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Southwest Improvement Council Records

Identifier: WH2468

Scope and Contents

The largest portion of this collection is comprised of Board Meeting notebooks that include information about Executive Director Jan Belle and programming she implemented, and business meeting and activity records of the Board of Directors. Also included are financial documentation especially pertaining to the Southwest Neighborhood Housing Corporation and the Rio de Esperanza family housing complex, service statistics, grants and funding proposals, information about SWIC programs, program flyers, documents regarding the Westwood Community Center including lease agreements and renovations, strategic plans, neighborhood demographics, zoning and zoning appeals documents. The bulk of materials span 1988 to 2018. Records detailing the Southwest Community Center (to become the Westwood Community Center under SWIC stewardship in 1993) include materials such as meeting minutes and agendas, reports, lease agreements, correspondence, funding and grant proposals, financial documents, program information, and memorandums. These records cover a time period of 1965 to 1990.

Other materials include newspaper clippings regarding SWIC or issues that concern SWIC, scrapbooks and promotional materials, newsletters, awards, documents illustrating collaboration with other neighborhood organizations, records of Executive Director Jan Belle’s involvement with other groups such as the Metropolitan Organizations for People and the Social Concerns Committee. Some of these documents trace Jan Belle’s work before she helped found SWIC in 1987. Also included are photographs documenting SWIC members, events, community service, the Westwood neighborhood, and the Westwood Community Center. Most photographs document SWIC in the 1990s but a few span from the 1970s to 2008.


  • 1961-2018


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Biographical / Historical

The Southwest Improvement Council, commonly referred to by its acronym, SWIC, was established in 1987 as a grassroots organization in Southwest Denver, Colorado. Longtime Executive Director Jan Belle was instrumental establishing SWIC as an incorporated nonprofit organization. Prior to establishing SWIC, Jan Belle had been the coordinator for the Social Concerns Committee at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. As an organization, SWIC advocates for the residents of Southwest Denver and aims to improve the lives and neighborhoods of its residents. SWIC provides a variety of programs and advocacy services in the areas of affordable housing, housing counseling, graffiti and neighborhood clean-up, elderly home care, home repair, community gardens, and snow removal among others.

The Westwood Community Center began as the Grace Community Center in the 1930s before moving to Westwood in 1957 and becoming the Southwest Community Center. The Center came under control of the City of Denver in the 1970s and experienced financial and internal upheaval in the 1980s. SWIC operated out of the Westwood Community Center beginning in 1993. The Westwood Community Center underwent a major building renovation in 2008 under the stewardship of SWIC. Today, funding for SWIC is provided by Mile High United Way, grants and donors. Today (in 2021), SWIC operates in a public/non-profit partnership with the City of Denver. SWIC offers services open to all, without membership fees.

In 1995, SWIC formed a development group called the Southwest Neighborhood Housing Corporation (SWNHC) in order to increase the availability of affordable housing in Southwest Denver. The Rio de Esperanza family housing development is one of the housing options made available to the Southwest Denver community. In addition, SWIC has worked with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the National Council of La Raza to provide housing counseling and homeownership services. SWIC has also advocated for residents on issues such as a controversial transmission line project planned by Xcel energy in the early 2000s. SWIC has had a fruitful, collaborative relationship with a variety of other neighborhood organizations such as the Ruby Hill and Athmar Park Neighborhood Organizations. The SWIC Neighborhood Advisory Council focuses on issues that affect Southwest Denver Neighborhoods and advocates on their behalf with city agencies and other parties.


17 Boxes (17 linear feet)

1 OVBox

1 AVBox

6 Photo Boxes

157 Megabytes

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift; Larry Ambrase; 2021.

Physical Description

The collection is in good condition.


Catalog record based on preliminary inventory.

Betsey Yadon
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States