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Updated: May 15, 2023

TED Fellow Larry Irvin, CEO of Brothers Empowered to Teach, says the donation supports the organization's work and enables him as a Black founder to work “from a place of wellness”

NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 6, 2022 – Brothers Empowered to Teach, a nonprofit organization that supports and develops Black male undergraduate students who are interested in teaching in K-12 classrooms, is a recipient of a major donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

“This game-changing donation by MacKenzie Scott means we can now do our important work from a place of wellness and health. The donation will transition us from a feel-good nonprofit to a high functioning organization.” CEO of BE2T Larry Irvin says. “We will have a financial latitude that allows us to focus on growing our impact without worrying about mounting debt, missing payrolls and a lack of resources, all of which can drastically affect capacity, morale and attempts to build a high performing culture.”

Brothers Empowered to Teach (BE2T) is an organization that recruits and trains men of color to become teachers. Through innovative programming, mentorship, and paid fellowships, BE2T is increasing the number of Black male teachers in U.S. public schools. The number of Black male teachers nationally is 2%, and Black men make up about 7% of the U.S. population. The number of Black male teachers in Louisiana has climbed to 12%, with Black men making up about 16% of the population of Louisiana.

“Brothers Empowered to Teach provides community and conversation for our young men who are going into the K-12 space, where they are not in highly represented demographics,” Irvin says. “A lot of times, students have never had a Black male teacher, especially in the K-5 level.”

Brothers Empowered to Teach has placed 170 teachers since beginning in 2014. By providing paid fellowships, introducing the fellows to teaching in classroom environments at partner schools, and facilitating conversations around masculinity, gender identity, resume building, and marketing yourself within education, Irvin and BE2T aim to set young Black men up for success. Once a BE2T fellow has been placed, that Black teacher is able to serve as a role model to other Black male students.

“Kids become what they see,” Irvin says. “If we want to ignite the fire in the upcoming generations, they have to see other Black men teaching.”

In a Medium post, donor MacKenzie Scott wrote that she gave over $1.9 billion to 343 organizations supporting the voices and opportunities of people from underserved communities. She writes, “I recently learned a saying used in disability communities: ‘Nothing about us without us.’ For me, it’s another beautiful and powerful reminder. I needn’t ask those I care about what to say to them, or what to do for them. I can share what I have with them to stand behind them as they speak and act for themselves.”

“MacKenzie Scott is pushing the envelope in philanthropy,” Irvin says. “The way she vets and funds Black founders in the nonprofit and social justice space is great. The money is unrestricted. It doesn’t come with reporting or micromanaging. We don’t have to jump through hoops. She vetted the founders and leaders, and she trusts us. Philanthropists should take notes on how to fund Black founders. Giving us the money up front is a game changer.”

Irvin says that he could have used role models like the young men he is helping shape when he was growing up.

“There’s a different impact and dynamic when you’re learning from someone who looks just like you, because they’ve dealt with some of the same experiences and internal things, biases, stereotypes as you,” Irvin says.

About Brothers Empowered to Teach

Brothers Empowered to Teach provides mentorship, apprenticeship, and pathways to careers in education through early exposure to teaching and targeted experiences cultivating an organic love of teaching children. Brothers Empowered to Teach envisions a world where every child can see themselves in and through the eyes of his/her teacher.

Starting as an idea in 2012, Brothers Empowered to Teach grew into a cohort of over 60 fellows serving ten schools in two cities (New Orleans and Baton Rouge), and two after-school partnerships. Relationships with organizations like the Alliance for Diversity and Excellence serve to support the experiential learning of BE2T Fellows through mentorship and professional guidance. Co-founders Larry Irvin, Jr. and Kristyna Jones developed a solution for getting more Black men in the classroom.

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