About Us

New Community Outreach creates restorative spaces for healing, reconciliation and flourishing.

We are a community based, non-profit organization committed to Bronzeville’s youth and community. We collaborate with residents and organizations on the South Side of Chicago to provide programs, host events and respond to community-identified opportunities.

Vision:

We envision a Bronzeville where youth and other community members meet trauma with restorative justice in order to renew the relationships (with ourselves, our neighbors, and our environments) which lead to our individual and collective flourishing.

Our commitment to restorative justice drives the work of our organization. Born out of the ministry of New Community Covenant Church, we lead restorative justice programming utilizing the circle process for high school students at Bronzeville high schools, maintain a community garden in order to provide fresh produce to our neighbors, and organizes & hosts a community-wide back-to-school fair, among other neighborhood initiatives.

Our work depends on trusted partnerships with neighborhood residents, community organizations, and schools in the greater Bronzeville community; we are intentional to allow space to be responsive to the needs of our community as they rise.

Read more about our programs and initiatives.

Everything we do is shaped by our values.

Values:

  • Sankofa: We build on the foundation of our community’s history.
  • Healing-Centered: We ground our practices in the understanding that holistic restoration from trauma occurs collectively in community and always with abundance (of strengths, skills, talents, interests, and competencies) as a starting point.
  • Reconciliation: We confront violence, segregation, and racism as harms opposed to flourishing.
  • Justice: We fight the root causes of inequity and poverty in pursuit of peace.
  • Youth: We focus our efforts on uncovering opportunities and exposing challenges facing young people.
  • Collaboration: We learn from, work with, and support our community partners.
  • Receptivity: We assess and adapt our programs to maximize effectiveness.
  • Hope: We orient our attitudes and efforts toward a hopeful future.

Programs & Initiatives

Knowledge Empowers Youth (KEY) School Year Program

The KEY Program utilizes the circle process, a restorative justice practice, which invites students to process their feelings, experiences, and circumstances in a designated, consistent safe space. The program addresses trauma of all kinds, specifically gun violence, and intentionally builds students’ toolbox of mindfulness, healthy coping skills, and opportunities to flourish by tapping into students’ strengths.

The KEY Program has been at Walter H. Dyett High School for the Performing Arts since 2018 and at Daniel Hale Williams Preparatory School of Medicine since 2020. In addition to weekly programming, KEY builds up leadership and community engagement in students through hosting student-led events, such as a community art show and community giveback projects, and increasing their understanding and knowledge of their identity & community using an original curriculum.

The KEY Program will continue to provide regular circles as well as mentoring and tangible care for our youth in Bronzeville in the 2021-2022 school year.

“KEY allowed me to really look inside myself and think about others' situations compared to mine. It also made me think about the type of person I’ll become…” (Audrey, 9th Grade)

“I grew a lot participating in this program. The mentors that are there have just pushed me to be better and do better. I am so grateful for this experience!!!” (Jacinta, 9th Grade)

“I’ve become more open minded to things and more accepting to other people.” (Jonathan, 10th Grade)

“The program really helped me become a better person. I started the program a very depressed person ready to give up. However, everything changed when I started talking to someone about my problems and opening up more. I am very grateful for people like you.” (Alexa, 12th Grade)

For more information about the KEY Program, or to learn about bringing the program to your school, please email Sonia Wang.

KEY Summer Leadership Program

The KEY Summer Leadership Program (SLP) is an invitation for young people to engage in restorative justice through reflection on their identity & feelings while developing leadership skills and learning about social [in]justice issues, Chicago the community, and being change agents. The program is centered around the planning & implementation of a community giveback project, giving youth the opportunity to engage with neighbors in a new way and understand their role in building a stronger, more resilient community.

During the 7-week program, SLP builds on the trusted community students have contributed to and grows their professionalism. Participation in this program will lead to a stipend as well as the opportunity to receive further training in restorative justice in order to serve as NCO KEY interns.

Congratulations to our SLP 2021 Cohort for completing the summer program. For their capstone community giveback projects, our youth leaders developed and implemented a plan to raise awareness of the importance of taking care of our mental health and the resources that are available to community members. After securing support from the Chicago Bulls through a formal pitch, SLP participants and interns hosted a mental health resource event at Mandrake Park. Youth leaders hosted four stations: coping resources, statistics & local resources, games, and snacks & prizes to share with attendees. Over 40 community members stopped by and engaged in the event! Read more about our program and our cohort’s project in this article published in the South Side Weekly.

This year we are proud to have three interns join our 2021 SLP staff:

Congratulations to the 2021 KEY Summer Leadership Program Participants!

Top Row L to R: Troy Bell (11th), Dakayla Canty (10th), Tatiana Carter (10th)
Middle Row L to R: Trinity Johnson (10th), Favour Olatunde (12th), Mia Riley (10th)
Bottom Row L to R: Gionna Shack (10th), Honest Ware (10th), Valencia Williams (12th)

Garden to Table Program

The Garden to Table Program commits to growing as much food through our community garden and distributing fresh produce to our greater Bronzeville neighbors. NCO manages and maintains a community garden in partnership with Jackie Robinson Elementary School. This community garden is tended to by our volunteers and then weekly, we harvest to provide fresh produce to our neighbors through contactless distributions throughout the summer/fall season. Through additional partnerships, The Farm and New Community Covenant Church-Bronzeville, we will continue to distribute non-perishable care packages as well as provide additional produce to our Bronzeville neighbors on a regular basis.

