The 8th Annual CoThinkk Awards 

Date: December 1, 2023

CoThinkk supporters and honorees came together on November 18th at Hi-Wire Brewery to celebrate the amazing work and accomplishments of BIPOC, Latine , and AAPI community leaders working across Western North Carolina. 

CoThinkk is a social change philanthropy that supports BIPOC- led organizations, groups, and leaders collectively focused on systems change, racial equity, network building, and powerful discourse. The giving circle gave grants to 52 BIPOC leaders totaling $248,000 in the form of grants, self-care stipends, and culturally anchored coaching support through their partnership with the Coach Diversity Institute. This is the eighth annual presentation of community grants and leadership awards. After an impactful night for the giving circle, CoThinkk’s total investment is close to $900,000. These funds are given to organizations and initiatives that accelerate systemic change, drive systems change, and shift the narrative of communities of color in Asheville and WNC. 

Kicking off the festivities with the culturally rooted drumming of Global Diaspora, the atmosphere buzzed with friendly embraces and warm greetings, complemented by a delightful spread from Cooking with Comedy. Cenzontle Language Justice Cooperation played a crucial role in ensuring that every voice was heard by serving as interpreters throughout the night. 

This year’s event presentation began with calling everyone into the space with an intentional land acknowledgement that honored the Cherokee people-past and present-and then anchoring deeply into this year’s theme, “Co-conspiratorship and Solidary – This is Us!” This invitation created an opportunity for participants to unapologetically declare and normalize collective practices, muscle building, and relationships as necessary to embody a posture of co-conspirators and solidarity to meet this moment and transform it for the future. 

CoThinkk’s Leadership Awards were presented by Carolina McCready & Karis Roberts. Community Leadership Awards went to Thomas Priester, Je’Wana Grier- McEachin, Cholë Moore, Bettie Council, and Shaunda Jackson. Julia Darity, Imani Bellamy, and Trinity Barnwell-Thomas took home Next Generation Leadership Awards. Stephen Blount and Kathy Avery were awarded Community Ally Awards. 


Sarah Nunez shared the value of coaching and the impact it has had on her work. The intermission experience was provided by Shennelle Feather Museum of the Cherokee People, who led the crowd through a beautiful friendship dance. CoThinkk continues to acknowledge the life and legacy of founding member Kelly Goins, who previously transitioned and lost her battle with cancer. Nicole Lee reminded us of the value of self-care as demonstrated by Kelly’s legacy and congratulated grantees as they received an additional $500 self-care stipend.

“This is us. Collaborating as a community, intentionally building powerful relationships and networks – that share, build, and wield power together. This is us, forging spaces to nurture ideas and initiatives that cultivate a leaderful movement and leaders that deliberately work to disrupt and reimagine systems change for our community. This is us, explicitly partnering with one another in a powerful way that anchors Co-conspiratorship and Solidarity toward embracing a posture that centers this work in every aspect of our collective journey.” stated Tracey Greene-Washington, CoThinkk founder and author of the recent leadership book Choosing Purposeful Alignment: The Messy Middle of Transformation, as she kicked off the event. 


CoThinkk grant awards were presented by Kit Molina-Nauert and Tracy Hopkins. The 2023 CoThinkk Grantees are: 

  • Read to Succeed
  • YTL Training Programs
  • Stella Stellar Network
  • Solid Ground 59
  • Southside United Neighborhood Association
  • Museum of the Cherokee People
  • Different Wrld
  • Cenzontle Language Justice Collective
  • The Incubators and Advocacy Navigators Non-Profit Corporation
  • Dare to Rise
  • Oye Collective
  • West Asheville Advocacy Community Project
  • Rosa Walker Advancement Initiative
  • Food Reparations Coordination
  • Southside Community Farm
  • GrandBlessings
  • Asheville Community Care Collective
  • Major Moments Studio
  • One Dozen Who Care
  • Youthful HAND
  • Sister Soul Sessions
  • Early Screening Saves Lives
  • The Doula of Entrepreneurship
  • Acupuncture Free Clinic of Asheville LLC
  • Grahamtown Team
  • Men of McDowell
  • Uplift Access Garden Project
  • Hola Carolina
  • Pigeon Community Multicultural Development Center
  • OG Synergy Lifestyle and Culture
  • Zen Minds Initiative
  • African American Heritage Museum of Rutherford County
  • Unidxs Western North Carolina
  • Winnie’s Child Productions
  • Discovering Stillness for LatinX
  • Hands Enriching Lives Positively
  • Yoruba Foundation
  • DTK Fitness
  • Beginner’s Mind PLLC
  • Skills Academy for Women
  • Leaders & Entrepreneurs for the Advancement & Promotion of Girls
  • The Viewfinder
  • Peculiar Persona
  • Black in Appalachia Education and Support
  • Centro comunitario Hispano Americano
  • Building Bridges of Asheville
  • Aflorar Herb Collective
  • Angel K Love Project
  • A Place To Go

In typical CoThinkk fashion, the community wrapped up the evening with an invitation from Tera Coffey, Director of Impact and Network-Weaving and CoThinkk membership, along with camaraderie and dancing. CoThinkk will celebrate its 10-year Anniversary next year, where it will have the opportunity to celebrate the ripple of its collective work in partnership with the community. To learn more about CoThinkk, visit

Photo credit: Jess McLean