Blocks Together

Blocks Together Since 1993, BT has been dedicated to
fighting for justice by developing
grassroots leadership and organizing
residents to create systemic change.
(21)

BT members are anyone who lives, works, worships, attends schools
or accesses services in W. Humboldt Park. We believe that by
working together, residents can improve their community's social,
economic and physical conditions, and address broader policy
issues. BT aims to unite community members across lines of class,
race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, language and national orgin to
identify and challenge the struggles we face collectively. BT balances traditional skills-based organizing trainings with political
education, providing a foundation for it's members to understand,
analyze, and confront the structures of power that impact their lives. Through this process of leaderships development, members create a
shared social justice vision that informs how BT designs campaigns,
holds public officals accountable, and works to eliminate
oppressions within and beyond the boundaries of their communities. With all of our organizing campaigns, BT seeks to fundamentally
change people's perception of their own power. Direct-action
organizing is a vehicle through which affected people can realize
their own power by disrupting dominant injustices of everyday life to
offer potential ways to reorganize society, and therby understand
their role through participating in that change. Besides impacting policies and practices through organizing, BT
offers people the opportunity to proactively arcitulate their vision of
social justice and assert their principles and values for public
contention. Through action, analyis and leadership we hope to
create change at structural, institutional and personal levels.

Operating as usual

06/26/2019
Blocks Together

we heard you. We will wait till Friday to pull the winning tickets

06/26/2019
05/28/2019

Today from 4-7 pm
BT's Torrence Shorter Legal Clinic will be taking walk in appointments
3711 W Chicago Ave.

Blocks Together
03/14/2019

Blocks Together

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campaigns that she has been apart of.
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When Cecile joined Blocks Together, the West Humboldt Park community, like other low income communities of color, had been impacted by school closures. West Humboldt Park had lost two high performing schools because of the policy practice of “closing under-enrolled schools”. While parts of West Humboldt Park experienced some population loss other parts of were experiencing over enrollment. In 2009 we worked with the local legislators at the time to try to intervene against the 2010 school closures with a state moratorium. Chicago Public School's challenged the move and instead a Task Force to study overall Facility issues in the district was created; the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force. Cecile served on this Task Force with other groups and we worked for years to develop legislation inspired by focus groups, surveys, and meetings from students, teachers, principals, and parents impacted by school closures, overcrowded schools, and schools in disrepair. In 2011 Public Act 097-0474 was finally passed. The bill required CPS:
- Let school communities know if they may be closed by Dec 1st of every year in order for families to get advanced notice to move
- Develop a utilization rate review process
- Require bi-annual building assessments
- Make Building Assessments online for public view
- Require community meetings before school closures
- Develop a 10 year Master Facility Plan
- Require transparent Capital Budget

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campa...
03/13/2019

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campaigns that she has been apart of.
***************************************************************
When Cecile joined Blocks Together, the West Humboldt Park community, like other low income communities of color, had been impacted by school closures. West Humboldt Park had lost two high performing schools because of the policy practice of “closing under-enrolled schools”. While parts of West Humboldt Park experienced some population loss other parts of were experiencing over enrollment. In 2009 we worked with the local legislators at the time to try to intervene against the 2010 school closures with a state moratorium. Chicago Public School's challenged the move and instead a Task Force to study overall Facility issues in the district was created; the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force. Cecile served on this Task Force with other groups and we worked for years to develop legislation inspired by focus groups, surveys, and meetings from students, teachers, principals, and parents impacted by school closures, overcrowded schools, and schools in disrepair. In 2011 Public Act 097-0474 was finally passed. The bill required CPS:
- Let school communities know if they may be closed by Dec 1st of every year in order for families to get advanced notice to move
- Develop a utilization rate review process
- Require bi-annual building assessments
- Make Building Assessments online for public view
- Require community meetings before school closures
- Develop a 10 year Master Facility Plan
- Require transparent Capital Budget

03/13/2019
www.btchicago.org

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campaigns that she has been apart of.

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Blocks Together worked with residents since 2008 to “follow the money” when it came to our local -school investments and property tax. Residents studied together with Blocks Together staff in finding where property tax dollars are diverted, and 11 years ago begin to unfold the story of Tax Increment Financing. Since this work has started the Blocks Together was at the forefront of getting TIF transparency of property tax bills, advocating for funds for community needs, denied groups that would agree to a Community Benefit Agreements, creating a TIF Advisory Council, and then…in 2014 we worked with residents and the alderman to organize a Participatory Budget initiative with $2 million in TIF funds. From this residents helped to create and then mobilize other residents to vote for economic development projects. This has been the only time in Chicago that this has happened.

