Southwest Organizing Project’s (SWOP) Parent Mentor Program (PMP) hosts meetings for their Parent Mentor Coordinators every month to tackle different aspects of the work ahead of them and how they can best support the Parent Mentors that work in local schools. On April 16th, 2023, the PMP Coordinators held a meeting to discuss the importance of civics. This discussion, led by Mayra Sarabia, Parent Mentor Program Organizer, provided an overview of the different branches of government such as the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches at the state and federal level, also discussing city council at the local level and included information about Local School Councils. All this with the purpose of educating the coordinators about who holds power in policy and the relationships they could leverage to advocate for their communities.
Jeff Bartow, Executive Director of SWOP, stepped into this month’s meeting to ask about a topic that SWOP has been undertaking alongside other organizations regarding debt reform. Jeff extended the invitation to participate in the campaign to the coordinators while also urging them to ask individuals in their circles who have experienced aggressive debt collection about attending an informational session aimed at getting their stories and assisting them in dealing with their debt in a more manageable way.
To round things off, Maria Eugenia Flores, Parent Mentor Program Organizer, facilitated a Listening Session in which a group of nine Parent Mentor Coordinators shared their experiences around a range of topics based in their communities, their schools and their day to day lives. Along with being able to get a better understanding of one another, this session allowed the coordinators to feel heard and acknowledged in their experiences. Before adjourning, the Parent Mentors brought up their upcoming action in Springfield where they will continue to push for $13.5 million dollars to ensure Parent Mentor Coordinators statewide can be paid at least 20 hours/week, make sure partner organization have the staffing and stipend to run a quality program, and bring the Parent Mentor Program to at least 10 additional schools.