Bringing For The Struggle to life was always a part of Alesha Brown’s plan. Now the Founder and Executive Director of her own nonprofit, For The Struggle, Inc (FTS), Brown wanted to start an organization that focused on racial and social justice ever since she started college. She coined the name ‘For The Struggle’ a year or two after she graduated from law school in New York.
She knew she didn’t want to start FTS until she was settled into a place where she was a member of the community she wanted to serve, and when she began to call Charlotte home, that’s exactly what she did.
Brown began filing all of the necessary paperwork to start FTS and then hit the ground running by going into the neighborhoods she would be serving in the Beatties Ford Road Corridor, talking to residents and taking note of their needs to figure out how she could help.
FTS is a Second Year grantee in United Way of Central Carolinas’ Unite Charlotte initiative, founded in 2016. The initiative provides funding and capacity-building programs to local grassroots organizations advancing racial equity and addressing economic mobility.
FTS has three main focus areas that align with United Way’s mission to increase economic mobility and strengthen communities in the Charlotte region: the Community Response Team, the Eatmon Project and the newly created SaluteU Project. The Community Response Team is the original focus area because the main premise of FTS is to respond to needs that are identified by Black communities.
“Our Juneteenth program as well as our Elderly Response Initiative fall under the Community Response Team, too,” Brown said. “That one has been operating the longest and has had the most impact, particularly from the Elder Response Initiative, which works with seniors in historically predominantly Black neighborhoods.”
The Elder Response Initiative has a huge impact by providing free services to seniors, primarily in the Beatties Ford Road Corridor, who are at risk of displacement due to the rapid gentrification in the area. The services include critical home repairs, future planning and property tax relief. The initiative also includes a Senior Feeding Program, where they provide seniors with free, healthy groceries and warm, cooked meals from Black-owned restaurants in the Corridor.
Brown practices civil rights and civil litigation law at her law firm in Charlotte. Brown’s legal background is key to some of the services provided through the Elder Response Initiative, like when she helped 77-year-old Mr. R. Talford legally obtain the deed to the property that his driveway was on before a real estate company demolished it. She has helped a number of seniors with future planning documents such as wills or Powers of Attorney as well.
The second focus area, The Eatmon Project, has two parts. The first is educating and engaging Black voters and the second is a curriculum that teaches children voter education as well as information on the fourth amendment and how to handle situations with the police.
The third focus area is the SaluteU project, which has not been formally launched yet, but is on the horizon. This project will focus on assisting and providing resources to formerly incarcerated individuals in addition to those engaging in activities that could lead to incarceration.
Unite Charlotte was FTS’s second investor when it started, and the organization is now operating with a budget of $800,000 and continues to grow. With funding from Unite Charlotte, FTS was able to expand its Senior Feeding Program this past year and launch their critical home repairs program. It was also able to hire a Marketing Director to improve their marketing efforts and grow their social media presence.
Looking ahead, Brown is excited to have all three programs up and running with a full staff to support the organization.
“To see the impact that we’ve been able to have in almost three years is really incredible,” Brown said. “It’s a blessing to be a blessing.”