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.