Better Business Bureau Report for
Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI)

Better Business Bureau Report issued April 2014
Better Business Bureau Report expires April 2016

Does not meet one or more standards
This charity does not meet one or more of the 20 standards for Charity Accountability. Find out more...

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Charity Contact Information

Name: Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI)
Address: 1436 W. Randolph, 4th Floor
  Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: 312-226-5141
Web Address:
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Better Business Bureau Comments

Year, State Incorporated: 1995, Illinois
Affiliates: None
Stated Purpose: COFI works to build the power and voice of low–income and working families at all levels of civic life. Through our intensive and systematic leadership development and organizing process, parents develop skills, confidence, and the organized power to win improvements in schools, communities, and public policies.

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Evaluation Conclusions


Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) does not meet the following 2 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Standard 1: Oversight of Operations and Staff - Organizations shall have a board of directors that provides adequate oversight of the charity's operations and its staff. Indication of adequate oversight includes, but is not limited to, regularly scheduled appraisals of the CEO's performance, evidence of disbursement controls such as board approval of the budget, fund raising practices, establishment of a conflict of interest policy, and establishment of accounting procedures sufficient to safeguard charity finances.

Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) does not meet this Standard because its board of directors does not:

  • Have a voting member of the board who is assigned the responsibility of serving as the treasurer. In general, the board’s treasurer helps provide independent oversight of the organization’s finances.

A representative from the organization submitted the following response:

  • “COFI’s Board of Trustees operates using the Policy Governance model of nonprofit Board governance.  As such, the Board (which is relatively small) works as a ‘committee of the whole’ to set fiduciary policies and executive limitations, approves the annual budget, reviews quarterly financial reports, and meets annually with an outside Auditor who performs an annual audit of the finances of the organization. The Board delegates the job of drafting an annual budget to the Executive Director who presents it for approval annually and provides monitoring reports quarterly.”  

Standard 4: Compensated Board Members - Not more than one or 10% (whichever is greater) directly or indirectly compensated person(s) serving as voting member(s) of the board. Compensated members shall not serve as the board's chair or treasurer.

Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) does not meet this Standard because:

  • TWO (2) member(s) out of the NINE (9) member board of directors (22%) is/are compensated either directly or indirectly.
Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI) meets the remaining 18 Standards for Charity Accountability.
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We have three program areas: 1. Community Organizing Projects: COFI works with local community leaders and community organizations to implement leadership training and organizing campaigns around issues of importance to low-income families. In 2013, COFI: • Spoke with more than 18,000 families about the importance of early learning and referred 2,500 un-enrolled children to early learning programs. • Operated three school-based peace centers that prevented suspensions and touched 200+ students total. • Spoke with over 3,000 families and helped connect food insecure families with free summer meals programs. 2. Citywide Parent Organizing: COFI brings parent and grandparent leaders together across race and communities to work on policy issues affecting children and families. In 2013, COFI: • Informed new federal guidelines on school discipline released by the US Departments of Education and Justice which aim to reduce racial disparities in school discipline by encouraging the use of positive discipline instead of suspensions and expulsions. • A COFI parent leader testified in Washington DC at a Congressional briefing on positive approaches to school discipline. 3. Share the Learning: COFI provides training and consultative support to community organizations, social service agencies and schools looking to replicate the COFI model of leadership development and community engagement. In 2013, COFI: • Trained more than 300 new parent leaders in their schools and communities. • Held 11.5 days of intensive national training for 44 organizers, and social service staff and advocates. • Published and disseminated hundreds of copies of “Parent Engagement that Builds Leadership and Power” a policy brief which encourages early education programs to incorporate parent leadership development and organizing into their work.

For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2013, Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI)'s program expenses were:

Total Program Expenses: $
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Chief Executive : Ellen Schumer, Executive Director

Chair of the Board: Nelida Torres
Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: POWER-PAC Parent Leader

Co-Chair of the Board : Veronica Anderson

Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation: Communications Consultant

Board Size: 9

Paid Staff Size: 12

*Compensation includes annual salary and, if applicable, benefit plans, expense accounts, and other allowances.
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Fund Raising


Method(s) Used:

invitations to fund raising events, grant proposals, internet, membership
Fund raising costs were 13% of related contributions. (Related contributions, which totaled $370,774, are donations received as a result of fund raising activities.)
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Tax Status


This organization is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes.
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The following information is based on Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI)'s audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2013.

Source of Funds  
Contributions and Grants 354,709
Government Grants 332,398
Fee for Service 167,430
Individual and Corporate Donations 14,315
Miscellaneous Income 11,928
Inkind Donation 1,750
Interest 968
Total Income $883,498


Uses of Funds as a % of Total Expenses

Programs: 85%  Fund Raising: 6%  Administrative: 9% 

Total income $883,498
Program expenses $727,012
Fund raising expenses 49,599
Administrative expenses 77,714
Total expenses $854,325
Income in Excess of Expenses 29,173
Beginning net assets 579,586
Ending net assets 608,759
Total liabilities 12,710
Total assets $621,469

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An organization may change its practices at any time without notice. A copy of this report has been shared with the organization prior to publication. It is not intended to recommend or deprecate, and is furnished solely to assist you in exercising your own judgment. If the report is about a charity and states the charity meets or does not meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability, it reflects the results of an evaluation of information and materials provided voluntarily by the charity. The name Better Business Bureau is a registered service mark of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.

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