“I create a world of freedom by teaching people to break their chains.”

To know Ashanti Branch is to better know yourself. An engineer-turned-educator, he is now Executive Director of Ever Forward Club (a non-profit he founded to provide support for young Black and Brown males who were not achieving to the level of their potential) and bringing his message, through his speaking, to groups of people committed to building culture together.

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.

In his first career, Ashanti studied Civil Engineering and worked as a construction project manager. After tutoring struggling students and realizing his true passion was teaching, Ashanti changed careers, finding the “fire” that was missing in his life and hoping 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 supersede gender and become a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Its official mission is to build character and transform lives by providing underserved middle/high school youth with safe, brave, and bold communities that provide them with opportunities for academic, personal, family and community development.

With over 19 years’ experiences mentoring youth and 10 of those years 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.

With Campowerment (and independent from us!), Ashanti brings his signature workshop, “Taking Off the Mask,” and offshoots inspired by it, to companies, groups and organizations — to moves to groups of individuals to emote, together, and commit to finding common ground.

His character-building work has featured by Talks at Google (“How to Come Alive by First Getting Real”), CNN’s This Is Life by Lisa Ling, The Kelly Clarkson Show, Men’s Health, SXSW, TEDx (Oakland; Marin), the 2015 Sundance Film Festival (documentary: “The Mask You Live In”) and his own podcast, “Taking Off the Mask.”