photo of Charli Cooksey

Charli Cooksey

Founder & CEO

During college, Charli catalyzed of thousands students to march and protest to demand voting rights for Black and young folks. She also ran for the elected school board in Waller County, Texas to ensure that Black and Brown families had a voice in public education policy decisions.

After completing her studies at Prairie View A&M University, she returned to St. Louis as a Teach For America corps member. During her second year in the classroom, Charli co-founded inspireSTL, which ensured city students from under resourced backgrounds had access to transformative college-prep high schools and opportunities that would put them on a path towards college completion. inspireSTL grew from a small group of volunteers into a high performing team that has supported hundreds of scholars with: accessing top performing high schools, college acceptance, securing scholarships, and matriculating through some of our nation’s top universities like Stanford and Washington University.

Her commitment to justice deepened after the death of unarmed Michael Brown Jr. in 2014. Charli spent many nights protesting on the streets of Ferguson. She partnered with other local young leaders to launch an initiative to mobilize and elevate youth voice during regional discussions about how to respond to the Ferguson Uprising.

In 2015, Charli was elected to the St. Louis City Board of Education.

Before launching WEPOWER, Charli served as the interim Executive Director of Forward Through Ferguson birthed out of the Ferguson Uprising to address racial inequity and drive regional policy change.

In 2018, Charli founded WEPOWER whose mission is to activate community power to redesign systems to be just and equitable for all. WEPOWER's accelerator, Elevate/Elevar (EE) is a 6-month program that
provides for-profit companies led by Black and Latinx founders access to capital, coaching, and connections to scale and spark job creation in low-wealth communities.

Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.

Events featuring Charli Cooksey
Events featuring Charli Cooksey