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Author: Chris Brown

New Parent Mentor RFP Available

New Parent Mentor RFP Available

Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) is issuing the following Request for Proposals for the Parent Mentor Program (referred to throughout as “PMP”).  This Request for Proposals is presented by SWOP, in partnership with the State of Illinois and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). We expect to grant a small number (8-10) of awards, with a priority of funding community-based organizations that add to the ethnic, racial, and geographic diversity of our current parent mentor network.

A letter of Intent is due on July 20, 2018 and a full response is due on July 31, 2018.  A bidders conference will be held at LSNA’s office, 2840 N. Milwaukee on July 17, 2018.  If you have questions, please contact Maggie Perales at 773-471-8208 ext. 118 or mperales@swopchicago.org.

FY18 Parent Mentor Start-Up Partner RFP 6.20.2018

Jeff Bartow speaks to City Club of Chicago

Jeff Bartow speaks to City Club of Chicago

Community economic development is a big topic in Chicago.  Everyone is talking about how to revitalize communities and their commercial corridors while also creating family supporting jobs.  It is no wonder then that Jeff Bartow, along with Meghan Harte from LISC, Perry Gunn from Teamwork Englewood, and Carlos Nelson from Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation were invited to speak on this subject to the City Club of Chicago on May 31st.

 

In his presentation, Jeff outlined SWOP’s work as part of the Southwest Corridor Collaborative (SWCC); an initiative sponsored by LISC Chicago to promote economic development in Chicago Lawn, Englewood, and Auburn Gresham.  He talked about the need to redevelop the old Sears store at 62nd and Western to create shopping and service opportunities for the community while also providing jobs for residents.  Most importantly, Jeff spoke of the need to build human connections between community stakeholders so that they can do the organizing needed to make plans into reality.  It was a lively panel discussion with lots of back and forth between all the presenters.  Everyone left with a lot to think about and with some clear cut ideas on how to improve the economic conditions of Chicago’s neighborhoods.

 

You can find a video of the City Club of Chicago presentation here.

Parent Mentors Meet Legislators, Advocate For Program

Parent Mentors Meet Legislators, Advocate For Program

More than 60 SWOP leaders traveled to Springfield on May 9th to rally for the Parent Mentor Program. They were joined at the State Capital by almost 200 other leaders from 11 other organizations from around the state. All are participants in the Parent Mentor Program in local schools. Through the program, the Parent Mentors spend two hours a day in classrooms working with students and assisting teachers.  Research shows this has been an effective way to improve academic achievement for students.

 

The parents were excited to meet with their peers from across the state.  While in the Springfield, they spoke of the importance of the program and heard from legislative supporters.  They then headed out to meet with the individual State Representatives and State Senators.

 

The Parent Mentors are asking the State to increase its support for the program to $3,000,000 for the next school year.  This increase in funding will allow the program to grow to more schools and communities across the state.  At the individual meetings, parents asked their representatives to sign a letter supporting the increase in funding.

 

After the visits, they headed back to Chicago to continue their good work.  For many parents, this was the first time they had travelled to the State Capital.  “It was an educational experience to see how the Capital and political process works.  They were able to share their stories with their legislators.  It was really worth taking time out from the work in schools to make the trip” said Maggie Perales, SWOP organizer.

SWOP Is Hiring

SWOP Is Hiring

The Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) wants to hire two new organizers.  First, SWOP is looking for an experienced organizer who can take the lead on one or more of our current campaigns.  This is someone who has experience with community organizing and is looking to take on more leadership in an organization.  SWOP is also looking for a community organizer.  Experience is always good, but we will consider someone who has passion, intelligence, an ability to learn, and is good at building relationships with people from different backgrounds.  Here are the job descriptions for both positions.

