Keep Friendship Alive was founded by Erica Austin in 2006 in honor of her best friend and big brother, Joseph Upshaw. Joey died from an accidental drug and alcohol overdose while they were both attending The Ohio State University in 2000. This tragic loss eventually led Erica to leave her successful advertising career in New York City to travel the country and speak to over 250,000 college and high school students about drug and alcohol awareness with her presentation Keep Friendship Alive. Erica became one of the nation's top speakers on substance abuse prevention; students related to her brother's story and her practical advice on how to "party smart and keep friends safe."
Erica's unique experience inspired her to assemble a research team and critically evaluate prevention programs among all age levels in order to create something better. The simple yet profound findings: adolescence is the critical age, the message must be positive, the approach should be unexpected, and yes, there is room for improvement. This research and Erica's personal love for yoga and mindfulness led her to develop a program that positively connects with young teens and provides them with the tools to live their best lives. Keep Friendship Alive is now focusing all of its efforts on UPLIFT Teen Yoga, bringing yoga and mindfulness to teens.