The southside of Chicago continues to be a region where food deserts remain an obstacle to its residents. Through our garden program, we aim to contribute in a small way to make fresh produce available and accessible at no cost to all of our neighbors. There is no stipulation or requirements of community members in order to receive produce on distribution days.

If you are interested in receiving free produce, please join our message center by texting @NCOGarden to 81010 (see flier) to receive notifications. Distributions take place every Saturday from 10-11am at Robinson Elementary, through October.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Garden to Table program, please complete this sign up form.

Back to School Fun Fair

Back to School Fun Fair

Every year, New Community Outreach sponsors a back to school fun fair for students in the greater Bronzeville neighborhood to encourage and energize students and their families as they prepare for the next school year. It takes place in the outdoor space at one of our partner schools, Jackie Robinson Elementary.

During this event, we distribute free backpacks and school supplies as well as share information about community resources and programs from our partner organizations. In the past, this is a time for community members to come together to eat, play games, dance, and have a good time as we wind the summer down and welcome the new school year.

Thank you to everyone for joining us for this year’s Back to School Fun Fair! We hosted over 250 students, community members, and volunteers. We’re grateful for all of our amazing community partners, including Aetna Better Health, Ald. King & 4th Ward Office, Bright Star Community Outreach, Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Public Library, Hinsdale Covenant Church, Intonation Music, New Community Covenant Church, Open Books, UChicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital, and especially Jackie Robinson Elementary School! We’ll see you next year!

Back to School Fun Fair

Partner With Us

Collaboration is in our DNA. Our work depends on trusted partnerships with neighborhood residents, civic organizations, charitable foundations, and long-distance friends who believe in our mission. You can participate by:

Commit to monthly donations or a one time gift:

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Sign up for our quarterly newsletter:

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Volunteer for upcoming projects in the Bronzeville community:

Volunteer

Our Leadership

Sonia Wang

Sonia Wang

Executive Director

sonia@newcommunityoutreach.org

Sonia brings her commitment to social justice to her work by prioritizing opportunities to develop and foster one's voice as a means to advocate for one's needs as a learner and participant in the larger democracy. Drawing from almost 15 years of experience as a classroom teacher and school administrator on the southside of Chicago as well as her work in educational non-profit organizations, Sonia grounds herself in the important values of creativity, transparency, and humanity as a starting point for the outflow of all things in order to positively contribute to and effect change in our greater society.

Sonia received her Bachelor's Degree in Comparative Human Development from the University of Chicago. Then as a Rockefeller Brothers Fellow, she continued on to receive her MAT in Elementary Education from the Urban Teacher Education Program at the University of Chicago. She has worked in schools in West Englewood, Woodlawn, and North Lawndale, in both the middle and high school levels, in a variety of roles including English teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal and principal. She is also the co-founder of Be the Change Collaborative, a teacher professional development organization. In any role she assumes, she is committed to creating safe and collaborative spaces for learning and growth for students, staff, and the community at large.

Sonia is a founding member of New Community Covenant Church, where she has served on our Leadership Team as the chairperson and serves in different ways, more recently as a Community Group Leader. While Gandhi's call to "be the change" has been with her from her journey as an educator, more recently Sonia draws from James Baldwin's important reminder that "The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you can alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change the world."

Karlos Dodson

Karlos Dodson

Board of Directors Chairperson

Karlos Dodson is the husband to Pastor Michelle Dodson and the father to two lovely daughters. He is a senior management and information technology analyst for the U.S. Federal Government. He is also a board member for a small private school in the Bronzeville neighborhood in Chicago. He graduated with high honors from the University of Memphis in Business Administration and also has a Master of Business Administration from DePaul University. He is currently finishing up a Master of Science degree in Data Analytics at the University of Chicago.

David Swanson

David Swanson

Founder

david@newcommunityoutreach.org

David is the founding pastor of New Community Covenant Church in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. He is a member of the Bronzeville Community Action Council, The Urban Resilience Network, and a racial reconciliation facilitator with the Evangelical Covenant Church. David is a graduate of Montreat College and Wheaton College Graduate School. He writes and speaks extensively on the topics of community development, racial reconciliation, and justice.


Board of Directors

Krystle Kim, Treasurer

Open Books


Sandra Rodgers

HillRom


Jonathan White

Chicago Public Schools


Alicia Locher

Google


Derrick Dunn

Comcast


Jennifer Dorrough

PLZ Aeroscience


Colby Mecher

Mecher Custom Woodworking



Photos

Contact Us

info@newcommunityoutreach.org

3627 S Cottage Grove Ave
Chicago, IL 60653

(312) 985-6073