Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI)

Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) COFI has trained and supports more than 5,000 parent leaders across Illinois, mostly African American and Latina mothers and grandmothers. Together, they are taking action to make their communities better for all families.

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.

Operating as usual

This is so sad, but parents never lose hope. The COFI parent team, Padres Activos de la Escuela Nixon, fought for nearly...
11/05/2021
Hermosa Parents Spent Years Fighting For A New School Playground. Last Night, Someone Set It On Fire

This is so sad, but parents never lose hope. The COFI parent team, Padres Activos de la Escuela Nixon, fought for nearly three long years and won Chicago Public School and others’ support for this playground. They raised the $$ and they literally built the playground – engaging 200 community volunteers! Parent persistence will not let this dream die. Now CPS and Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa have committed to rebuild the playground by spring. You go, parents of Nixon! https://blockclubchicago.org/2021/11/03/nixon-elementary-playground-arson-destroyed-hermosa-school-built-after-parent-advocacy/

The Nixon Elementary School community is reeling after the arson attack, which destroyed a play area that students loved and was just a few years old. "The kids are crying. It's too much for us," the local school council president said.

It's always so fun when POWER-PAC IL leaders make an appearance at the COFI office. A few West Siders came by yesterday ...
11/02/2021

It's always so fun when POWER-PAC IL leaders make an appearance at the COFI office. A few West Siders came by yesterday for their November hybrid branch meeting!

This is HUGE! Congrats to POWER-PAC IL leaders and coalition partners who fought hard to make this happen! 💯🎉🎇
10/28/2021

This is HUGE! Congrats to POWER-PAC IL leaders and coalition partners who fought hard to make this happen! 💯🎉🎇

Lettie is an inspiration to us all – she is a true champion for children and families in East St. Louis and beyond. Cong...
10/27/2021

Lettie is an inspiration to us all – she is a true champion for children and families in East St. Louis and beyond. Congratulations! 🌟

*SPOTLIGHT* 2021 Brenda Crisp Award Nominee:
Lettie Hicks, GELP Family Liaison

"Lettie’s compassion for families and passion to make sure all families have access to Early Learning programs is what makes her a great nominee for the Brenda Crisp Early Childhood Champion Award. She shares her knowledge of Early Learning as an Early Learning Ambassador and Family Liaison on and off the clock."

- Esther Beard, Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI)

10/26/2021

Happening at noon central TODAY (Tuesday). POWER-PAC IL parents agree that a guaranteed income (direct cash transfer support) is needed to make it through COVID-19 and build the future!

TOMORROW (Saturday 10/22) at 1 pm central: Join us to wrap up an incredible Week of Action! Author Mark Warren will talk...
10/22/2021

TOMORROW (Saturday 10/22) at 1 pm central: Join us to wrap up an incredible Week of Action! Author Mark Warren will talk about their new book Talking Sankofa and the concept of “Willful Defiance,” which is a long-used subjective behavior category in schools that disproportionately punishes Black and Latino students for dress code violations, talking back, and having a "bad attitude." Parent leader Lynn Morton, who has fought against punitive discipline, will also talk at the event. Register at http://tinyurl.com/talkingsankofa

Shout out to Elementary Justice Campaign and Aurora Parent Leaders in Action of POWER-PAC IL for two amazing, successful...
10/21/2021

Shout out to Elementary Justice Campaign and Aurora Parent Leaders in Action of POWER-PAC IL for two amazing, successful events yesterday as part of Dignity in Schools Campaign Week of Action: Community Not Cops! First up, a virtual Parent to Parent Training on the CPS Student Code of Conduct (in English) hosted at COFI with Elementary Justice leaders Charlene, Lynn, and Dexter. And in the evening, a community conversation hosted by Aurora leaders about bullying, mental health, and restorative justice. Both events were well attended and received. Congratulations to parent leaders! #DSCWoA2021 #CommunityNotCops

Kudos to Elementary Justice Campaign leader Valerie Carroll for speaking so poignantly at the launch event for National ...
10/18/2021

Kudos to Elementary Justice Campaign leader Valerie Carroll for speaking so poignantly at the launch event for National Week of Action: Community Not Cops! She talked about the power of POWER-PAC IL parents to reach, connect, and mobilize with other parents about the importance of removing police from schools: "We start with leadership so that parents can come to the table... ready to build community vision and fight for the change!" Check it out starting around the 1:01 hour mark: https://fb.watch/8JlIa5mmp_/

