Teaching That Empowers Creative Minds

For Ashanti Branch, the principles of creative problem-solving are key to empowering young people of color.

Ashanti Branch is founder and executive director of the Ever Forward Club, an Oakland, CA-based group that supports young Latinx and African-American men to engage with high school and achieve their potential. Founded in 2004, the Ever Forward Club has helped 100% of its members graduate high school, and 93% have gone on to attend college. Branch studied life design through a Stanford fellowship in 2015-2016, and the experience helped to transform his approach to leadership.

Mindful: What led you to study design theory?

Ashanti Branch: Ever Forward Club started out as a small volunteer-run nonprofit. When we started, I was doing it after work and on weekends and holidays, while teaching math full time. I had this dream of it being bigger, and believed it was going to happen one day, but didn’t know how.

How did Design School change that picture?

Before D-school, it was like I was rowing a boat, always rowing and rowing. Now that rowboat is more like a motorboat, with a perpetual energy of its own. It was absolutely life-changing for…