A Time to Give Thanks - Turkey/Ham Holiday Giveaway

January 31, 2023

On November 19th, 2022, SWOP’s anti-violence partnered with St. Rita Parish to provide 750 families with turkeys and hams for the holidays. Although the day was met by flurries of snow, hundreds of community members came out to receive a fair share of whole turkey and ham to take home to their families. With lines of people and cars wrapped around the block, both the volunteers from St. Rita Parish and the members of CP4P stood steadfast in the cold temperatures to ensure every individual who showed up got exactly what they came for; going as far as to help those who could not make the walk or by carrying their items of choice to their vehicles.

Farewell For Now – Winter Series Kickback

January 31, 2023

The Southwest Organizing Project is proud of the relationships that they foster through active organizing, outreach, and especially one on one conversations with leaders. Those same principles apply when approaching youth leaders, as the goal is always to be able to lead to action with one another. That action was achieved this winter as SWOP worked with the youth in their community to host the Youth Winter Series Kickbacks. Through the combined efforts of SWOPs Youth Organizer, Dantay Williams and the 15 youth that played a huge role in these efforts, they were able to host 2 separate events for the community.

Parent Mentor Coordinator Meeting

January 30, 2023

Every month SWOP's Parent Mentors hold a Parent Mentor Coordinator meeting to brief their coordinators about changes, upcoming initiatives, get feedback, and talk about plans moving forward. They also use this platform as a time to reaffirm bonds and answer any lingering questions that the Parent Mentors in their schools might have. Having just started the new year, this meeting set the tone for the start of the Parent Mentors’ work and even gave one of the Parent Mentors, Theo Montgomery, a chance to highlight the leadership development they have undergone by volunteering to become the Chair of the meeting.

Safety Team Red Cross Training

January 30, 2023

The Southwest Organizing Project’s anti-violence team CP4P (Communities Partnering 4 Peace) is known for their boots on the ground outreach approach to building relationships with influential leaders on the streets. They are also known to assist 2nd chance citizens with being reacclimated into society, providing resources to those in need and hosting community safe spaces called Light in the Night.

Winter Series Holiday Kickback

January 9, 2023

SWOP is hosting Winter Kickbacks with youth from the community and come rain, sleet, snow, or extremely cold weather, SWOP’s youth leaders continue to deliver youth-led community events. On December 23rd, 2022, SWOP held one of these events during one of the coldest days of the year which also occurred during a blizzard. Although the cold and blizzard tried to bring an end to the fun, over 100 community members came out to celebrate and share in the spectacle of the holidays at the Marquette Park Fieldhouse. Families came out and enjoyed the hot chocolate bar, holiday cookie decoration, dancing, free barbers, DJ, food table, games, face painting and gift giveaways. Even ABC 7 News couldn’t help but come support and report on the festivities occurring in the community and the perseverance of the youth that made it all possible.

Member Institution– Greater Southwest Development Corporation

November 10, 2022

Greater Southwest Development Corporation (GSDC) was formed in 1974 as a result of organizing efforts to hold banks accountable for the growing disinvestment in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. At the time, the area was experiencing violent racial conflicts and GSDC’s early efforts were largely focused on easing racial tensions and stimulating economic investment. James F. Capraro was the founding executive director of GSDC and having been a witness to the moment Martin Luther King was attacked with a brick, it pushed him to want to work with improving the community and improving quality of life. GSDC has implemented over half a billion in neighborhood development projects.

Day of the Dead Celebration

November 9, 2022

On November 4th, SWOP, Increase the Peace (ITP), Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) held a Day of the Dead Celebration at Marquette Park. This event saw many community members coming out with decorated altars, family portraits and sharing in the spirit of the Day of the Dead. Walgreens came out to offer free on the spot Flu shots while vendors attended, selling different homemade goods such as jewelry and candles. Seeing the different organizations and community members come together to take in the live folklore performances, music, mariachi and pinatas helped spread the significance of the day held in honoring and remembering the dead

Parent Mentor Cafes

October 24, 2022

SWOPs Parent Mentor Program is known for creating strong bonds aiming to forge a relationship between parents and students in schools and provides parents with the skills and resources to play an active role in the development of their children’s education. Before the parents can take on those roles however, SWOP believes it is important to first build strong connections between the parents, administration, teachers, students, and community.

