Larry Irvin Jr., founder and CEO of nonprofit Brothers Empowered to Teach, joins a class of 20 “remarkable individuals who work on world changing ideas.” He has been selected as a 2021 TED Fellow.
“We’re not supposed to be here,” said Irvin. “We were just the cute minority non-profit start-up that saw a problem and came up with a solution. I was just the Black boy with a story. Now it’s real. We are here.”
Each year, a new group of TED Fellows from around the world, and from every discipline, are welcomed into this international community of thinkers and doers who have shown unusual accomplishment, exceptional courage, and the potential to create positive change in their respective fields. This year’s TED Fellows cohort represents 14 countries across five continents. TED organizers select each Fellow based on their remarkable achievements, the potential impact of their work and their commitment to community building.
Likewise, TED selected Irvin for his advocacy efforts in identifying, nurturing, and training the next generation of Black male educators.
“Brothers Empowered to Teach isn’t a mere non-profit, it’s a movement,” said Irvin. He founded BE2T in 2014 with fellow educator Kristyna Jones. It has grown from seven fellows to 60, and a full staff with two cohort locations in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
“We don’t just build teachers, ” said Irvin. “We intentionally develop dispositions and character that can thrive inside of classrooms, within an inclement and ever-changing education climate. It’s extremely hard work.”
Its mission is to provide opportunities and examples for underserved, marginalized student populations through the inspiration and incentivization of men of color who choose education careers. It does this by identifying, nurturing, and training via innovative methodologies. The goal is to improve the representation and perception of Black male role models in education.
Simply stated, Irvin works to generate a pipeline of incredible teachers who mirror success for their students and to recruit men of color into classroom-based careers.
Raised by an early childhood educator, his mother taught for 23 years in the Jefferson Parish Head Start program. He said he was most inspired by her perpetual benevolence, which extended from the classroom deep into the community. Now, he continues to adopt those same values through his work.
As a Fellow, Irvin will receive tools to “amplify the power of his vision” which includes ‘The Cipher’, BE2T’s in-house personal and professional development space.
BE2T has innovative programming, mentorships, and paid fellowships. It has established itself as a leading organization for training men of color to become teachers. As a result, it is increasing the number of Black male teachers in US public schools. BE2T recently received an award from the Orleans Parish School Board to develop an innovative program.
“We are looking to reshape the current teacher recruitment and training landscape, while simultaneously changing school culture by aggressively deconstructing the deficit perspective that has plagued scores of Black boys and men as students and concurrently, teachers,” he said.
Educational attainment was always a point of emphasis for Irvin growing up. The New Orleans native earned an associate’s degree in journalism and media arts from Delgado Community College. Then, he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies with a concentration in rhetorical theory and public address from Louisiana State University. He is a 2016 Camelback fellow a member of the WKKF Kellogg Leadership Network, a member Andover Breadloaf Teacher Network, and currently a Pahara NextGen Fellow.