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Violence prevention rooted in re-imagined wellness for Black women

Our Mission

Free Root Operation addresses the root causes of gun violence through wellness programming, cultural activations, and a method of critical care, which are substantiated by research centering community wisdom. We take an innovative approach that serves as the nexus between championing Black women and their families and preventative measures of poverty-induced gun violence* that demands integration into culture. Our operation is to restore communities impacted by poverty-induced gun violence to safe, abundant, and liberated sites of Oasis.

*A term coined by our Executive Director, Eva Maria Lewis, to differentiate the epidemic faced by Black people and other communities of color from the gun violence epidemic most discussed on the national agenda.  

Our Team

Centering the Agency and Power of Black Single Moms and Women

Eva Maria Lewis
Founder & Executive Director 

Eva Maria Lewis coined the term and framework, poverty-induced gun violence to differentiate and create language for the gun violence epidemic she saw in communities on the South and West sides of Chicago. She founded Free Root Operation (FRO) as a solution to the PIGV epidemic. An award-winning advocate for Black women, single mothers, and communities impacted by poverty-induced gun violence, Eva Maria’s work is the work of the machete. As she cuts down oppressive structures guided by the power of this tool, she hands it to others to do the same. This philosophy is channeled into her role as Executive Director where she empowers the FRO team, our BLOOM Network, and communities around the country to unleash their power to create change in the face of systemic violence. Learn more and connect with her here.

Raised by: A Black single mom

Hometown: Chicago, by way of South Shore & Woodlawn

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Arianne Elena Payne
Interim Director of Operations

Raised By: A Black Single mom

Hometown: Chicago 

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Our Values

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We believe the liberatory work we pursue is of service to a higher power. We recognize hope as an ancestral cornerstone that has substantiated our lineage. We believe in our people, which is why we remain committed to the work.


We are unafraid to challenge barriers that inhibit our communities. 

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We create new systems, structures, and nettings to sustain care for our communities. There is no precedent to our liberation. 

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We are resilient in the face of adversity. We fight back. 

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We are grounded in the unique needs, histories, and futures of those we serve. These roots are the lens through which we work, wield power, and create lasting change. 

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We believe our work necessitates joy to fuel ourselves and each other as both community members and workers. Without joy, there is no life behind the liberation we work toward. 

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Our Specialized Approach

Critical Care

We provide deep and holistic care to our constituents through transformative healing, small group service, intentional relationship building with every constituent, and self-assessed, assets-based, impact measurement.

Spiritual-Cultural Practice

In alignment with our Faithful value, we create space for cultural practices that uplift the spirit such as prayer, song, and movement. Our approach to harm reduction and healing includes both self-guided and collectively cultivated spiritual care.

human rights informed 

We operate with the understanding that Life, Freedom, Personhood, Equity, Freedom of Movement, Access to Community, Right to Assemble, Economic Agency, Rest, Leisure, Shelter, Food, Clothing, Healthcare, Support for Women and Children, and Education are HUMAN RIGHTS per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948. We understand that our people must have these rights to thrive—we pursue the realization of these rights in our communities through our advocacy and programming.

Social Innovation

We know poverty-induced gun violence stems from divestment in disenfranchised communities through generational communal wisdom. We hold this truth as an invitation to architect social innovations that better serve our communities and challenge preconceived notions existing within the movement to end gun violence and mass media. 

hood research (aka research on the root causes of gun violence)

We conduct qualitative and quantitative research depicting the state of the communities we serve as told by community members. We work with our constituents to collect data showing the relationship between seemingly dissonant factors affecting disenfranchised communities and the gun violence epidemic. In conducting this research, we equip our community and other changemakers to garner support and resources to pursue efforts toward justice and community wellness beyond our immediate geography. People know what they need, we are all tasked to listen.


We engage our community from a perspective centering community strengths over struggles. We exercise compassion for our constituents and support them in securing opportunities that will allow their unique gifts and assets to shine.

culturally aligned 

We seek to embed our work into the existing culture that unites, defines, and develops our broader community. 

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