Based in Asheville, COLA (Coalición de Organizaciones Latino-Americanas) formed out of a need for Latino-led organizations in rural Western North Carolina mountain counties to connect, learn from each other, and work together. The Center for Participatory Change, an organization that supports grassroots organizations in the region, realized that although they were working with several Latino organizations, it seemed these groups were not working with one another. In some cases, these groups did not even know that other regional Latino organizations existed.
In October 2002, these groups came together for the first Encuentro, or gathering. COLA was a regional network connecting and strengthening organizations that empower Latino communities in Western North Carolina. At one point about 25 organizations actively participate in the coalition.
The organization’s focus moved from working closely with organizations toward individuals that live in the Western Region. Thus in November 2015, the organization changed its name to CIMA- Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas en Acción to better reflect the community the organization works with.