Ashanti Branch


“I started a non-profit called Ever Forward during my first year as a teacher. I wasn’t planning on starting a non-profit. It’s a mentoring and youth development program for young men, grades 6-12. We help young men develop in their social and emotional work that they usually don’t get a chance to deal with. Most young men, especially in urban settings, have a hyper masculine narrative about what it means to be a man so we give them some tool to be human, to feel whatever they, and to know that it’s okay. And that it’s accepted, and respected…and kind of expected. Also providing them ways of navigating their own life without having to feel like being a man is dominating others, or taking from others, or abusing others. We repattern and erase some of the cultural baggage.”

“Who do you love most in the world, and what do you love about them?”

“My mom, I’m a momma’s boy. My dad died before I was born so it was just me and her. We went through a lot of struggles. In high school, we battled a lot, but as I look back I realize she did the best she could. I’m trying to live to make her proud. She raised her oldest son the best she could and it was valuable and meaningful.”


“What do you feel like your greatest strengths are?”

“Empathy, caring, listening, actively listening. Being committed to others success and well-being. Sometimes that can be at a detriment to myself. I don’t feel it as a detriment to myself, but sometimes I recognize that I’ve forgotten myself.”

“How do you come back to center when you get to that point?”

“I just slow down…and forgive myself. I say, ‘We’ve gotta take care of these bills, gotta slow down’. It’s having empathy for myself. It’s a lesson my mom instilled in me…that I can live my life for me.”AshantiBranch-3

“That was going to be my next question…what do you like to do for yourself?”

“I haven’t really…that’s my goal this year. I’m finishing a fast right now. I was finishing up today, but I’m gonna keep going. I’ve just been getting connecting with myself and God around why I don’t have anything for me. I don’t. Someone asked me my hobbies. I go to the gym. I read. Those are two hobbies, but I really don’t do much for myself. I don’t feel bad about it because it’s my dream, my passion, my purpose…but if I”

“-take the time to nourish yourself and be grounded you’ll have more to give.”

“Exactly. I’m working on my self-care. And learning how to ask for help. Understanding that asking for help doesn’t make you weak. Since I was raised by a single mother, I learned how to do everything myself. We were on welfare for a time…and who are you going to ask for help? You don’t ask for help because there’s nobody to ask. But being vulnerable is how you create a network and grow something.”

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February 14, 2017