COFI trains great leaders


The COFI Way is rooted in a vision of building a broad movement of parent leaders working for economic, racial and social justice for families.

For nearly 25 years, COFI has been building the leadership, power and voice of low-income parents (primarily mothers and grandmothers) to improve life opportunities for children and families.

COFI’s innovative parent leadership and community organizing model Family Focused Organizing, has engaged thousands of low-income African American and Latino parents in improving preschools, schools, communities and public policies in Chicago, throughout Illinois and beyond.

Using a multi-step process, these grassroots parent leaders have made major changes in public policies and systems that make a difference for low-income families, including winning the return of recess to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the banning of suspensions for children younger than second grade and convincing CPS to adopt restorative justice and scrap its zero tolerance policy, and creating and winning support for a program in which parents go door-to-door in low-income communities to connect families with high quality early education programs.

Three strategies

COFI uses three strategies to implement Family Focused Organizing:

1. Local Organizing

We train and organize neighborhood and school-based parent teams  to take action on issues they identify as important to improving life outcomes for children.

2. Policy and Systems Change Organizing

We support cross-community parent-led organizing, to have the power to change the way things get done. In Chicago,  POWER-PAC IL unites parent leaders across neighborhoods, race and ethnicity to impact policy changes of priority benefit to children and families such as preschool access and eliminating the school to prison pipeline.

3. Sharing the Learning

The COFI Institute provides training and resources to others, and engages other parent-led organizations around the country.  Share-the-Learning is how we and other organizations adapt and replicate COFI’s work.