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Ashanti Branch

Ashanti Branch speaking to DLS students

Mr. Ashanti Branch was born and raised by a single mother on welfare in Oakland, California. He 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 found the “fire” that was missing in his life and 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 support for African American and Latino males who were not achieving 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. It has helped 100% of its members graduate high school and 93% of them have gone on to attend college.

After 19 years mentoring youth (10 of which were spent as a math teacher educating inner-city youth), Ashanti was awarded 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. Mr. Branch is on a mission to change the way that students interact with their education and the way schools interact with students.

Research from Harvard, Google, and other institutions suggests that the most critical factor for team effectiveness is “psychological safety” - an environment with a high degree of interpersonal trust and respect. One where team members can take risks without concern of embarrassment, rejection, or punishment. Through its bold and innovative approach, Taking Off The Mask challenges leaders and team members to reconsider how they show up and transforms the way they interact with and relate to each other. Ever Forward recognizes that each person has a set of shared human needs - for support, expression, recognition, meaning, and connection. By closing the gap between who we are on the inside and who we are on the outside, we create more meaningful connections, healthier communication, and deeper engagement. This ultimately leads to more powerful results.