ICIRR Policy Symposium

October 20, 2022

On September 28th, 2022, SWOP leaders participated in the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) Policy Symposium “Building a People Powered Movement: Citizenship and Healthcare for ALL!” This event is an annual gathering where community members, allies and leaders strategize in policy areas that are crucial to the fight for equity and justice for immigrant and refugee families in Illinois.

CP4P’s Light in the Night – A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage

September 29, 2022

SWOP’s anti-violence team, Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P) is known for having boots on the ground in the community, creating safe environments for all residents and providing opportunities for fun community engagement and dialogue centered around safety. CP4P staff form relationships with influential leaders in the community, build a network of trust, and look for ways to create agreements that put the safety of the community and its people first.

Friday Youth Kickback

September 29, 2022

SWOP is dedicated to work based on equity, community wellness, and the long-term improvement of the quality of life for everyone in the community. One area of work that SWOP pursues is youth development, youth leadership, and creating safe spaces. Young people are looking to get out of the house and have fun, while feeling they are welcomed, heard, and treated with respect.

A Look at Our Community - TGi Movement

September 27, 2022

Devonta Boston is a southside resident, avid shoe collector, longtime organizer and executive director of TGi Movement. Devonta’s roots in organizing began in high school when he joined a SWOP initiative called VOYCE (Voices of Youth in Chicago Education), moving into mentoring youth in the Teen Reach program and become an instructor for the program after graduating. Having found a passion for organizing and justice for the south side of Chicago, especially for its youth, Devonta’s ambition for a safe and thriving community has grown as well. Devonta’s work centers around community development, community events, youth development and meetings at Da Oasis which is the space TGi Movement uses for young people to hangout and participate in recreational activities.

Police Accountability Interim Commission

September 12, 2022

On August 29th, Mayor Lori Lightfoot appointed the seven-member commission charged with taking the first step toward delivering civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department that is pivotal to restoring shattered trust between residents and police. Those chosen are Rev. Dr. Beth Brown, Anthony Driver, Oswaldo Gomez, Yvette Loizon, Cliff Nellis, Remel Terry and Isaac Troncoso. They will serve only until district council members are elected on February 28th, 2023 and recommend 14 names from which the mayor will choose a permanent, seven-member Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability.

Black And Brown DuSable Museum Trip

September 1, 2022

Over the last 2 years, the Southwest Organizing Project has partnered with Still We R.I.S.E., LLC to host a series of Black and Brown community healing workshops. Topics focused on race, identity, bias, anti-Blackness, unity, and more. The goal is to come together to learn more about what we can do to move towards establishing more equitable communities. As part of this initiative, black and brown SWOP leaders and staff visited the DuSable Museum of African American History for a guided tour. The group learned about many different facets of Black history from before the slave trade, the roles they played in wars, the race riots, and the fight for equality. Participants touched on the tension that still exists between Black and Brown communities which is in part a lack of understanding of each other’s communities and cultures.

Parent Mentors Return to School

August 30, 2022

The end of the summer marks the start of the fall semester and that means the return of students, teachers, and our parent mentors to the classrooms. Over the summer, SWOPs Parent Mentors spent time celebrating the completion of the first half of the year, building their skillsets, and recruiting more parents who have an interest in playing an active role in their children’s schools

Back to School Bash

August 30, 2022

Every year, CPS school communities across the city celebrate the start of a new school year with back-to-school events. These events are meant to begin preparing students, teachers, and parents for the school year to come. In our continued efforts to build strong relationships, schools and communities SWOP organizers and leaders participated in an array of back-to-school celebrations

Behind the Organizing – Leslie Carrillo

August 16, 2022

Leslie Carrillo is a community organizer with SWOPs Parent Mentor Program currently studying to get her teaching license. She has been working with SWOP for the past three years and has been involved in the organization since she was in 7th grade during the Teen Reach program. As a Parent Mentor organizer, she has three schools that she oversees for the program. Leslie makes sure that parents are in the classroom supporting students academically and that the program is running smoothly. Some of her responsibilities include assisting with recruitment of parents and teachers into the program and making sure that the parents are trained on the academic end of their work. The program is also focused on parents' personal development, which looks different for everyone; whether it is a chance to learn about themselves or simple training that allows them to support their child at home.