Here is a report on Blocks Together's TIF community organizing published in 2016.

http://www.btchicago.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/tif-pb-toolkit-june-2016.pdf

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campa...
03/13/2019

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campaigns that she has been apart of.
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Blocks Together has called out zero tolerance and criminalization of youth since before 2008. This included school based work to bring restorative justice in local schools, changing the student code of conduct with other groups…however one thing we learned is that we create change in local institutions but the larger community needs support. The Village Keepers initiative was born out of this notion in 2015. The Village Keepers initiative works with youth, residents, and parents on a community level to teach them about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, ways to address trauma, local resources for themselves and peers, and leadership development. BT has trained over 75 VK’s in the last three years and has impacted over 500 residents through organized events by Village Keepers and community building events.

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campa...
03/13/2019

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campaigns that she has been apart of.
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Not only has Blocks Together organized against what should not be done to neighborhood schools, but also what can work. In coalition with other groups across the City we have worked to advocate for resources for local schools. This has included social emotional programming that Blocks Together has supported and advocated for in schools, training for teachers, and accountability for administrations. In 2018 Blocks Together was a part of community organizations that finally won the reform effort called, “Sustainable School Transformation” or “Sustainable Community Schools”. This model supports with wrap around services, professional development, parent engaged restorative practices, social emotional support services, and after school programming. BT is partnering with Cameron Elementary School and Beilder School with innovative restorative programming from trauma informed strategies, culturally relevant after school programming, and parental leadership in schools serving over 1,200 students.

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campa...
03/13/2019

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campaigns that she has been apart of.
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Not only has Cameron Elementary School been a school close to Blocks Together. The Cameron school community is full with a fighting community working to make a school community that all children deserve. The parents of the community along with the administration have created a partnership with Blocks Together that has not just created great restorative justice, and trauma informed work, but we worked alongside the parents to win over $10 million in capital improvements for the school. In 2010 the school had a severe leaking roof, no doors on the bathroom, and peeling paint. The parents were relentless, we supported with training, education, and research.

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campa...
03/13/2019

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campaigns that she has been apart of.
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The work of Restorative Justice is a social justice tool. It calls out implicit bias, inequities, and seeks to actually address the trauma of poverty and violence versus punishing and continuing the school to prison pipeline. This has been so important to Blocks Together as a means to reducing criminalization and supporting youth development. Blocks Together worked on school based approach introducing restorative justice as a means for stopping unfair school suspensions at an elementary schools. From there we worked with then CEO of Chicago Public Schools Arne Duncan to reform the student code of conduct. However RJ as a tool needed more advocacy. We have worked with Cameron Elementary school in partnership with parents, students, teachers, and administrators and piloted the first RJ dean initiative in an elementary school. We have ran peer juries, peace circles, and teacher support. Now with the Sustainable Community Schools we are able to elevate our efforts with wellness support and trauma informed approaches in the school.

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campa...
03/13/2019

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campaigns that she has been apart of.
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Despite the legislative efforts with Public Act 097-0474 passed in 2011, Chicago Public Schools in coordination with City Hall leadership still found ways to close performing schools that were underutilized under the flawed form. This included special legislative permission to override the act for the 2013 mass school closures. After school closures continued, and capital funds were being redirected to schools that were not in need. In 2018 BT worked with parents and groups to close some of the loop holes with Public Act 100-0965. The act was passed Fall 2018 supporting interventions for school closures making them the last resort as oppose to sudden actions. This will prevent schools with declining enrollment being neglected until actions are determined, but instead requires the district to either support with new academic programming, joint use with outside entities, and consolidation. Research continues to show that school closures does not improve academic performance and cannot be a reform measure.

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campa...
03/13/2019

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campaigns that she has been apart of.
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Orr High School and Blocks Together have a unique history. BT staff has been at the forefront of the holding the Academy of Urban School Leadership admin team accountable to the success of the school confronting leadership with the issues around discipline, academic performance, and wrap around services for students.

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campa...
03/13/2019
www.isbe.net

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campaigns that she has been apart of.
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Ryerson Elementary School had been a school in West Humboldt Park for over 100 year. It has had some challenges as the community has had challenges. In 2007 new leadership and strong parent participation helped to lift that school out of academic probation in what is a high crime and high poverty community through innovative strategies. In 2013 Ryerson was closed-stated to be an underutilized and underperforming school. Which was not the case…In 2014 Blocks Together wrote the first analysis of the impact of the mass school closures showing the negative impact and the story of Ryerson Elementary School.

https://www.isbe.net/Documents/ceftf-annual-rpt12-13.pdf

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campa...
03/13/2019

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campaigns that she has been apart of.
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Despite how things have been shaped by decision makers, the district has closed schools in political interests over best practice. In winter 2011 the district decided to turnaround Piccolo Elementary School a feeder to the Orr AUSL school. In 2011 community groups had been working together to support Piccolo with social workers, after school programming, and increased parent engagement. With a new Principal in place Fall 2011…with all the positive direction and new leadership after three months district announced the school turnaround to fire all teachers and staff. It was unfair…especially after the problematic turnaround of Orr High School. With that parents decide we were not going to go down with out a fight and started a 22 hour occupation of the building until a Chicago Board of Education rep came to negotiate.

