About Us

Forward Promise is a national program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to support culturally-responsive practices that buffer the effects of historical and systemic trauma on boys and young men of color. RWJF has funded the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education to manage the Forward Promise National Program Office (NPO). The NPO has two strategic locations, one in Philadelphia, PA and one in Huntsville, Alabama. 

The NPO will facilitate grants to organizations throughout the United States, provide technical assistance and field-building support, and disseminate timely research to those seeking to positively impact the lives of boys and young men of color.


Forward Promise’s mission is to undergird, strengthen, and stimulate the creation of supportive networks and relationships that surround BYMOC and their families – healthy village-making.


We envision healthy villages and a larger society that raise and empower boys and young men of color to heal, grow and thrive.


We believe:

  • The transformative genius, resilience and energy of boys and young men of color are ancestral, and have the power to change the systemic, interpersonal, and cultural narratives and conditions that continuously deny and assault their humanity
  • Trauma must be addressed and healed before boys and young men of color can reach their fullest potential
  • A healthy, trauma-informed village will raise healthy boys and young men of color.
  • Boys and young men of color are critically important members of their communities and contributors to society.

Our Approach

Our approach to building healthy networks for BYMOC will involve preparing individuals, families, organizations and institutions to face the power of the humanity of BYMOC, apply culturally-responsive programming to identify historically-driven trauma experiences, and record and share diverse examples of health transformation. Standing on the shoulders of previous Forward Promise grantees, the new NPO will carry on the work of healthy village-making.

Research reveals that historical and contemporary oppression, discrimination, and poverty have led to negative physical, mental and emotional health outcomes across life-spans and generations (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2014). Dehumanization is a core dynamic that plagues many health promotion and recovery problems in our society. Through histories of colonization and racism, BYMOC have faced significant hardships that have led to the creation and perpetuation of historical, spiritual, cultural, social, emotional, and physical traumas. These effects impact the systems, such as educational, justice, health and employment systems, with which BYMOC interact on a daily basis.

Recognizing the humanity of BYMOC would seem at first to be a given – not needing explanation, justification, or promotion. Unfortunately, appreciating the humanity of BYMOC is a struggle for many people who interact with them from preschool through young adulthood, as well as many BYMOC themselves. Improving the quality of how systems and their personnel relate to BYMOC can reduce trauma reactions and improve their health in areas of learning, resilience, self-care, help-seeking, social mobility and even sleep (Winn, Iruka, Buansi, McKinney, & Stevenson, 2012; Stevenson, 2014).

The Forward Promise NPO will target culturally-responsive healing promotion solutions that lead to healing, growth, and thriving in the lives of BYMOC as defined by their communities. Defining a healthy village may differ across the diverse communities of BYMOC.

Click the icons above to learn more about our approach

Healing is recognizing trauma and recovery.

Healing is seeing the need for health recovery. Healing from various traumatic experiences requires a lens that views BYMOC as human and deserving of health despite their current life circumstances. It is important because unaddressed trauma effects increase negative health outcomes. To recognize trauma (sources, effects, resolutions), is the beginning of healing.

Growing is practicing health recovery daily.

Growing is engaging life struggles with a healthy lens. Growing describes how BYMOC come to embrace healthy, culturally-responsive narratives, lenses, rationales, and behaviors for engaging and overcoming the challenges of trauma recovery. If healing is seeing the effects and resolutions of trauma, growing is using that awareness in one’s daily life to make healthy choices in self-care, relationships, schooling, and career.

Thriving is enjoying one’s health choices.

Thriving involves sustaining the practice of health recovery through activism. Thriving describes the capacity of BYMOC to actively make choices that lead to long-term, healthy outcomes for the sake of self, family and community. BYMOC will thrive when the skills and mindsets of culturally-relevant healing models have been adopted for self-protection and the protection of others in the community.

Our Team

Rhonda Tsoi-A-Fatt Bryant, Ed.D


Dr. Rhonda Tsoi-A-Fatt Bryant is President/CEO at The Moriah Group, an international consulting firm, based in Huntsville, Alabama. Dr. Bryant has over 20 years of work...