SWOP Experienced Organizer Job Description SWOP Organizer Job Description

SWOP Experienced Organizer Job Description

 

 

Expanding Reclaiming Chicago From Vacant Homes to Vacant Stores

Expanding Reclaiming Chicago From Vacant Homes to Vacant Stores

When the Sears store at 62nd ST. and Western closed over ten years ago, it left a big hole in the Chicago Lawn community.  Gone were the opportunities for families to shop at a major department store.  Soon, the Jewel grocery store and the movie theater were gone as well.  Left behind was a large swath of vacant land that neither provided shopping opportunities nor jobs for community residents.

 

As SWOP’s Reclaiming Southwest Chicago campaign began to show real success in reducing the large numbers of vacant buildings, reducing violence and helping local schools improve in the community around 62nd and western, SWOP member institutions decided that now is the time to work to reactive that space.

 

The first step in this process was a community meeting on April 23rd at Churchview Senior Campus to discuss the site.  The goal for the meeting was to build a vision of what was possible for the site and to build support for implementing the vision.  More than 65 community stakeholders, representing more than 20 SWOP member institutions and local allies attended.  They learned about traffic patterns, current land ownership and potential types of development from architects at JGMA and about challenges from Ghian Foreman from the Greater Southwest Development Corporation.  James Matanky, who now owns the vacant movie theater, was there to lend his support.

 

Working in small groups, they identified ideas they wanted to see implemented at the site.  They talked about a full-service grocery store.  They talked about sports complexes for soccer and baseball.  The talked about a warehouse and distribution center for internet retailers. They talked about the impact of potential development on their institutions, and about who else should be at the table. All of the ideas were collected and will be used as planning for the site moves forward.

 

This potential development effort is a part of the Southwest Corridor Collaborative (SWCC), an economic development initiative with SWOP, Teamwork Englewood, and the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation in partnership with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Chicago. The SWCC initiative has gotten commitments of $50 million to support retail/commercial and job creation projects along the 63rd Street and Halsted Street corridors

 

This was just the first step in what will be a long process for redeveloping the site at 62nd and Western.  But if the first meeting is any indication, there is a lot of enthusiasm for bring this site back to benefit the community.

 

For more information on this effort, please contact David McDowell at dmcdowell@swopchicago.org.

City Key

City Key

SWOP is excited about today’s launching of the Chicago CityKey Program.

  • There is a Community Day on Monday! Cards will be printed on Monday, April 30 at Kennedy King College’s W Building located at 6301 S. Halsted Street from 10:00 AM until 7:00 PM. 
  • Their appointment system is currently booked through the month of May and June (Yes, the demand is high!), so we recommend sending residents to the events taking place in neighborhoods across Chicago. Here is the calendar: https://www.chicityclerk.com/chicagocitykey/how-apply/make-appointment/citykey-mobile-sites
  • If individuals need extra assistance to learn how to become eligible for a Chicago CityKey, please click here: (www.chicityclerk.com)

Lastly, check out this Time Out article that includes the initial list of perks that individuals can access with their CityKey: https://www.timeout.com/chicago/news/all-the-perks-of-chicagos-new-citykey-id-card-program-042618 

SWOP CeaseFire: Building Relationships and Improving Safety

SWOP CeaseFire: Building Relationships and Improving Safety

Every day at 4 p.m. Andre, Carla, Mirna, and Myra, meet in a storefront on West 63rd ST.  They are there to debrief activity in the community and to make a plan of action for the day of work ahead.  The four are community outreach and violence interrupters for SWOP’s CeaseFire program.  The four of them, along with Rafi Peterson, SWOP’s director of anti-violence programs, are working hard to lower crime and violence in Southwest Chicago.

SWOP receives funding from the University of Illinois-Chicago and the Illinois Criminal Justice Authority to carry out the CeaseFire program.  The focus of the work is on police beats 823, 825, and 833.  This is basically the area from 55th to 70th Streets and from Claremont to Cicero.

The idea behind SWOP’s CeaseFire work is simple: build relationships and deter people from committing acts of violence.  The work is hard.  The community outreach workers are pounding the pavement to build relationships with people likely to be perpetrators or victims of violence.  They want to understand their needs and connect them with services.  It might be getting them into a GED class or a job training program.  It might be connecting them with a food pantry or a substance abuse clinic.  They host events to provide positive activities for people.  They convene support groups to give participants a chance to help each other out.

