Building the Power of Parents

COFI trains parents to be powerful leaders and COFI-trained parents accomplish great things.

Who We Are

COFI strengthens the power and voice of low-income families in all areas of civic life—from local institutions and communities to state and federal policy arenas.

  • Trained 6,415 parents

    in Illinois and across the nation in more than 50 communities at hundreds of school and community sites

  • Reformed Chicago municipal fees and fines,

    eliminating 13,731 tickets and reducing $5.2 million in debt

  • Reinstated recess

    for 266,000+ elementary school students

  • Expanded SNAP benefits

    (formerly called “food stamps”) for 40,000 Illinois families

  • Rewrote the Student Code of Conduct

    with a philosophy of restorative justice

  • An icon of a home with a heart inside

    Knocked on 44,341 doors

    to refer children ages zero to five to Early Learning programs in 2022

Our Impact

What We Do

The COFI Way

A proven, family-focused organizing model for how people who are outside the centers of power become leaders, build organizations, and win.

Self, Family & Team + Team Building

Leadership begins from within. It starts with a parent’s personal, family, and community goals.

Community Outreach & Action

Building community partnerships and bringing parent leaders together around common goals.

Policy & Systems Change

Uniting parents across race and community to work with decision-makers to make real and lasting policy and systems change.

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How We Do It

Get Training

We’ll share what we’ve learned about building parents’ power so you can incorporate The COFI Way into your own efforts.

COFI Center for Action and Learning

Our hands-on, practical workshops are designed specifically for community organizers, social service providers, school administrators, advocates, policymakers, and veteran parent leaders around the country.

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New Guide: “We’re Glad You Asked!”

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Meet The Parents

Their inspiring stories of passion, persistence, and courage are the heart of COFI. 

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  • Parents are really the true champions, the true fighters. That gives me the fuel that I need to be able to push while I'm here in Springfield.

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    Cristina Pacione-Zayas

    City of Chicago First Deputy Chief of Staff (and former Illinois State Senator)
  • COFI parent leaders bring voice to parent concerns, including parents who are not able to or confident sharing their own feedback. 

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    Dr. Jennifer Norrell

    Superintendent, East Aurora School District 131
  • All the stories I've had the privilege of hearing from COFI parents have stuck with me. No matter the venue, I've had some of the best moments of my career with COFI parents.

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    Jenna Severson

    Communications Manager, Economic Security for Illinois
  • They are persistent on the issue and are respectful about working with us to find solutions because we’re losing too many kids.

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    Ernesto Matias

    Chief Education Officer, Illinois State Board of Education
  • You can respect parents' judgment and believe what they say. They are willing to work in the trenches, not just show up for photo-ops.

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    Senator Kimberly Lightford

    Majority Leader, Illinois General Assembly
  • The people in community–you build on those assets. You develop your assets and they become your ambassadors. That’s what distinguishes COFI from other places.

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    Carlos Azcoitia

    Professor Emeritus, National Louis University
  • We were pointing at data. Rosazlia was always the person who would distill it down to how it was going to help parents.

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    Tawa Jogunosimi

    Senior Program Officer, MacArthur Foundation
  • Bringing parents through the process that COFI does has shown success that I haven’t seen much of elsewhere.

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    Nancy Shier

    Retired Vice President of Illinois Policy, Start Early
  • COFI’s approach is to say, "Hey, there’s a problem. Let’s figure out how to solve it." And their parent leaders are the ones who give the perspective.

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    James Bebley

    Acting CEO, Chicago Housing Authority

What’s Happening

Get the latest news on campaigns, victories, trainings, and events.