Founder & CEO
Charli is a St. Louis native who returned home in 2009 to serve as a middle school English educator through Teach For America after completing her undergraduate studies at Prairie View A&M University. In 2011, Charli co-founded an educational access venture called inspireSTL. During Charli’s tenure, each senior class of inspireSTL Scholars celebrated 100% high school graduation and four-year college acceptance rates. inspireSTL has inducted seven classes of scholars, and it is on track to serve approximately 400 scholars annually. Charli went on to serve as an Executive-in-Residence at the United Way with a focus on education innovation. Prior to WEPOWER, she served as the Interim Executive Director/Lead Catalyst of Forward Through Ferguson.
Read the Post-Dispatch’s coverage of Elevate/Elevar. “The goal is for each firm in the cohort to receive $30,000 within the first couple of months of the program.”
Apply to the region’s only accelerator for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs of early-stage companies!
Charli Cooksey talks about the development of her 30-year plan and the role that futurism plays in her approach to building WEPOWER.
Black and Latinx entrepreneurs receive less than 2% of startup funding. <2%!! And we want to talk about it!
WEPOWER is thrilled to announce the incoming Tomorrow Builders fellows. Over the next two years, the 14 fellows will reimagine and redesign the region’s early childhood education (ECE) system to be more equitable and innovative.
Today, after several months of community organizing training, community engagement, policy research, and data analysis, a number of concerned parents, students, educators, and community members have come together in hopes of elevating the district to new levels.
We’re proud to be a finalist for the 2019 Camelback Ventures! We’re honored to be in company with wonderful thought leaders and creators.
This April 2018, 16 Black women from across North St. Louis City, of all ages and backgrounds convened to embark upon a journey of self-exploration and community change. None of them exactly knew what they were getting themselves into…
Early in the Academy, we embarked on a tour facilitated by social justice legends Eugene Redmond and Reginald Petty of historic places in East St. Louis. More recently, Power-Builders reviewed East St. Louis education data during an Academy session.
We will have the opportunity to vote for many important positions like state and U.S. Senators. In St. Louis city, where our Power-Builders are running GOTV canvasses and phone banks, the ballot includes candidates for the district’s elected school board.
Alums of the Academy, Monti and Elise, have continued the work of the campaign as field organizers. They have led our wonderful volunteers to phone-bank and canvass to get out the vote (GOTV) in North St. Louis City wards 3, 4 and 22 where there is a history of low voter turnout.
To stay grounded in hope, I have to feel my power even in low moments, and then put it to work with others in strategic, intentional, accountable, and revolutionary ways. I’ve developed some strategies for doing that, which I share in hope that you’ll join me.
Bijal Desai-Ramirez, WEPOWER’s VP of entrepreneurship and investments views social entrepreneurship as a tool to realize equity across the region and country, “To realize this dream of equity we’re going to need to be disruptive—we’re going to need to imagine and invest in scalable ventures that build economic power in our communities and solve big systemic social challenges.”
During these last months our team has been busy dreaming, challenging, and fortifying our values, our strategies, and our definition of impact. Our first pilot program hit its half-point mark, and we are cultivating a sense of energy and purpose with our regional partners and our inaugural cohort of power-builders.
In this op-ed, Charli Cooksey explains how to have uncomfortable conversations about issues—political or otherwise.
On Saturday afternoon leaders in education reform joined us to share their varied experiences and perspectives of St. Louis’ public education systems.
With great excitement, I’m writing to you having transitioned from interim Executive Director of Forward Through Ferguson into serving as full-time CEO & founder of WEPOWER.
Before I transitioned to full time at WEPOWER, I had the great pleasure of designing and launching a three-year #STL2039 Action Plan. Take a look! Engage. This important work is not possible without your action, belief, and radical collaboration!
Our Spring 2018 Education Power Building Academy launched this weekend! Here are a few snapshots from the kick-off.