COFI invites you to hear from the true experts

COFI has worked for 27+ years with hundreds of mothers and grandmothers (and a few dads) in Chicago and across Illinois and the nation who are deeply engaged with improving life for families in communities of color.

These parent leaders are ready to share their compelling stories of what is really happening on the ground in their marginalized communities of immigrants or families who live far below the poverty line.

Their stories are more important now than ever, and they need to be heard.

COFI’s parent leaders are trained to understand policy and systems changes that raise the quality of life. They have brought restorative justice practices and Peace Centers to Chicago Public Schools. They have expanded access to early learning programs across the State of Illinois. They are shaping policies around financial security and asset building, and they successfully organized to bring back recess for all Illinois elementary students.

Here are some recent examples of COFI parent leaders in the news:
A woman speaks to a television reporter in front of her home
Race in Chicago: Wide Educational Divide Continues in the City (NBC, July 2021)

Maria Leticia (Letty) Toribio, POWER-PAC IL Elementary Justice Campaign co-chair, spoke with NBC 5 for their Race in Chicago series about continuing educational disparities in the city, speaking specifically about school discipline.

A woman leans against a brick wall with her arms crossed
How This Englewood Resident Became an Advocate for Utility Assistance (City Bureau, February 2022)

“Englewood resident Donna Carpenter, 56, took an unexpected journey into advocacy. As a mother, grandmother, caregiver and all-around busy person, Carpenter went from being a Chicagoan impacted by utility disconnection to one affecting how the city and state handle public energy assistance. This involvement began locally, through the Illinois organization Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI).”

Two women give materials to a young girl while doing community outreach
Despite promise of universal pre-K for CPS, enrollment lags in city’s neediest areas (WBEZ, August 2022)

“The moms are doing street outreach on behalf of the parent advocacy group COFI, or Community Organizing and Family Issues. Armed with pamphlets and clipboards, they plan to knock on every door in sight to spread the word about universal preschool at Chicago Public Schools.”

You can find many more parent stories in the media here.

COFI Media Policy

When COFI/POWER-PAC IL parent leaders work with the press, we request our media partners identify them as organizational representatives in their reporting. It’s important to recognize the parent’s community advocacy and leadership in the news story to provide context and to emphasize that not only are they telling their personal stories and speaking about their lived experiences, but they’re also taking concrete steps, doing the work, and fighting for legislation that will improve lives for all families in their communities.

While COFI staff may sometimes provide background information and context, staff do not initiate nor lead the efforts, and so we request that our media partners make an effort to mostly work with and quote COFI/POWER-PAC IL parent leaders in their stories.

Parent leaders often have busy schedules. We acknowledge and respect that our media partners often operate under tight deadlines, however, we request that you give us advance notice of a media request or deadline, whenever possible.

We prioritize media requests that align with COFI’s body of work: The COFI Way (a family focused parent leadership and organizing model), POWER-PAC IL’s four issue campaigns, parent ambassadors, and local organizing. We do not support narratives that portray families as “victims” or “sob stories.”

Interested in speaking to a COFI parent leader for your story?

Please email COFI with your request and include the following information:

  • Your name, job title, and outlet
  • The story you’re working on
  • Who you’re looking to connect with at COFI and why
  • How you’ll conduct the interview (phone, Zoom, in person, etc.) and your availability
  • Your deadline
  • If you are able to conduct your interview in Spanish, and if not, whether you are interested in working with a translator

COFI will respond to your request as soon as possible. If your media request is a good fit with COFI parent leaders’ work, COFI will connect you with the appropriate contacts. We will provide any background information necessary (parent leader titles, campaign work details, etc.) to facilitate your research.

Thank you for your interest in elevating COFI’s powerful parent voices. We look forward to working with you.