MISSION AND VISION
To provide equitable opportunities to the members of the Frenchtown community via economic development, social change, and cultivation.
To improve the quality of life of the members in the Frenchtown community.
The Frenchtown Neighborhood Improvement Association (FNIA) is a cultivator of employment opportunities and becoming a resource to the members of the Frenchtown community for healthier living options. Although the Frenchtown community is one of the poorest communities in Tallahassee, FNIA is an advocate for its members: fighting to establish entrepreneurship, celebrating its rich history, and minimizing the growing number of food deserts. FNIA has committed to its members to be an agent of change for the benefit of the Frenchtown community. Throughout the years, FNIA forged many key strategic partnerships to accomplish its goals set for the community - in particular, with the City of Tallahassee and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). These key strategic partnerships allowed FNIA to be a pioneer and t strengthened our ability to provide to our community. We are proud to serve the Frenchtown community!
The Frenchtown Community.
The Frenchtown community has a very rich and unique history in the city of Tallahassee. It dates back to July 4, 1825, when the Lafayette Land Grant gave Gilbert du Moiter, the Marquis de Lafayette, a township in the United States of his choice. Moiter settled in Tallahassee along with hundreds of French laborers that he brought with him. Some of the laborers returned to France, while some moved to New Orleans, LA and others remained in what then called the Northwest Quadrant of Leon County. This settlement became known as “Frenchtown”.
After the emancipation of slavery and the end of the Civil War, many newly freed slaves moved from plantations to nearby towns and cities, like Frenchtown. Between the 1920s and 1950s, Frenchtown experienced a boom of commerce, community, and culture. The community became a hub of activity with growing businesses, schools, and churches. Places like The Red Bird Cafe and Cafe Deluxe hosted many famous musicians such as Ray Charles, Nat Adderley, Cannonball Adderley, BB King, and Lawyer Smith and his band. In addition to Ray Charles being a residual performer for the Frenchtown community, Charles lived in the area.
Following the 1960s, the Greater Frenchtown became a community of color experiencing a high incidence of diet-related diseases impacted by low access and availability of fresh food. Also, jobs with living wages, creative freedom, and skill development are scarce. As a means to address these issues, the Frenchtown Neighborhood Improvement Association (FNIA) was created. In 1992, FNIA was organized by Reverend Alphonso Whitaker and Charles Jefferson to address the critical needs of the community. The development of this organization wrought bylaws that were formed to establish officers, propose the needed change, and benchmark goals for the Frenchtown community. The key committees began to address educational, property, drainage, and beautification issues.
Under the leadership of Dorothy Bouie, FNIA received its 501(c)3, tax-exempted, designation in 1998. A year later, the Greater Frenchtown received its Florida Front Porch community designation through a competitive process proving the work of FNIA. Today, FNIA continues to provide leadership spearheading the development of projects and programs addressing the needs of the Greater Frenchtown community.
Meltonia Chandler, Director of Operations
James “Jim” Bellamy, Executive Director
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Cheryl Collier Brown, Chairperson
Thomas Smith, Vice Chairman
Dr. Shawn Youngblood, Secretary