The violence interrupters are gathering information on activity in the community and are deploying themselves to, as their job title states, interrupt the violence.  They use their relationships with individuals to talk them down from taking violent action.  They undertake conflict mediation with people who are angry with one another and might use violence to resolve their dispute.  They track shootings and meet with family and friends to prevent retaliatory shootings.  Sometimes they constructively shadow, as in follow around, individuals they fear may undertake a violent action.  Each situation is different, so they develop their response to meet each circumstance.

For each of them, the work is personal.  They all live in the community and have a long history with CeaseFire and the people they are working with. They celebrate each and every victory, no matter how big or how small.  It might be the breaking up of a fight between a group of high school students.  It might be the dad who was active in a street organization and the victim of a shooting who is now a claims agent for an insurance company.

The work is having a profound impact on the community.  In the Reclaiming Southwest target area, crime is down 55% since 2012 and 31% in the surrounding community.  It only went down 11% in the City as a whole.  The challenge is that State funding is intermittent at best and this year’s round of support ends in June, just as things are “heating up” in the community.

SWOP Citizenship Workshops Help Families Prepare Paperwork

SWOP Citizenship Workshops Help Families Prepare Paperwork

Early on Saturday, March 10, 2018 SWOP staff and volunteers gathered at St. Clare of Montefalco Church. They set up tables and laid out materials as they waited for people to make their way to the Church, a member institution of SWOP.

The staff and volunteers were there to host one of SWOP’s monthly Citizenship Workshops.  At these events, SWOP helps applicants complete their N-400 form and other documents they need to apply for Citizenship. On this particular Saturday, 74 people were assisted at the workshop.  They were also provided with a legal review and answered any questions they might have had about the process. This effort is funded in part by the State of Illinois through its New Americans Initiative.

To know more about our citizenship efforts, how to apply, or how to volunteer and help others in this process, please contact Adriana Velazquez at avelazquez@swopchicago.org or at (773)471-8208 Ext. 113

Now Is The Time To Register To Vote for the March 20 General Election in Illinois

Now Is The Time To Register To Vote for the March 20 General Election in Illinois

SWOP, with support from the Marguerite Casey Foundation’s Equal Voices Campaign, is undertaking a non-partisan voter registration drive and Get Out The Vote campaign.  Two leaders, Azalia Martinez and Stephanie Maltos, are working in schools and faith institutions to find and register new voters and to get people who have not voted in recent elections to come out and vote in the Illinois Primary Election on March 20th.  SWOP’s goal is to register 250 new voters and contact and move to the polls 1,000 people who have not voted in recent elections.

Having started the campaign on January 19th, they have already met with parents from seven schools.  They are working to sign up students at Daley College.  They will also sign up voters at the end of Mass at several local churches in the next few weeks.

A few things to know about registering to vote.  If you will turn 18 on or before the November 6, 2018 General Election, you can register and vote in the March 20 Primary Election.  If you have moved recently, you need to re-register.  If you have not voted for several elections, you need to check to be sure your registration is still valid.  You can do this by re-registering.  The deadline for paper voter registrations for the March primary is February 20th.

If you have any questions or want SWOP to come to your institution to register voters (or missed the Feb 20 deadline), please contact David McDowell at dmcdowell@swopcchicago.org or 773-471-8208 ext. 112.

DACA Renewal

DACA Renewal

In September, President Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA), putting in jeopardy over 800,000 young people (read SWOP’s response here). On January 9, a federal judge ordered the Federal Government to continue the DACA program.  The question that people continue to ask is, “should I renew my DACA under these circumstances.”

At SWOP Legal Services we stand ready to answer your questions, help educate you on your legal options, and process necessary applications.  SWOP is scheduling DACA renewal appointments.  Please contact Iris Gutierrez-Berrios at igutierrezberrios@swopchicago.org or 773-471-8208 ext. 129.