A report issued by researchers from University of Texas Southwest in 2019 showed the life expectancy of residents in the 76104 zip code, the south side of Fort Worth, had the lowest life expectancy in the state of Texas. Residents in this zip code are expected to live an average of 12 years less than any other area of the state. The report caught the attention of many, but one person, in particular, knew something needed to be done and knew someone who would work to get something done.
Leah King, CEO of United Way of Tarrant County met Shawn Lassiter through education training programs where Lassiter trained leaders on advocacy, racial equity and racism in schools and communities. King and Lassiter discussed doing something big in Fort Worth around community led programs. Lassiter wrote a proposed program called BraveR Together, but it had no specific area of application. The premise of the program was to engage with people in a community needing assistance and have them be part of the team to lead the programs which would directly impact them. King shared with Lassiter 76104 would be the perfect place to enact her plan. In terms of equity, the program needed to be implemented where the need was the greatest and 76104 was the perfect fit. It also happened to be an area where both Lassiter (originally from Pensacola, FL) and Dr. Whitnee Boyd (originally from Pine Bluff, AR) had already adopted as their home away from home.
Racial inequality plagues communities of color in neighborhoods across the country. In 76104, systemic racism has played out over the years through disparities in education, housing, employment and healthcare as shown by the research done and the report issued by UT Southwest. The BRAVE/R™ Together project was formed to help address the disparities in this zip code. The collaborative efforts of nonprofits, public officials, community leaders and the private sector are being led by the executive team of BRAVE/R™ Together, Shawn Lassiter, CEO and Dr. Whitnee Boyd, Director of Strategic Initiatives. Their mission is to address racial inequity in areas where disparity has been shown to be greatest. Lassiter says, “This community was once thriving and supporting Fort Worth as a whole and then found itself stripped of its resources because of the highway, policies and other things, but despite all that, the spirit of the people never left.” She believes BRAVE/R Together has been able to capture that spirit.
To read the full story, click on the cover of the April 2023 edition of the magazine