Kudos to Elementary Justice Campaign leader Valerie Carroll for speaking so poignantly at the launch event for National Week of Action: Community Not Cops! She talked about the power of POWER-PAC IL parents to reach, connect, and mobilize with other parents about the importance of removing police from schools: "We start with leadership so that parents can come to the table... ready to build community vision and fight for the change!" Check it out starting around the 1:01 hour mark: https://fb.watch/8JlIa5mmp_/

National Week of Action Against School Pushout: Community Not Cops begins today. Please join POWER-PAC IL and partners n...
10/16/2021

National Week of Action Against School Pushout: Community Not Cops begins today. Please join POWER-PAC IL and partners nationwide in the fight to remove police from schools! You can still join in the launch event at 1 pm central today: https://tinyurl.com/frontlineoncommunity

National Week of Action Against School Pushout: Community Not Cops begins today. Please join POWER-PAC IL and partners nationwide in the fight to remove police from schools! You can still join in the launch event at 1 pm central today: https://tinyurl.com/frontlineoncommunity

COFI and POWER-PAC IL are proud to engage in the upcoming National Week of Action Against School Pushout: Community Not ...
10/12/2021

COFI and POWER-PAC IL are proud to engage in the upcoming National Week of Action Against School Pushout: Community Not Cops! This Saturday, Oct. 16th, we invite you to join us at the national launch event, "Frontline on Community Not Cops,” featuring a panel with students, parents and partners nationwide who are advocating for mental health, behavioral and social and emotional supports in place of police in schools. POWER-PAC IL parent leaders will speak as well. Come out and show your support (please note the times are EST) https://tinyurl.com/frontlineoncommunity

Thank you so much to Jennifer E. Cossyleon, Ph.D., COFI researcher/colleague/friend, for writing about The COFI Way of F...
10/07/2021

Thank you so much to Jennifer E. Cossyleon, Ph.D., COFI researcher/colleague/friend, for writing about The COFI Way of Family Focused Organizing in her article, "The Potential for Social Movements to Heal: Restorative Kinship among Mothers of Color." Check out the blog post that accompanies the article: https://frontiers.utah.edu/jennifer-e-cossyleon/.

What a blast celebrating the passage of SB 654, the Right to Play bill, giving Illinois students in grades K-5 30 protec...
10/01/2021

What a blast celebrating the passage of SB 654, the Right to Play bill, giving Illinois students in grades K-5 30 protected minutes of recess each day, in a beautiful backyard in Evanston last night! Thank you and congratulations to POWER-PAC IL leaders who have been fighting for recess since 2006, parent group Illinois Families for Public Schools, and state legislators Senator Robert Peters and State Representative Aarón M. Ortíz! It was fun chatting with Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss as well! 🥳️🏫🎈

This Saturday, October 2, 10am – 12:30pm, join us for the Statewide Family and Community Engagement Gathering! This even...
09/27/2021

This Saturday, October 2, 10am – 12:30pm, join us for the Statewide Family and Community Engagement Gathering! This event is open to families across Illinois. There will be 4 sessions to choose from and each participant will be able to join 2 sessions as part of the event.

- Local and State Parent Advisory Councils Family
- Family, District and State Collaborations for Building Social Emotional Supports
- Best Practices for School Districts and Programs on Family Engagement
- Open Discussion Room for Parents/Caregivers
Register here! https://forms.gle/MVBsjix8ypA6w47Z8

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Este Sábado 2 de Octubre, 10am – 12:30pm, acompáñenos para el Encuentro Estatal para la Participación Comunitaria! Este evento está abierto para familias en todo Illinois. Habrá 4 sesiones disponibles y cada participante tendrá la oportunidad de participar en 2 sesiones durante el evento.

