Mission: Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) works to build the leadership and power of low-income parents (mostly mothers and grandmothers) in and across neighborhoods of low-income people of color throughout Chicago, in order to make communities and public policies more supportive of children and families.
Programs: To achieve this goal, COFI has developed a unique model of leadership development and organizing, Family Focused Organizing, that has successfully brought residents of historically disenfranchised communities into public life, often for the first time. COFI implements Family Focused Organizing through three programs:(1) Citywide organizing: COFI provides leadership training and organizing assistance to Parents Organized to Win, Educate, and Renew Policy Action Council (POWER-PAC), a citywide organization of 250 low-income African American and Latina parents. POWER-PAC is working to improve discipline and reduce conflicts in Chicago Public Schools, and to restore recess in the schools to promote healthy child development.(2) Local organizing: COFI provides leadership training, staff training, and organizing assistance to groups such as Austin Wide Parent Leaders, Cabrini Mothers in Power, Family Focus in Englewood and Lawndale, and Nuestra Familia to develop local leaders, build parent teams, and facilitate neighborhood-level community organizing in Chicago's low-income Latino and African American communities. (3) Shared learning: Through its Institute for Family Focused Organizing, COFI provides staff training and consultation with organizations nationwide who are interested in integrating the Family Focused Organizing model into their work. COFI also develops and circulates publications about Family Focused Organizing.