Thomas Sage Pedersen interviews Ashanti Branch, the Oakland-based founder of the Ever Forward Club. Growing out of Branch’s passion for his second career of teaching, the Ever Forward Club provides a support group for African American and Latino males who were not achieving to the level of their potential, and has since helped 100% of its members graduate high school. Pianist and singer August Lee Stevens opens the night with her mix of classical, pop, indie, and soul tunes.
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Ashanti Branch (@BranchSpeaks)
Ashanti Branch, raised by a single mother on welfare in Oakland, went on to study engineering at California Polytechnic San Luis Obispo. A Civil Engineer in his first career, Ashanti found his passion for teaching while tutoring struggling 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. The Ever Forward Club has helped 100% of its members graduate high school. Branch is on a mission to change the way that students interact with their education and the way schools interact with students.
After being featured in The Mask You Live In documentary, and Fellowships at the Stanford d.school, Campaign for Black Male Achievement, and The Gratitude Network, Ashanti has launched the #MillionMaskMovement to connect people all over the world in a self-reflective experience that helps people visualize and realize, “I am not alone.”
August Lee Stevens
August Stevens is a musician and songwriter from Hercules, California. Blending her influences of classical, pop, indie, and soul, August uses heartfelt lyrics and soulful vocals to express the moments in life too big for words alone.
She got her early start with classical piano which led her to train at the prestigious Oakland School for the Arts where she deepened her musical knowledge and branched out into singing and songwriting.
She’s been blessed to have been able to perform with Kev Choice, Tammi Brown, and Dave Grohl. She’s currently wrapping up a mini tour around the Bay Area and recording her first projects, set to release this summer.
Speak for Change
Speak for Change was founded with the mission of creating positive and lasting social change in our local and global communities. From a studio at the Tannery Arts Center in Santa Cruz, Thomas Sage Pedersen has hosted over 100 podcast episodes – and now, Speak for Change and Indexical bring you a series of live events! Each event features an interview and a musical guest, with new and custom sets tailored to the topic of conversation.
Thomas Sage Pedersen
Thomas Sage Pedersen’s mission and purpose has shifted throughout the years, but has always revolved around: to explore and implement innovative ways to inspire and create communities that are rooted in health, self-awareness, communication, creativity, accountability, courage and nonviolence. He continues to explore these principles in his personal life as well as in organizations he has created, helped create or are a part of.
Thomas is the CEO and Founder of the award winning music school Everyone’s Music School. He is the founder and main host of the podcast Speak For Change Podcast. He also has his own radio show on KSQD 90.7 fm in Santa Cruz County called the Speak For Change Radio hour. He is a co-Founder and the main facilitator of the Black Kings of Santa Cruz County which is a black men’s group here in Santa Cruz County rooted in brotherhood and connection.
He is a member of the Santa Cruz Equity Collaborative who are popularly known for holding responsibility for the BLM mural here in Santa Cruz. When not working in the community Thomas likes to write, paint and create music. He lives in the Redwoods of Santa Cruz County with his amazing artist wife Lauren Ringelman.
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