Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy

SouthWest Organizing Project

Empowering communities since 1980!

aka SWOP

Albuquerque, NM


Working to empower the disenfranchised in the southwest to realize racial and gender equality and social and economic justice.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

George Lujan

Deputy Director

Juan Reynosa

Main Address

211 10th St. SW

Albuquerque, NM 87102 USA


New Mexico, social justice, community organizing, environmental justice, youth organizing, civic engagement, get out the vote





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Minority Rights (R22)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Environmental Quality, Protection, and Beautification N.E.C. (C99)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

New Mexico continues to rank as one of the poorest states in the nation, with disproportionate affects on communities of color. A historically majority people of color state, New Mexico's major social indicators, particularly for young people and other vulnerable demographics, are all at crisis levels, with high food insecurity, criminalization by law enforcement, and unsatisfactory educational outcomes, all of which disproportionately affect families of color. Moreover, the policy decisions concerning these issues are not based in affected communities, and therefore do not reflect their values, culture, and collective knowledge. SWOP is fighting these conditions with an agenda that uplifts our families and young people, recognizes their lived experiences, places them at the center of the conversation on the issues they care about, and develops and implements solutions.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Environmental Justice

Youth Rights Campaign

Gender Justice Campaign

Food Justice Campaign

SWOP Civic Engagement/ArribaNM

Where we work

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

For 40 years, SouthWest Organizing Project’s (SWOP) role in social movements and community organizing has shifted and adapted to the political climate and needs of our communities. We transform alongside our members and partners and prepare for the next strategic moment. As the world changes faster than ever, so does our approach. SWOP’s mission is to “empower disenfranchised communities in the Southwest United States to realize racial and gender equality and social and economic justice.” Today, we build power alongside our members, partners, and allies in three main areas: • Economic Power • Political Power • Cultural Power

To achieve our focus, we have strategically created: • SWOP as an organizing hub for our members, partners and allies • SWOP as a cutting edge community engagement lab that invests in savvy cultural strategies and infrastructure • SWOP as a home-based community and movement building institution We uplift community voices by leveraging strategic partnerships, policies, and systems changes that represent the needs and values of children, families, and our communities.

We develop youth organizers from the barrio to build a thriving community that has economic security, food access and land sovereignty, quality education, respect for culture, and a commitment to equity. Our cutting edge techniques ensure we are always where the community is now and where they’re going next. We design our engagement to reach people who have been deprived of their voice. True change is achieved when communities identify problems and solutions, and have the knowledge and support to act on them. To SWOP, this means creating intergenerational spaces for in-depth conversations of structural racism and the root causes of inequity, in addition to designing policy solutions by first acknowledging our shared racist, colonial past. Communications strategies have dramatically shifted over the last decade. From analog to digital. From legacy to social. From linear to networked. But one thing will always remain constant. Social movements must use organizing and communications strategies to forge a shared language and a vision with communities. At SWOP, we were the first to hire a communications organizer in the US for an organization like ours in the late 90’s, and focused on earned media and experimentation with blogs and the Internet. In the late 2000’s, we built on that work by creating our own content and experimented with social media. Today, we take all we’ve learned to focus on narrative and cultural power to create sustainable change. Over the last 2 years, we created ArribaNM to work with organizers, designers, artists and technologists to build immersive environments and mobile engagement tools to inspire community imagination and civic engagement. This experiment has informed our communications strategies.

Currently, SWOP is experimenting with an inclusive and flexible community-based evaluation model that gathers data traditionally and also through non-traditional methods such as storytelling, observations and interviews. SWOP staff trains members, volunteers, families, and students through a metacognitive framework that embodies a four part intergenerational, inclusive process of awareness, planning, implementation and reflection. We train our young people and community members to use their lived experience to create objectives that are narrow, achievable and both values and evidence based. SWOP engages community members through giving them a voice in all four stages of our planning and implementation process. Our evaluation model is cyclical in that once reflection takes place, the findings are then applied to a renewed cycle beginning with awareness and continuous improvement. SWOP has a keen interest in understanding how the work we do in the community is truly effective and why. We have invested in collectively revising our evaluation tools to help us articulate the quality and direction of our work in a way that centers stakeholders and provides a roadmap to determine our impact.

In the next three years SWOP will reach our 40th anniversary, a major milestone as we advance the mission crafted and pursued by our membership over these past four decades. While our current core program areas continue to be environmental justice, youth rights, feminisms, and food justice, these exist to advance our broader work of leadership development, capacity building, and power building to advance equity and sovereignty in low income communities of color. SWOP's work is built on a foundation of community organizing and mobilization, which means that affected people will continue to identify problems, solutions, and strategies in conjunction with our organizers. Success to us looks like increased community involvement and control over the decision making that affects them. In the next few years this will include advancements in equity for students through policy changes at the district and statewide levels. These issues, like culturally relevant coursework and family engagement, will be advanced through the coalitions we've built over several years and will reflect the Student Bill of Rights that was developed by SWOP youth. Similarly, our work to make the economy fully equitable will be based in the lived experiences and voices of working families. SWOP and our membership intend to take advantage of progressive leadership changes in the state, including the Governor's administration and the Mayor's administration in Albuquerque. We have a track record of mobilizing community to hold corporations accountable, and to prevent poor policy decisions. This area of work is a consistent partner with our environmental justice work area, as we combine defensive and visionary campaigns to create a more healthy environment for New Mexicans. Another indicator of success to SWOP is the impact of leadership development practices. Dozens of former SWOP interns now serve in various roles around the state, in government, nonprofit, and private sectors. Many former youth members now lead their own campaigns, and contribute to SWOP every year. New Mexico will rise when organizers of color are well represented in decision making positions at large organizations and national campaigns, as well as community-based issue campaigns. This is a longtime focus of SWOP, and informs our work to this day. We will place homegrown youth and organizers where they can impact a number of campaigns, including the education reforms that will result from the PED lawsuit led by NM Center on Law and Poverty and. SWOP fuses the efforts of local organizers with broad policy initiatives to have impact across the state's organizing spectrum. SWOP elevates community voice to improve campaigns of all sizes, from the hyperlocal to the global. We pursue victories in our organizing not only to create grassroots change, but also to build the vehicle that carries forward our long-term strategy to unify work across communities.

External Reviews


Juan Jose Pena Activist Award 2019

El Centro de La Raza

Community Award 2019

National Association of Chicano and Chicana Studies

Affiliations & Memberships

Grassroots Global Justice 2000

Climate Justice Alliance 2013

People's Action 2015

May First Movement Technology 2012



SouthWest Organizing Project

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

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  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

See what's included

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? This organization has voluntarily shared information to answer this important question and to support sector-wide learning. GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/18/2019


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & Ethnicity
Gender Identity

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & Ethnicity
Gender Identity

Race & Ethnicity

Chicana,Chicana Chicano,Mexicana,Mexicana,Palestinian,Palestinian

Gender Identity

No data

Sexual Orientation

No data


No data