Things are heating up at COFI! This summer, parent leaders have a lot of victories to be proud of, including a meeting with Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration and the announcement of the new Illinois First Steps program, which POWER-PAC IL leaders have fought for almost a decade!
POWER-PACers in Chicago had a successful and fruitful first meeting with Mayor Brandon Johnson’s team at City Hall in August! Parent leaders presented concrete asks of the administration, such as a seat at the table to discuss next steps for the Guaranteed Income Pilot, opening mental health clinics in the Southside and Westside, and expanding Whole School Safety efforts in Chicago Public Schools. The mayor’s team has shown their commitment to working closely together with parents to make Chicago more equitable for all families!
Chicago parent leaders joined Senator Dick Durbin and City Colleges of Chicago officials to celebrate the success of the Broadband Access program in July. The program grew from POWER-PAC IL mother-leaders’ recommendations to provide basic computer classes to those interested in returning to school.
On the statewide front, POWER-PAC IL leaders were out in force at a recent public meeting to protest the outlandish proposed $402 million Peoples Gas rate hike. Several POWER-PACers gave heartfelt testimonies, including Donna Carpenter, Regina and Cornelia Simms, and Delia Perez. Read the Chicago Sun-Times coverage here, which includes the great photo of the parent leaders shown above.
COFI was honored to take part in Illinois State Treasurer Frerich’s announcement of the new Illinois First Steps program, which provides all new parents a $50 seed deposit to start a college savings account. POWER-PAC IL leaders have fought for this program for almost a decade, and it’s now a reality! A special thanks goes to Liliana Olayo, POWER-PAC IL Co-President from Aurora, who gave testimony at the event praising this new law that will help her future grandchildren, and ALL newborn children in the state, get the education they deserve. Thank you also to City of Chicago First Deputy Chief of Staff (and former State Senator) Cristina Pacione-Zayas and House Majority Leader Robyn Gabel for championing the legislation, and community partners for their amazing work!
Veteran POWER-PAC IL leaders gathered for a multi-day Phase 3: Policy & Systems Change training in beautiful St. Charles. The training was piloted successfully last year, and we’re thrilled to bring it to even more people!
Moving on to national updates — COFI Center for Action and Learning has also had a busy summer! One highlight was the fantastic presentation given by Rosazlia Grillier (POWER-PAC IL President Emeritus), Graciela Suarez (COFI Senior Trainer), and Colleen Klus (Washtenaw Success by 6 Great Start Collaborative) at the National Community Schools and Family Engagement Conference in June. She also joined partners from the United Parent Leader Action Network (UPLAN) at the conference’s closing panel. We love to see parent power brought to light on a national stage!
And in case you missed it, we also recently announced the 2023-2024 schedule of national workshops, including a new and exciting opportunity to join a cohort of organizations also building a parent-led movement across the country!
We’re so excited to see everything that POWER-PAC IL parent leaders will accomplish in the coming months. Onward and upward!