Mission: THE EVER FORWARD CLUB (EFC) is a mentor-led, youth development and mentoring program for middle school and high school young men of color. EFC aims to address the underlying causes of dropouts, the growing achievement gap of inner city youth and youth violence in a preventive manner by providing students with a safe place to share their feelings and build character. They work with teens that have limited experience being a part of the school community; those that have become disengaged, disillusioned or disenfranchised; and those who have simply lost the energy to continue along in their studies. Leveraging a four-fold approach, The Ever Forward Club has seen 100% of club members graduate from high school and 93% of their graduates have continued on to become “first generation” college students.
Approach: Full Circle Fund supported EFC by creating a landscape analysis of 50 similar organizations, specifically assessing opportunities for partnership and collaboration with a smaller subset of the larger list, and created a formal structure for tracking future development opportunities. The team also led workshops for EFC leadership on the following topics: best practices for networking, structuring for growth, fundraising, and managing funds.
Impact: The research conducted by Full Circle Fund Members led EFC to explore crowdfunding as a new funding stream for expanding their programs. EFC learned about the components of a successful crowdfunding campaign and ultimately raised over $30,000 through an Indiegogo campaign, in addition to their Full Circle Fund grant. During this campaign, EFC built an active social media presence and acquired more than 350 new supporters. Awareness around EFC’s unique approach increased when the founder, Ashanti Branch, and Lorenzo Cooper (EFC Graduate and Mentor at REACH Ashland Youth Center) spoke at Full Circle Fund’s 2014 Benefit. Over 350 people heard personal stories about the hardship experienced by EFC students and the positive role Ashanti and the program have in the lives of young men. Through our partnership with EFC, Ashanti now has a clear set of tools and resources to leverage for achieving his vision to develop more young men into connected community members who have truly come alive.
“The Ever Forward Club has benefited so much from its partnership with Full Circle Fund. This partnership has clarified what my work is really about, helped me create a vision for scaling our model and enabled me to take advantage of valuable growth opportunities along the way.” - Ashanti Branch, Founder and Executive Director