Mr. Ashanti 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. Mr. Branch is on a mission to change the way that students interact with their education and the way schools interact with students.
Recent research from Google, Harvard, and other institutions suggest that the most critical factor for team effectiveness is “psychological safety” - an environment with a high degree of interpersonal trust and respect 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 at work – and transform 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 show up as at work, we create more meaningful connections, healthier communication, deeper engagement - and ultimately more powerful results.