Ever Forward Gala 2020

Oakland native Ashanti Branch started the Ever Forward Club in 2004 to serve young men of color in the Bay Area.

When Ashanti Branch started the Ever Forward Club in 2004, he had no expectation that it would become a nationally recognized nonprofit. Nor did he harbor goals of appearing in a critically acclaimed documentary, collaborating on a Grammy-nominated album, or being applauded on the TED stage. All he knew back then, as a first-year math teacher at San Lorenzo High School, was that he wanted to help young men of color live their best lives. The rest is what happened when a personal mission meets a public need. Says Branch: “I still sometimes am like, ‘Is this really happening?’”

Cause: The Ever Forward Club primarily mentors underserved young men of color through a combination of programs focused on family, academics, community and self. Events like the 24 Hour Relay, a huge race and community campout happening at Oakland Technical High School on May 23 and May 24, is meant to encourage healthy connection. But the Ever Forward Club’s crown jewel is its “Taking Off the Mask” workshops, a traveling program that encourages emotional intelligence and vulnerability at schools and workplaces across the Bay Area.

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