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Michelle K. Massie

Deputy Director

Michelle K. Massie is Vice President of Program Operations at The Moriah Group where she also serves as the Deputy Director of Forward Promise...

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E. Bomani Johnson

Associate Director

Bomani serves as an Atlanta based consultant and manages the grantmaking and technical assistance programs of Forward Promise.

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Andrea Amaechi

Director, Technical Assistance

Andrea directs technical assistance activities for Forward Promise.

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Joshua Álvarez

Social Media Manager

Joshua manages Forward Promise's social media content and campaigns across all platforms and channels.

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Dr. Edith Arrington

Consultant, Research & Evaluation

Dr. Arrington supports Forward Promise with research and internal evaluation of all programs and activities.

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Edrita Dawkins

Program Associate

Edrita supports the day-to-day operations and logistics of Forward Promise.

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Kelli Dulan

Director, Leadership & Learning

Kelli directs the Forward Promise Fellowship for Leaders, leadership development and learning, and coordinates our field building activities and events.

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Ti Kendrick Hall

Director, Communications

Ti is the director of strategic communications, content development, and media management and engagement.

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Lauren Nixon

Project Manager

Lauren manages multiple projects of Forward Promise, including our Fellowship for Leaders and Technical Assistance activities

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Howard C. Stevenson, Ph.D.

Consultant, Research

Dr. Howard Stevenson is the Constance Clayton Professor of Urban Education, Professor of Africana Studies, and former Chair of the Applied Psychology and Human Development...

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Chardinae Wilson

Project Manager

Chardinae manages multiple projects of Forward Promise, including our grantmaking and field building events.

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Tanisha Abernathy Browne

Director of Marketing for the NYC Administration for Children's Services

Tanisha Abernathy Browne is a passionate professional with over 15 years of strategic communications experience in a range of categories, including financial services, healthcare, telecommunications and...

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Tshaka Barrows

Executive Director and Founding Member of the Burns Institute

Tshaka Barrows is a founding member of the W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI). As Executive Director he works closely with the executive director to advance the Burns Institute’s mission to protect and improve...

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Kisha Bird

Director of Youth Policy at CLASP and Project Director for the Campaign for Youth

Kisha Bird is the director of youth policy at CLASP and project director for the Campaign for Youth (CFY), a national coalition chaired by CLASP. Ms. Bird works to expand access to education, employment...

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Krishaun Branch

Student Recruitment Fellow at Urban Prep Academies

Krishaun Branch has made “All the Difference” during his journey as a millennial and continues to beat the odds. During his early years, growing up on Chicago’s Southside, in a...

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William Buster

Executive Vice President at St. David’s Foundation (NAC Chair)

William Buster, MA, is Executive Vice President of Community Investments at St. David’s Foundation in Austin, Texas. He provides oversight for St. David’s Foundation’s grantmaking programs...

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Dr. Angela Diaz

Director of the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center

Angela Diaz, MD, PhD, MPH is the Jean C. and James W. Crystal Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

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Quyen Dinh

Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

Quyen Dinh is the Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). Originally formed in 1979, SEARAC was founded by a group of American humanitarians...

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Andrew Mulinge

Teacher at Harlem Village Academy

Andrew Mulinge is an educator, sociologist and advocate for equity-based education for all students. His experiences and interests have primarily been focused on researching, developing, and implementing...

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Kalimah Priforce

Headmaster CEO at Qeyno

At eight years old, Kalimah Priforce held a successful hunger strike against his Brooklyn group home to add more books to its library, which drew the attention of a community...

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Dr. Patrick Tolan

Professor, School of Education and Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences in the School of Medicine at the University of Virginia

Patrick H. Tolan is Professor at the University of Virginia in the Curry School of Education and in the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences in the School of Medicine...

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Dr. Karina Walters

Director and Principal Investigator of the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute at the University of Washington

Karina L. Walters, an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is the Associate Dean for Research, the Katherine Hall Chambers Scholar, and the director and principal investigator...

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