- Comités Asesores de Padres a Nivel Local y Estatal
- Colaboraciones entre Familias, Distritos y Estado para Asegurar Recursos de Salud Mental
- Mejores Prácticas para que Distritos y Programas Involucren a las Familias
- Foro Abierto Para Familias
Registrese aquí! https://forms.gle/MVBsjix8ypA6w47Z8

Shout out to POWER-PAC IL Early Learning Campaign Co-Chair Susana Salgado for a job well done at last week's virtual Chi...
09/24/2021

Shout out to POWER-PAC IL Early Learning Campaign Co-Chair Susana Salgado for a job well done at last week's virtual Childcare 4 All Town Hall meeting! She gave a powerful testimony to a crowd of over 100 participants, with several Chicago alderpersons in the audience, calling for the city of Chicago to invest $376 million to create “child care for all zones” in the city's most challenged communities. Susana is pictured here with Early Learning Co-Chair Yolanda Williams, speaking at a care advocacy event this summer. Thank you for your leadership, Susana!

Shout out to POWER-PAC IL Early Learning Campaign Co-Chair Susana Salgado for a job well done at last week's virtual Childcare 4 All Town Hall meeting! She gave a powerful testimony to a crowd of over 100 participants, with several Chicago alderpersons in the audience, calling for the city of Chicago to invest $376 million to create “child care for all zones” in the city's most challenged communities. Susana is pictured here with Early Learning Co-Chair Yolanda Williams, speaking at a care advocacy event this summer. Thank you for your leadership, Susana!

Parent leaders from COFI/POWER-PAC IL joined with providers from SEIU-HCIL and other partners to plan the launch of a ne...
09/22/2021

Parent leaders from COFI/POWER-PAC IL joined with providers from SEIU-HCIL and other partners to plan the launch of a new bold campaign around Universal Child Care in Illinois! ✨

Parent leaders from COFI/POWER-PAC IL joined with providers from SEIU-HCIL and other partners to plan the launch of a new bold campaign around Universal Child Care in Illinois! ✨

Wow - good work POWER-PAC IL leaders and our partners at Economic Security IL!
09/20/2021

Wow - good work POWER-PAC IL leaders and our partners at Economic Security IL!

Express your support to lawmakers for child care and early education in our communities! Thank you United Parent Leaders...
09/20/2021

Express your support to lawmakers for child care and early education in our communities! Thank you United Parent Leaders Action Network for making it easy to take action today!

Parents, your voice can make a difference! Take a minute to help shape our children’s future by telling your Congress members to support child care & early education. #SolveChildcare #UseYourVoice #ParentLed

➡️ Click here: https://p2a.co/d3K7Vck & generate an email to your members of Congress

The Southside Parents United Roundtable, or SPUR branch of POWER-PAC IL, met for the first time in the 2021-2022 school ...
09/17/2021

The Southside Parents United Roundtable, or SPUR branch of POWER-PAC IL, met for the first time in the 2021-2022 school year at Ogden Park in Englewood this week! Shout out to SPUR leaders and the other local branches gearing up for a busy fall and school year ahead! 💙💜💙

We're excited to announce the next round of COFI Center for Action and Learning workshops! This fall, learn about The CO...
09/09/2021

We're excited to announce the next round of COFI Center for Action and Learning workshops! This fall, learn about The COFI Way of Family Focused Organizing Model and incorporating the model into your own communities. Workshops are open to individuals and organizations. Learn more information on our website! https://cofionline.org/COFI/learn-how/workshops/

We're excited to announce the next round of COFI Center for Action and Learning workshops! This fall, learn about The COFI Way of Family Focused Organizing Model and incorporating the model into your own communities. Workshops are open to individuals and organizations. Learn more information on our website! https://cofionline.org/COFI/learn-how/workshops/

We're loving these photos from last week's ribbon cutting ceremony at William Penn Elementary School  in North Lawndale,...
09/08/2021

We're loving these photos from last week's ribbon cutting ceremony at William Penn Elementary School in North Lawndale, Chicago, featuring Early Learning Campaign Co-Chair Yolanda Williams, Alderman Michael Scott, Jr. , and Dr. Sherryl Moore-Ollie, Principal. Two years ago, Yolanda and other Westside leaders were fighting hard for a better playground at the school – Yolanda was even interviewed in a local news segment (https://chicago.cbslocal.com/2019/12/05/playground-problems-plague-school-there-are-bullet-holes-in-the-slide/?amp). Congratulations to the parents for this heartwarming victory – a nice way to start the school year! 🏫🥳️

Got some questions about Illinois' new recess law? Check out these handy graphics from our friends at Illinois Families ...
09/07/2021

Got some questions about Illinois' new recess law? Check out these handy graphics from our friends at Illinois Families for Public Schools and share widely! And a huge shout out to POWER-PAC IL parents for working hard over the years to help make this a reality!

