Ashanti Branch: "Taking off the Mask" in the Ever Forward Club
Ashanti Branch, M.Ed., Project Fellow, Stanford's d.school; Studied in Civil Engineering, Cal Poly–San Luis Obispo; 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 Ashanti
Branch works to change how young men of color interact with their education and how their schools interact with them. As a young teacher in the East Bay, Branch recognized, "When my students aren’t learning, it’s not usually because they can’t; it’s because they have deep-seated behaviors that are holding them back." This led Branch in 2004 to create the Ever Forward Club to provide a safe place for these young men to “take off their masks and be supported for who they really are,” and 93 percent of Club members have gone on to college. Documentarian Jennifer Siebel Newsom and Stanford’s “design thinking” program have helped Branch’s organization reach thousands of Bay Area students.
Branch and a few of his students will use this concept of “taking off the mask” to show how to "look behind our masks that we wear on a daily basis and that often get in our way of living truly fulfilling lives."