COFI Timeline


COFI founded with a Sponsoring Committee of 18 prominent and visionary leaders –

including former community organizer President Barack Obama!

1995-first-parent-trainingFirst parent training begins in Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago.


Training expands to West Town and Humboldt Park.

First meeting to bring together parent leaders across communities.

1997-CanvassingCommunity outreach phase: parents canvassing door to door.


1998-First-parent-peer-trainingFirst parent peer training.


Training expands to three new communities.

Holds first Celebration of Hope, bringing together parents from six communities.


Parents win commitment from Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan to Support 100 Community Schools.

Training begins in Englewood.

First “Moms on a Mission” day in Springfield.

Publishes report, “Putting Families at the Center of Community Action.”

2002-ArneDuncan-meetingParents meet with then Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan.


2001-Lobby-Day-LightfordFirst Springfield Family Lobby Day, with State Senator Kimberly Lightford.


POWER-PAC founded by parents citywide.

POWER-PAC voting to choose its name.POWER-PAC votes to choose its name at the founding retreat.

1,300 parents trained at this point.

Formal evaluation completed.

First training of parents outside Chicago.


POWER-PAC launches the Elementary Justice Campaign: Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline, a call for an end to out-of-school suspensions and a return of recess

Phase One and Phase Two training/organizing manuals published.

Begins testing national training through the launch of the COFI Institute for Family Focused Organizing.

CelebratingTogether-COFI10thCOFI celebrates 10th anniversary!

Watch COFI’s 10th Anniversary Video: Celebrating 10 Years of Family Focused Organizing 


Wins removal of “zero tolerance” language, replaced by a philosophy of “restorative justice” in Chicago Public School Student Code of Conduct.

Wins seed funds to launch first Peace Centers.


Releases “Why Isn’t Johnny in Preschool?” report.

Launches the Early Learning Campaign.

Wins seed funds to launch Head Start Ambassador and Walking Preschool Bus projects.

HeadStartTable2012Parents run a Head Start outreach tent.

Training expands to Lawndale, Cabrini and Bronzeville.

Website launched.

Stepping Out of Poverty Campaign begins.


Early Learning Campaign wins shift in state policies to reach the “hard-to-reach.”

“Parent Guide to Restorative Justice” released.

300 parents trained in restorative justice practices.

COFI Institute begins regular annual calendar of national trainings.


The parent-led policy action council, POWER-PAC, celebrates 10th anniversary.

Action COHWins return of recess for all Chicago elementary schools.

Launches Food Ambassador program.

Releases “How We Got Johnny, Jada and José into Preschool” report.

Expands training to three downstate, two suburban and three out-of-state sites.


Policy and Systems Change The COFI WayReleases “The COFI Way: Policy & Systems Change” Report.

Expansion/replication projects targeting parents of young children begin in four new communities across Illinois.



COFI celebrates its 20th anniversary.