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campa...
03/13/2019

March 13th is Cecile De Mello's 11 years of community organizing at Blocks Together. Here are 11 Highlights of the campaigns that she has been apart of.
********************************************************************************

Capital Improvements for local schools is not something that comes naturally to the district. Countless schools communities advocate for common sense repairs and needs. BT has worked with Alderman, State legislators, and CPS to win a total of $14 million in improvements for local schools. And continuing to support Capital funds going to communities in need for repairs. This has included pushing against decisions to redirect funds to projects that go to the affluent communities basically at the expense of schools in low income communities.

Alliance for Educational Justice
09/17/2018

Alliance for Educational Justice

Today, we release our We Came to Learn: A Call for Police-Free Schools national report and action kit, in collaboration with the Advancement Project (DC). This report has been a long time coming. Over the last 3 years, the Alliance and our member organizations have taken the charge to protect Black youth, to protect all young people of color from state violence at the hands of school police. Here are your voices. Here lives your campaigns. This is yours.

Safety does not exist when Black and Brown young people are forced to interact with a system of policing that views them as a threat and not as students. We call for the complete removal of police from schools: http://bit.ly/2MqLCND

#EndWarOnYouth #PoliceFreeSchools #WeCameToLearn

Blocks Together is excited to work with two local schools in our community Camerin and Biedler Elementary Schools. Susta...
08/08/2018
The Chicago Sun-Times

Blocks Together is excited to work with two local schools in our community Camerin and Biedler Elementary Schools. Sustainable Community Schools should have been a strategy used across the our district. Support our local schools with more resources instead of continued cuts and destablization. Let us know if you want to be involved on either schools.

Twenty elementary and high schools will share a $10 million community schools investment to pilot extra services for students and families.

Blocks Together's cover photo
07/05/2018

Blocks Together's cover photo

05/21/2018

Join me in Congratulating BT Youth whose work and research on the gang database led Senator Van Pelt to introduce legislation that would:
:
1. Creates rules around how local law enforcement agencies handle shared gang databases.
2. Requires the Illinois State Police to create a system of notifying people they’ve been added to a local law enforcement agency shared gang database. Requires the state police to create an appeals process so that people’s names can be removed if they’ve been added incorrectly and allows a person to petition the court if their appeal is denied by the state police.
3.Creates the Gang Database Technical Advisory Task Force, which will advise the Illinois State Police on rules, oversight, operation and implementation of this act.
4.Requires that all shared gang databases in Illinois be frozen on Jan. 1, 2019. No one can be added to the gang databases until the controlling law enforcement agency has purged all people who should not be on the list and the Illinois attorney general has certified this has been done.
5.Requires the Illinois State Police to audit all shared gang databases to certify that the people who’ve been added to them should be on them.
6. Limits gang database access to only law enforcement and their support staff, and restricts the information from being used in employer background checks or by federal immigration officials.
Although our campaign work is to end the Gang data base, this a step in the right direction.

Chicago Public Schools continues to make decisions with buildings that have impacted communities. From school closures t...
04/03/2018

Chicago Public Schools continues to make decisions with buildings that have impacted communities. From school closures to school openings to vacant schools and school building repairs- there must be more community input, transparency, and planning with parents and staff to prevent massive educational disturbance.

Please call your state legislator and write a witness slip for your support for House Bill 5721. What will HB 5721 do?

• Ensures that all CPS funded school communities have advanced notice of any school actions similar to the December 1st deadline for other CPS schools, allowing for families that may be impacted know before school admission deadlines pass.
• Requires improved long term planning should incorporate as much data and information to support schools in the best planning for academic success.
• Requires more public input for the CPS capital.
• Adds more evaluation for students impacted by school actions.
• More community input in the long term planning for school communities avoiding facility decisions that can negatively impact students.
• Advanced planning to prevent vacant schools through advanced planning of potential school vacancies.
• Work with school communities experiencing under enrollment.

Address

3711 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL
60651

Opening Hours

Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(773) 940-2319

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Blocks Together

Blocks Together (BT) is a membership-based community organizing group in the West Humboldt Park (WHP) neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side. Since 1995, BT has empowered residents to work together for systematic changes that bring concrete improvement to their lives. We tackle social justice issues relating to education, housing, economic justice and the criminalization of youth. We frame our work through the lens of racial justice and human rights and we emphasize ongoing political education and connection of our campaigns to broader social justice movements.

BT members are individuals who work, worship, live, access services or go to school in West Humboldt Park. BT is firmly committed to the idea that collective leadership by those most affected by an issue is the way to build lasting change. Members lead at every level of the organization. At the committee level they determine all campaign issues to be addressed, develop and carry out strategies and do ongoing base-building. The Board of Directors is composed entirely of our most dedicated members from each committee (including youth members) that have been elected by the membership to oversee the organization as a whole.

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