website or contact Azalia Martinez Jaimes at a-martinezjaimes5@neiu.edu and get involved today!

Companies Coming Together

Companies Coming Together

Last Friday a group of interns at Mayer Brown lead by Joe Seliga visited the Marquette Park neighborhood. The group went on a thorough tour of the area, and concluded their trip with a Lunch at SWOP to meet the team and learn about the organization. Seliga, who grew up in the area, brought a delicious lunch from Mezquite Pollo Express. Over lunch, the group discussed SWOP’s initiatives and goals, as well as its history, and the Mayer Brown interns were able to ask questions about the organization.

After lunch, they followed in the footsteps of many SWOP lunches by splitting up in to one-offs. One SWOP person paired up with one Mayer Brown, and they learned more in depth. SWOP likes to do this for each of their lunches because one-on-one interactions require more personal understanding and people can empathize more with each other in these situations. Jeff Bartow Concluded the lunch with some final remarks about ways to bring people together, and with that the group left. The lunch was a success, and SWOP looks forward to seeing the people from Mayer Brown again!

Carnival for a Day

Carnival for a Day

Last week, Hoops in the Hood and Playstreets kicked off their Summer programs in Southwest Chicago. The premier was a hit, attracting almost 100 neighborhood residents over the course of the afternoon. The crossover event took place Friday, June 29th, on the 6000 block of South Rockwell. At 11 o’clock, the Playstreets crew loaded up cars and carried over hoops, grills, tents, tables, and more. They then transformed the residential block into a basketball court, wrestling arena, face painting booth, barbecue joint, and carnival.

 

As people began to show up around 1:00, the scorcher of a day intensified. The sun beamed down relentlessly on the 95 degree day, but it didn’t come close to stopping the kids from having hours of fun. The promise of an item from the prize box was enough incentive for many kids to play some of the carnival games for hours. Others insisted on having butterflies, cheetahs, or hearts painted on their faces, or requesting their favorite song be played at full volume so they could show off their dance moves.

 

Finally, after almost three hours, the kids began to give in to the heat and head home. The crew disassembled the block and it became a regular street once again. The kids were sad to see the day end, but relieved to hear that Playstreets would be back to blocks near theirs again this Summer.