Behind the Organizing – Carlil Pittman

August 15, 2022

Carlil Pittman is a 29-year-old male, born and raised in the Englewood community where he has witnessed firsthand what the lack of resources, violence, and criminalization of young people can do to an individual, a family, and a community. He is a father of five which keeps him grounded in this work to create safer communities and access to much needed resources. Carlil is the founder of Good Kids MadCity-Englewood and a community organizer at SWOP. In this work, he focuses on youth organizing, public safety and more recently has been diving into the housing and Reclaiming Campaign at SWOP. Carlil has been featured in documentaries produced by NBC that depict life in Chicago and how young people in his organization are helping to impact the lives of youth around the city. He believes that to create change and better opportunities for our people, we must be able to break down the stigmas and normalization that trauma places on the lives of the community.

Light In the Night

August 05, 2022

Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P) is SWOPs anti-violence program. The CP4P team is passionate about building relationships and fostering public safety in the community. CP4P accomplishes this through their work of providing resources for people likely to commit or be victims of acts of gun violence with trade school services, mentoring, behavioral health counseling, job readiness training, GED training and construction training. To further these initiatives, CP4P staff actively place themselves out in the community doing canvassing, community events and building relationships within the community via conflict mediation, victim assistance and non-aggression agreements with active groups in the community.

Anti-Blackness Awareness Initiative

August 03, 2022

For years, Chicago's Black and Brown communities have been separated. There are tensions between those even in the same neighborhoods due to a difference in racial and cultural backgrounds. Shelby N. Chaney launched Still We R.I.S.E., LLC in 2020 to follow her passion for mediating racial tensions with a specialization in Black and Brown dynamics. In her work, she centers Black history, culture, and identity believing that if the most marginalized are centered then everyone in society will be able to rise.

Healthy Southwest Equity Zone Kickoff

July 25, 2022

The Healthy Chicago Equity Zones initiative deploys hyper-local strategies to confront the social and environmental factors that contribute to health and racial inequity – with the ultimate goal of closing Chicago’s racial life expectancy gap. Efforts began with community leadership of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns, including outreach and engagement during 2021. These efforts focused on increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates and evolved to confront factors that contribute to health and racial disparities, including healthcare and social service access, food access, housing conditions, community safety, and the physical and the built neighborhood environment.

United Power Action

July 22, 2022

On July 17th, 2022, SWOP came together with over 100 member institutions to demonstrate what organizing together to reclaim their communities looks like. With a turnout of over 1,500 people, United Power for Action and Justice, Metro IAF, Lake County United, Dupage United and Fox Valley Initiative tackled what it means to reclaim their communities from gun violence, incarceration of those who require mental health assistance and the reclaiming of homes in their communities. With powerful speakers coming up to share their testimonies about the increase in gun violence and the lack of action taken to prevent these gun related crimes, they called for a change to gun laws and gun technology. When looking over the rate of incarceration against those with unchecked mental illness, those in attendance called out for resources to be placed into their communities to accommodate those who are struggling. When addressing the number of foreclosures, vacant homes, and vacant lots, they showed that they are still fighting for equity using reclaiming campaigns that fix those vacant lots and buildings and allow community members to purchase and move into them.

Parent Mentor Graduation Celebration

July 18, 2022

The Parent Mentor Program engages parents in their children's education. Parents participate in the program with very few prerequisites. In the interview process they are informed that they must have a child that attends the school they are applying to and that they are not allowed to volunteer in their own child’s class. Everyone is encouraged to have a proactive attitude to their children's education. Even grandparents who are considered to be the legal guardians/caretaker of their kids are encouraged to become Parent Mentors.

