CoThinkk is a giving circle that invests its time, talent and treasure to accelerate positive changes in communities of color in Asheville and Western North Carolina.
Amid a shifting social, economic and political landscape, communities of color in Asheville are examining creative and innovative strategies to facilitate community change. Community-driven and focused on place, these individual efforts are creating some much-needed synergy and sparking important conversations that lead back to a single question for leaders: “How can we collectively create supportive networks, accelerate change and seed new initiatives to address the most vexing social issues facing communities of color in Asheville and the region?”
This question is being raised in the face of staggering economic, housing, health and poverty statistics about African-American and Latinx communities in a part of the state where communities of color account for a relatively smaller portion of the total population. These conversations are encouraging communities to collectively think about how they can pool their resources and talents to create a platform for individuals to drive social change, consequently creating the space for CoThinkk.
CoThinkk was born at a launch event in September 2014 attended by about 50 people. The event was CoThinkk’s initial goal to cultivate diverse opinions to accelerate change, support creative innovation, and build valuable konnections and knowledge. “CoThinkk” was coined to describe a process built upon the premise that adopting co-thinking allows individuals, organizations, institutions and sectors to:
Create long-term sustainable change by inviting diverse perspectives and experiences into a process in order to address some of our biggest challenges and create space for innovation and opportunity;
Create multiple entry points and portals for individuals, organizations and sectors to be engaged;
Promote intentional dialogue and discussion.
Acknowledge that we all have gifts and assets to contribute, which allows for a process that is solution-focused and encourages members to show up as their best selves;;
Cultivate collective thinking from diverse partners in order to deepen analysis, build investment, strengthen collaboration and deliver the best results;
Since the launch event, CoThinkk held monthly meetings and annual retreats, as well as capacity building workshops to help take the mystique out of the grant process, create access to grant dollars, build confidence, and build community. A part of this process included advocating for the giving circle model and its potential to break down barriers, and building trust and strengthening relationships between African American and Latinx leaders. Through a shared, collaborative, and collective agenda CoThinkk went through a process to prioritize its focus areas, landing on economic opportunity/mobility, education, and leadership development. Along with grants to leaders of color working in Asheville and Western North Carolina, CoThinkk has mapped out a vision to accompany grant money with volunteer time and access to the resources and skill sets of the membership.
Looking forward, CoThinkk is building on its community-driven model that leverages the collective time, talent, and treasure of engaged individuals toward a collective impact agenda. Through this model, CoThinkk is working to create new systems, processes, and relationships that have the potential to yield equitable outcomes and to support a leadership pipeline of African American and Latinx members in the community poised to impact future generations in the region.
Tracey Greene-Washington, Founder