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Inspiring Conversations with Ashanti Jackson of Gameface 4:13 Training Academy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashanti Jackson.

Hi Ashanti, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Why GameFace 4:13, the name and mission – Ashanti Jackson, Founder of GF 4:13. It is an inspiring story that I love to tell. When I was younger I played basketball from the start of elementary school all the way up to high school, including college. I also played for a travel basketball team as a young girl. Travel basketball was highly competitive and had a way of developing a deep mental toughness that could only be gained through experience.

My mother and father were heavily involved in my basketball upbringing and would do everything they could to keep me motivated and fired up for the games. My mother would look me in the eyes before every game and tell me to put my game face on.

She would ask me, “Are you ready? Let me see your game face Ashanti.” I would willingly give her the best look I could that captured my internal excitement and credence in beating my opponents on the other team. “My mom would say, “You can do this baby girl, stay in the game and keep your game face on.”

It was moments like these I realized something special was taking place and growing inside of me. –An internal confidence Fast forward–I played college basketball and after college, I knew I wanted to use my gifts to serve and give back to the community through basketball and mentorship.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The journey to being a non-profit founder and maintaining my organization’s mission has not been easy. In general, entrepreneurship on all levels is a challenge and has many bumpy roads. There are many days I must get over the fear of taking risks and daily rejection. Not only do we as entrepreneurs endure hardships in the process of growing our start-ups, but we must overcome stagnation, break out of traditions, and develop forward thinking mindset shifts. As a result, I need to constantly surround myself around others that have the same drive, passion, and desire to become lifelong learners.

Being an entrepreneur has opened my eyes to the possibility that every person is built differently and brings to the table unique giftings that can change the world. Not everyone is the same-and that’s okay. There are plenty of people who are content with playing it safe and might not have the motivation to step out, explore, and rock the boat. However, one of my deepest beliefs concerning every person is having the capacity to develop an ownership mentality. Even if you’re working and serving at a company that is not owned by you, that’s equally important! Having an ownership mindset and entrepreneurial spirit can uplift any company and strengthen the operational structure of that specific job. I’m currently working in other lanes besides entrepreneurship and have learned so many valuable skills. Being a teacher for several years and doing outreach and managerial work at companies and churches has been a great experience. One of the greatest quotes that comes to mind on this topic is this bible verse. Luke 16:12 says, “And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?” This quote means before you can manage your own vision, you must be a good steward of another man’s vision (our boss).

Furthermore, there are people who have a calling to be a builder and pioneer, and those specific people can understand my journey better.

Being a non-profit founder, I realized that I’ve had to move past people saying no and focus on those who’ve said yes. I’ve had to “stay in the game” and develop grit and perseverance. The non-profit sector –especially being a new non-profit is also a challenge. We are an organization that was not built off the back of another person’s established non-profit. As a result, I’ve had to build my own tables and teams and invite others to sit at those tables. My organization Gameface is relatively new to the nonprofit sector, and I have to work hard to prove credibility as we continue to establish our work and put our– “boots on the ground”.

The struggle to continue pushing forward and produce quality work, despite recognition, helped me develop my character. Not only is my character continuing to be formed, but it is continually creating a drive and credibility to help others who will go behind me. I’ve had to work part-time jobs and full-time jobs while working for my non-profit organization. There have been many days I’ve had to make sacrifices and do things I don’t necessarily “love to do”, which opened doors for me to work my passion and continue in purpose. Every person journey is different, but I’ve learned to embrace the challenge and grow stronger.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
I run a registered 501 (c3) called Gameface 4:13 Training Academy.

Our organization’s mission is to serve youth in three areas: Physical training (sports camps and clinics), Mental Training (education and life skills), and Spiritual Training (character development, community service, and local/global mission trips).

Our organization has partnered with schools, churches, small businesses, and community leaders here in the Jacksonville area to do work such as:

· Leverage the popularity of basketball to produce strategic solutions for children and families.

· Create a character-leadership class, in which community leaders host mentorship sessions and workshops with youth participants.

· Generate a safe haven and encouraging environment for youth participants, teaming up with the city’s vision to stop youth violence and unproductivity by giving kids a positive outlet.

· Provide scholarships for youth participants and families, in order to be a part of our programs.

Our goal is to create a revolutionary life-changing holistic approach for the youth through GameFace 4:13 Training Academy. Through this, we combine physical, mental, and spiritual training to make that possible.

We currently host monthly basketball camps and mentorship workshops for youth. We are looking to expand into academic workshops and other impactful initiatives for the youth through continued partnership.

What makes you happy?
My family is my first ministry, and they give me joy. Additionally, fulfilling my God-Given purpose makes me elated with joy. Doing the work that God has called me to do in excellence is rewarding. Using my talents and gifts to serve and make God known through the quality work he has allowed me to do is my motivation. Traveling and exploring gives me a sense of adventure and brings a refresh to my soul. Lastly, laughing with others who are fun and have a great spirit about them is priceless.

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