Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Raised by a single mother alongside four other children. A dedicated mother, who pursued quality education and care for each of her five children, no matter the costs. Ashanti continued on to pursue an education in early childhood education from Western Michigan University. He began his teaching career with children from 0-5 years old. Ashanti’s learning journey wasn’t over – he continued with a Masters degree in social work and gained experience within the foster care system, and then went on to open several charter schools.
Today, Ashanti Bryant serves as the Director of Early Childhood Services, overseeing IFF’s early childhood education work in communities across the Midwest. Ashanti is an experienced leader with years of school administration service in early childhood education, public, charter and independent private schools. A fierce advocate for equitable access to high quality early care and education, Ashanti believes in a data-informed and comprehensive approach that elevates the voices of providers in communities, prepares children to be Kindergarten-ready, positions them to break cycles of poverty and low achievement, and anchors the ability for families to participate in their community’s economy and workforce.
The father of young children, with a wife who works within early childhood, Ashanti lives and breathes the importance and value of early childhood. He truly sees the value in bringing these accessible spaces to life throughout the midwest, United States. These are the spaces that are helping to make children successful.
“Geography and demography should not be a determiner of destiny. A child’s zip code or neighborhood should not dictate their life outcomes. That is the life that we’re involved in.” – Ashanti Bryant
There are things that we need to do to ensure that children can participate and benefit in the system we’re building. That’s our collective dream; it’s also the dream at IFF.
Ashanti and IFF’s belief is that a focus on mission-driven leadership will act as a filter for all the opportunities that come our way, ensuring IFF stays aligned with their goal. IFF is a solutions partner for those non-profit organizations, many of which are early childhood businesses, to ensure they are agents of change.
How can we advocate for these voices to be at the table? Ashanti believes that we need to intentionally extend the invitation and facilitate opportunities to hear their voices. Where caregivers, early childhood leaders, can share their experience. What are their needs, their challenges, their successes? Why are they doing this work? These conversations strengthen relationships, and inevitably, strengthen communities. This community consultation leads to all the boats rising, together.
This foundation of conversation to reimagine our learning systems – the pandemic has provided a catalyst for change. The future of early childhood is full of opportunity. It’s a system of spaces that have height and light. A system that is truly student-centered, expeditionary, and experiential in nature, moving away from the silos of disciplines toward applied learning and integrated calendars. Educators may become facilitators to guide children in their learning, compensated well and are highly capable of coaching families and parents to support their children.
Ashanti and I share the common belief that each day, it comes down to the children that we’re serving all over the world. This is our ‘why’ – every child should have access to a quality education.
CEO, Natural Pod
Watch the full interview with Ashanti Bryant and Bridgitte Alomes: