Mr. Branch, born and raised by a single mother on welfare in Oakland, California, took the road less traveled to get out of the ghetto and attended one of California’s premier engineering colleges, California Polytechnic – San Luis Obispo. Ashanti studied Civil Engineering and worked as a construction project manager in his first career. After tutoring struggling students and realizing his true passion was teaching, Mr. Branch changed careers. He had suddenly found the “fire” that was missing in his life and he hoped to ignite a similar enthusiasm in his young students.

In 2004 as a first year teacher, Ashanti started The Ever Forward Club to provide a support group for African American and Latino males, who were not achieving to the level of their potential. Since then, The Ever Forward Club has grown to serve both young men and women and become a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Ever Forward Club has helped 100% of its members graduate high school and 93% of them have gone on to attend college.

With over 19 years mentoring youth and 10 of those years as a math teacher educating inner city youth, Ashanti was awarded with a Fulbright Exchange Fellowship to India, a Rotary Club Cultural Ambassadorial Fellowship to Mexico and a 2010 Teacher of the Year Award from the Alameda-Contra Costa County Math Educators.

Key Points

During our session with Mr. Branch we explore some big questions, like:

  • Where are the gaps in traditional education, and how is it affecting students?
  • How can adults support youth to become more accountable for their actions?
  • Why is it sometimes more effective to toss out a curriculum and go with the flow?
  • How can we make consent education and healthy boundaries a fun learning experience for boys?
  • How do we leverage our stories for personal and collective healing?
  • And WAY MORE!

Ashanti and his team are true pioneers in the world of youth development. We found about him after watching The Mask You Live In (watch it!) and have been taking notes on how to build a true youth-centered organization since our first conversation a few years back. Give us a listen and let us know what you think!

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Episode 10: Ashanti Branch