Our Organization's Work

SWOP’s work aims to advance racial equity and economic justice. The Reclaiming Southwest Chicago Campaign is one example of this. Starting in the early 2000s unscrupulous real estate agents and mortgage brokers targeted Southwest Chicago as a community where they could sell products to buyers of color. These agents and brokers sold mortgages and services that the buyers could not afford, did not need, or that took advantage of their inexperience. The ultimate result was that they stripped the community of wealth and left a wake of destruction in vacant homes and distressed lives that is still reverberating through the community today.

SWOP’s campaign seeks to redress this wrong by organizing to make it right. SWOP built leadership and power through its member institutions so that local stakeholders could plan and execute a strategy to address the vacant buildings and the increases in crime and decreases in school performance that went along with them. Local leaders identified development and funding partners, secured resources, and undertook the programs needed to reclaim the community. Through this effort, the community is safer, homes are affordable, and schools are succeeding. All of which gives residents the start to an equal opportunity to succeed in our city.

SWOP carries out similar campaigns when it fights for improved education through the Parent Mentor Program, ensuring a place for all Citizens through Know Your Rights trainings and Citizenship efforts, and community safety and police accountability through Communities Partnering 4 Peace and the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability. SWOP is the Chicago Lawn lead agency for the Chicago Local Initiative Support Corporation’s (LISC) New Communities Network. SWOP led two Quality-of-Life planning processes. Read the plans here.

In 2013, SWOP won the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. This is the nonprofit equivalent to the MacArthur Foundations’ Genius Award for individuals. SWOP won this award for its anti-foreclosure work and for the quality of the community organizing. SWOP is also the 2017 (for the Reclaiming Campaign) and 2020 (with LSNA for the Parent Mentor Program) winner of the Woods Fund Power of Community Award at the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards.