Meet the Team: LeKelah Dewberry

Nov 6, 2023

How long have you been with Co.act & what brought you to this work? 

I’ve been with Co.act a little over a year (as of August 2023) but I’ve been serving in the nonprofit industry for more than 20 years. For about half that time, I was doing youth-serving work and the rest has been focused on grants including financial and programmatic grant compliance.

The beat of my heart has always been in nonprofit work. I’m so passionate about assisting the community; that’s what drew me to Co.act in particular. I love what Co.act stands for, who we are: providing resources to the community in the realm of funding; striving to become bigger and better at what we do, and working to fund as many projects and programs as we can.
I love helping, I love working with people. The whole notion of being able to come together with partners to create the impact. I absolutely love the people here and what we do.


What have you been working on and/or thinking about lately?

I came on board just when the funding for Round 7 of KIP:D+ had been disbursed. So now I’ve made it through an entire cycle, from the creation of application materials, promotion, applicant review and finally the grantee funding. I’ve been learning all of the intricacies about how this program works. To walk the process from beginning to end has been really rewarding.

What I’ve noticed is how so many more groups are applying now; we’ve received around 200 applications in both Round 7 and Round 8 – which is great! So many of the applications are worthy of support, but we can only fund a small portion of those requests.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about what we can do to increase the pot of money so that we will be able to fund more programs, more activities. How can we potentially bring on more funding partners? How do we get more money in so we can send more money out.

LeKelah Dewberry

LeKelah Dewberry
Grants Program Coordinator

What are you most excited about sharing with our community?

I’d like to spread the word about how very authentic Co.act is about things. Because I’ve been in this space for so long, I have seen how difficult the grant process can be; how many hoops you have to jump, how many barriers, how many challenges there are to accessible funding.

We are working every day to be aware of who our audience is and how we can lower those barriers, to make it easier to apply, or even for people to feel like they CAN apply. We know it can seem insurmountable. With KIP:D+ as an example, I can tell you that we are thinking about and targeting those smaller organizations that might not have the resources to even complete the application. Some funders have standards that these organizations can’t meet; they are doing amazing things but they don’t necessarily have the history or longevity or documentation of doing what they do that is often a requirement just to apply.

So we’re intentional about trying to find ways to fund these organizations that have been overlooked. We’re thinking about things like how to make the application more understandable and accessible. We are bringing together groups of people with lived experiences to reimagine how things can be changed and be made better. I appreciate being part of a team that wants to be intentional about every aspect of what we do.


What are you reading/watching/consuming for work or for pleasure?

I have two children (13 and 11) so my focus is always first on them – which means I don’t have a lot of time to spend on my own leisure! So I don’t really “binge-watch.” But I’m trying to make time to watch one episode a week of “Ladies First: A Story of Women in Hip-Hop” on Netflix. It’s about the women pioneers of hip-hop, the struggles that they had entering into this new (at the time), male-dominated industry. It’s about their backgrounds and how they evolved and how they took something that was a natural gift that they had and stepped into it.

I’m really passionate about history – learning about what was and comparing to what is. I’m really big on these stories about women’s empowerment, not only for myself, but as a mom. I find motivation in seeing how these women took their natural gifts and turned it into something great. It’s refreshing. It’s encouraging. It’s motivating.


Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I appreciate being part of a team that lives their intentionality. Their care is apparent. Making sure that you can take the time that you need – such as mental health days, mid-year and end-of-year shutdowns, etc. Co.act is ensuring that the staff not only talk about wellness and self-care but exercise it. It matters to us and we actually do it.

LeKelah Dewberry
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