“Embracing the Now: Designing the How”
CoThinkk supporters and honorees came together virtually on Nov. 12, 2021 to celebrate local African American and Latinx community leaders and the work being done in Black and Brown communities in western North Carolina.
The celebration began with Slay The Mic on the one’s and two’s. Warm greetings filled the chat as attendees expressed their excitement to be community with one another again.
The event began with Cenzontle Language Justice Cooperation orienting attendees on how to use Zoom.
“This is an intentional call to action to move leaders, institutions, communities, and partners into a posture of operationalizing this work in every inch of their walk. This is a call for everyone to use their spheres of influence by using capital, cover, and sharing, building, wielding, and transferring power to facilitate transformational change,” stated Tracey Greene-Washington, CoThinkk founder and author of the recent leadership book Choosing Purposeful Alignment: The Messy Middle of Transformation, as she began to host the event.
The keynote event was a panel discussion about finding and sustaining joy as they continue to interrupt and reimagine systems while centering equity, creativity, and voices of Black and Brown communities in WNC. Tracy Hopkins moderated the panel that comprised Alexandria Ravenel, Kimberly Hunter, and Trinity Barnwell-Thomas.
CoThinkk, a philanthropic organization, continues to advance social change. This year’s event marked the group’s sixth annual presentation of community grants and leadership awards. CoThinkk’s theme of “Embracing the Now: Designing the How” builds upon previous years’ themes and provides a message of hope and call for sustainability, as this transformational work must continue.
CoThinkk’s Leadership awards went to Dr. Tiece Ruffin, Dr. Darrius Stanley, Octavia Hamilton, and Torre White. Phyllis Utley and Jackie Latek received community ally leadership awards. Next-generation leadership awards went to Gabe Allen and Aubrey Goode.
“These awards continue to highlight the leadership of invisible leaders in our communities that are doing amazing work and heavy lifting that often goes unrecognized,” Greene-Washington explained.
CoThinkk also gave awards to the following projects:
- K-3 Literacy Tutoring, submitted by Jaimee Stanley
- STM Multimedia, submitted by Elizabeth Garland
- S.T.I.L.L. Smiling Photography, submitted by Tony Shivers
- Cross Cultural Peer Support Training, submitted by Michael Hayes
- Southside Community Garden Youth Entrepreneurship Program, submitted by Sekou Coleman
- From the Ashes Cultural and Counseling, submitted by Heather Ashley
- JFOANC Black Asheville Documentary, submitted by Julia McDowel
- Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción (CIMA), submitted by Ami Worthen
- Chill Cereal Outreach, submitted by Patricia Waters
- Aflorar Herb Collective, submitted by Sarah Nuñez
- Errand Boys 828: Car Buying and Financing Education, submitted by Kurtis Crooks
- Glitter Sisters Speaker Series, submitted by Niki Cush
- Major Moments Studio, submitted by Jeffery Deleon
- Deaverview/Pisgah View Community Organizing, submitted by Thomas Prister
- A Woman with a Vision, Empowerment & Mentoring Program, submitted by Parris Finley
- Warrior Mom Ink, submitted by Nicole Lee
- Analog Retreat, submitted by Trey Tillman
- KJG Enterprises, submitted by Joe Greene
- Building Black Asheville, submitted by Andrea Clarke
- Healed Skin and Candle Co., submitted by Traci Taylor-Freeze
- Date My City, submitted by Kharri & Alaijah Jones
- Autism in Color, submitted by IIiana Hernandez
- Tierra Fértil Coop, submitted by Delia Jovel
- The AVL Drumline Initiative, submitted by MC Ellis
- YTL Training programs After School, submitted by Janell Lassiter
- HELP Today, submitted by Kathey Avery
- Family Voices, submitted by Sekou Coleman
- Recording Las Américas, submitted by Patricia Serrano
- Black and Brown Cosmetology School and Salon Services (Asheville-based), submitted by Leondra Hoke
After a big night for the giving circle, CoThinkk’s total investment has reached nearly $400,000. Funds are given to organizations and initiatives that shift the narrative and create economic and social well-being for communities of color in Asheville and WNC. This year’s giving represented a commitment of more than $183,300 in the form of grants, coaching, and capacity-building to community leaders.
In addition to the grant awards, for the fourth year in a row CoThinkk acknowledged the life and legacy of founding member Kelly Goins, who lost her battle with cancer. In her honor, Goins’s husband, brothers, and son each congratulated grantees as they received an additional $500 self-care stipend. Additionally, all applicants, whether or not they were awarded a grant, will receive six hours of coaching support from a certified diversity coach.
In closing remarks, new CoThinkk co-network building directors, Tremaine Tillman and Iliana Hernandez, invited the attendees to commit and engage in support of the continued work of CoThinkk.
Watch the awards presentation at theurbannews.com/communities/2021/cothinkk-virtual-awards-2021/.
To learn more about CoThinkk, please visit cothinkk.org.