July 3, 2024

SWOP's Quarterly Action Council - June 2024

On June 23rd, 2024, the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) held its quarterly Action Council, an event that brought together community members, stakeholders, and representatives from member institutions. The meeting was led by Dennis Ryan, SWOP Board Member and VP of Mission Effectiveness and External Affairs of Sinai Chicago; Joel Rodriguez, Community Organizer at SWOP; and Darion Johnson, Youth Board Member of GoodKids MadCity Englewood. The Action Council used the November election as a focal point for a discussion on public life while also providing a platform for discussing ongoing SWOP initiatives and celebrating recent achievements.

The meeting started with a series of reports on SWOP’s campaigns that resulted in investment in the community. Jeff Bartow, Executive Director of SWOP, provided an overview of the Reclaiming Campaign, a crucial initiative focused on revitalizing and reclaiming neglected properties within the community. He shared progress on the upcoming construction of new homes, which are expected to provide affordable housing and enhance the neighborhood's overall livability. Jeff’s presentation emphasized SWOP’s commitment to sustainable community development and the importance of creating spaces that foster a sense of belonging and pride among residents. Jeff made the important point that SWOP leaders fought for and won the resources to support this campaign.

Alfredo Palafox provided updates on the immigration work. He highlighted the recent successes in securing driver's licenses and President Joe Biden’s announcement of providing work permits for immigrant community members who have had long standing ties in their communities. This achievement was met with enthusiastic applause, as it represented a significant step forward in ensuring that everyone can fully participate in the public life of the community. Alfredo’s update underscored the importance of continued advocacy and support for immigrant rights.

Adriana Velazquez, IL Statewide Parent Mentor Program Administrative Director, spoke about the secured funding that will enable the continuation of the Parent Mentor Program. This program has been instrumental in supporting parents, teachers, and students in fostering educational engagement. Adriana’s announcement ensured that vital resources and support would remain available to families, helping them to actively participate in their children’s education and overall well-being.

In this meeting, SWOP leaders emphasized the importance of civic engagement, particularly considering the upcoming election. While SWOP, as a 501(c)(3) organization,

does not endorse any candidates, they strongly encourage community members to make their voices heard by voting.

Participants broke into four small groups to discuss specific action plans for the November election. The groups focused on youth involvement in the election, the Elected School Board, local GOTV efforts, and swing state GOTV. Each facilitated discussion identified the additional information needed by the group and next steps to take action. This call to action resonated with attendees, reinforcing the idea that community involvement and active participation in the democratic process are essential for driving positive change.

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