COFI’s mission is to build the power and voice of parents, primarily mothers and grandmothers from Black and Brown communities, to shape the public decisions that affect their lives and the lives of their families. 

Parent leadership, every step of the way
We envision a world with racial, economic, and educational justice where all children and families have an equal opportunity to succeed in life.

COFI has trained and organized thousands of parents in some of the toughest neighborhoods anywhere. COFI recognizes that:

  • Parents, as leaders of families, are “natural” community and policy leaders, if given the chance.
  • Parents, as leaders, will prioritize an action agenda that focuses on improving the community’s support of children and families and addressing racial and economic inequities that limit life opportunities for their children.
  • Parents have the right and the capacity to participate in the decisions that directly affect them, including public policy decisions.

Significant barriers to parent participation exist in family service programs, school systems, government agencies, and community and advocacy organizations. COFI’s innovative family focused organizing model, The COFI Way, provides leadership development and organizing support to overcome those barriers and assure parent participation and partnership.

Family-focused organizing transforms communities

The COFI Way emphasizes the interconnection between personal struggles and broader community issues and builds capacity for parent leaders to address these issues through collective action. Through The COFI Way, parents develop skills, confidence, and the organized power to win improvements in schools, communities, and public policies.  

COFI helps parents realize that many day-to-day family struggles are rooted in public policies that have public remedies. COFI parent leaders create change within themselves and apply what they have learned to their communities and the larger systems that affect families.

COFI’s work is taking root around the country, attracting national attention to parent-led innovative policy solutions. 

Learn more about parent campaigns and victories

Three women work together during a community gathering

The COFI Way is strategically implemented in three ways.

  • COFI’s History

    COFI was founded in Chicago in 1995 by a group of visionary leaders–including former community organizer Barack Obama!

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  • Equity Statement

    Equity is at the core of who we are at COFI. Since 1995, our vision of equity in living, earning, and learning outcomes for all children and families has driven our work.

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