Creator and Executive Director, The Ever Forward Club
Ashanti Branch works to change how students, especially young men of color, interact with their education and how their schools interact with them. Raised in Oakland by a single mother on welfare, Branch left the inner city to study civil engineering at Cal Poly — San Luis Obispo. He started out as a construction project manager, but his life changed after he tutored struggling students and realized his passion for teaching. In 2004, during Branch’s first year teaching high school math, he started The Ever Forward Club to provide support for African American and Latino males who were not achieving their potential. Since then, Ever Forward has helped all of its 150+ members graduate from high school — and 93 percent of them have attended two- or four-year colleges, military or trade school. The Ever Forward Club was featured in the documentary “The Mask You Live In,” which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. After completing a fellowship at the Stanford school in 2016, Branch stepped away from working for a school district and began working as the Founding Executive Director for Ever Forward – Siempre Adelante to grow the organization to better serve thousands of Bay Area students. In 2017, Branch was awarded a fellowship from the national organization CBMA (Campaign for Black Male Achievement). In 2019, he received a fellowship from the Gratitude Networks and was a top-three finalist for the LinkedIn Compassion award.