"It’s all about relationships. If you want to have a different outlook on the police department, a different outlook on ...
09/07/2021

"It’s all about relationships. If you want to have a different outlook on the police department, a different outlook on students, CPS, CPD have to learn how to build relationships in communities,” Elementary Justice Campaign Co-Chair Dexter Leggin told WTTW - Chicago PBS Black Voices over the weekend. Thank you, Dexter, for continuing to use your powerful voice for supporting the removal of police officers from schools! https://news.wttw.com/2021/09/05/do-police-officers-cps-high-schools-make-students-safer

"It’s all about relationships. If you want to have a different outlook on the police department, a different outlook on students, CPS, CPD have to learn how to build relationships in communities,” Elementary Justice Campaign Co-Chair Dexter Leggin told WTTW - Chicago PBS Black Voices over the weekend. Thank you, Dexter, for continuing to use your powerful voice for supporting the removal of police officers from schools! https://news.wttw.com/2021/09/05/do-police-officers-cps-high-schools-make-students-safer

COFI parent leaders have fought for the past decade to streamline the maze for families seeking preschool and child care...
09/03/2021
Finding day care was already a 'confusing and frustrating maze.' Coronavirus made it worse.

COFI parent leaders have fought for the past decade to streamline the maze for families seeking preschool and child care enrollments - with some success but COVID just makes it exponentially worse.

COFI Deputy Director, Policy and Organizing, Tracy Occomy talks about the struggle in this USA Today story today! Support the Care Economy - #CareCantWait

Parents say the process of finding and signing up for child care, or the financial aid they need to afford it, has become more overwhelming than ever.

Here's another article about yesterday's victory regarding Whole School Safety, quoting Elementary Justice Campaign Co-C...
08/31/2021
CPS Agrees To Take 1 Officer Out Of Each Of 24 Schools That Voted For Removal

Here's another article about yesterday's victory regarding Whole School Safety, quoting Elementary Justice Campaign Co-Chair Dexter Leggin: "That’s a good start. Additional funds and programs must continue to be directed to schools, especially in Black and Brown communities which have long lacked resources." Congrats to POWER-PAC IL parents! https://blockclubchicago.org/2021/08/30/cps-police-comply-24-schools-request-remove-1-cop/

The decision to respect schools' wishes comes after the district's safety chief initially said two cops would temporarily remain at the high schools that voted to keep only one officer.

We Won!  Parent and youth voices are heard and respected.  Happy first day of school, CPS families and schools.
08/30/2021
CPD agrees to pull cops from schools that voted to remove them

We Won! Parent and youth voices are heard and respected. Happy first day of school, CPS families and schools.

Police had initially resisted moves to remove one cop from each of two dozen schools that had chosen to have only one in their buildings.

The weather is beautiful today, the first day of school in Chicago. Wishing everyone well as families navigate schools r...
08/30/2021
Chicago schools are fully reopening for the first time in more than 500 days. Here’s what to know.

The weather is beautiful today, the first day of school in Chicago. Wishing everyone well as families navigate schools reopening around the state. https://chicago.chalkbeat.org/2021/8/27/22644901/chicago-public-schools-reopening-full-time-covid-19-testing-masks-what-to-know

We break down the new protocols, the outstanding questions, and what’s known so far about the potential pandemic impact on students.

We call on Chicago Police Department to respect the extensive Whole School Safety community engagement process that took...
08/25/2021
Chicago Police To Continue Sending 2 Officers To Schools That Voted To Have Just 1

We call on Chicago Police Department to respect the extensive Whole School Safety community engagement process that took place over the past year. Thank you to Elementary Justice Campaign Co-Chair Dexter Leggin for speaking to WBEZ about these recent developments. https://www.wbez.org/stories/chicago-police-to-continue-sending-two-officers-to-schools-that-voted-to-have-just-one/ef3a89c3-434b-490d-b226-e7357d2b6915

Chicago Public Schools says the Police Department decided to temporarily send the two officers to the schools, citing safety issues. It’s unclear when they’ll leave.

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