Healthy Illinois Healthier Community

July 18, 2022

For the first time in the history of the United States, Illinois now offers medical coverage to people regardless of their immigration status. The campaign started back in 2014 with a coalition of 70+ organizations; SWOP being one of them. In 2020, the coalition fought for and won coverage for people 65 and up, and in 2021 they were able to win coverage for people 55 and up. As of July 1, 2022, coverage is now extended to people 42 years old and up. To be eligible, you must live in Illinois, be 42 years of age and be at or below the 100% federal level of poverty.

Empowering Communities for Public Safety CNDA Award

July 12, 2022

SWOP has been a part of a six-year long fight to put the power of police accountability into the hands of community members and give them input in how their communities are being policed. After many long hours, trials, and obstacles, SWOP can proudly say that the ordinance they played a big role in pushing has passed and was awarded the Woods Fund of Chicago Power of Organizing Award by the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards (CNDA). SWOP could not be happier to share the Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) ordinance and this video commemorating the achievement.

Youth-Led Community Engagement Event at Catalyst Maria School

July 05, 2022

Through the leadership of SWOP Youth Organizer Dantay Williams, a group of youth leaders from SWOP who are students at Catalyst Maria School held their first youth-led community engagement event where youth leaders had the chance to use some of the leadership skills they have been learning through Dantay’s work.

Let’s Keep Chicago Connected

June 29, 2022

Chicago Connected is a groundbreaking program that provides no-cost, high-speed internet service to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students and their families. This first-of-its-kind program is one of the largest efforts by any city to provide internet access for students. SWOP has a team of callers who inform CPS families of their eligibility, connect families to their internet provider, and answer any questions that families may have regarding Chicago Connected.

Public Health Ambassadors Take the Lead

June 29, 2022

In the wake of a worldwide pandemic, the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) partnered with SWOP. SWOP enlisted the help of the leaders in the community and using CDPH funding, hired Contact Tracers and Public Health Ambassadors (PHA). SWOP’s goal is to provide much needed assistance as well as relief in these trying times. What started off as an effort to inform individuals and their families about the possibility of having been exposed to Covid grew to be a network of people discussing safety precautions, letting the community know about places they could get tested or get vaccinated and understanding the worries of those who were hesitant to receive the vaccine. To that end, PHAs set out to the streets, reaching out to their community members, and offering resources to assist them while also clearing up misinformation surrounding the virus and the vaccine.

Interview with Jasmine Serrano

June 8, 2022

Jasmine Serrano is a community organizer with SWOP’s Healthy Southwest initiative. She has lived in Chicago Lawn for the past 17 years and has worked at SWOP for the last 13 years. Jasmine supports the Healthy Southwest initiative expansion of SWOP’s referral system as well as she coordinates the community collaborative. This includes different partner organizations from Chicago Lawn and Ashburn.

Youth Hood Fair - Light in the Night

June 8, 2022

SWOPs public safety team, Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P) puts together events for community members to be able to come out and have fun in their own neighborhoods. These events are typically called Light in the Night, however there was one recently hosted that was just a bit more than that.

Interview with Angee Peralta

June 1, 2022

Angee is a 24-year-old, born in Guatemala and considers herself to have very strong ties to the immigrant community. She graduated from Adrian College in Michigan and was very eager to return to Chicago and start assisting the community she grew up in. She started at SWOP as a volunteer and then worked her way up to becoming a community navigator, working in a few roles that would lead to her becoming a full-time organizer.

Interview with Briana Washington

June 1, 2022

Briana Washington is a Chicago Connected Organizer who has been working for SWOP for just around 2 years and although she has not been organizing as long as some of her peers, her work has been extremely impactful in the community.


Would you like to bring the Parent Mentor Program to your community? The Parent Engagement Institute at Logan Square Neighborhood Association and Southwest Organizing Project is proud to announce the release of our FY23 RFP for Start-Up Partners.