Person

Alvin Starks

Occupation:

Director of Strategic Initiatives, NAACP

Director, Open Society-U.S. Equality team at Open Society Institute

 

Alvin Starks is the strategic initiatives director for the NAACP and the director of the Open Society-U.S. Equality team at the Open Society Institute (OSI) of George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF).

In 2021, he coauthored an op-ed with Democracy Alliance head Pamela Shifman defending the teaching of critical race theory and other far-left philosophical frameworks in public schools. [1]

Career

Alvin Starks attended the State University of New York (SUNY) and Columbia University. He worked as a program officer for the Echoing Green foundation where he supported entrepreneurs working on human rights projects. He has also worked for the Arcus Foundation as a senior program officer for racial justice and gender identity. [2]

From 2000-2007, Starks worked at the Open Society Institute (OSI) of George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (OSF). In 2004, he created and led OSI’s Racial Justice Initiative, and in 2007, he created OSI’s Black Male Initiative. [3] [4] He also started the New York City Community Fellowship and Initiative Programs. [5]

In 2009, Starks joined the NAACP as a strategic initiatives director at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture, and has worked for the group ever since. He has also worked for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation where he fundraised for a racial-policy initiative. In 2013, he was director of global partnerships for the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. [6] [7]

In 2020, Starks was elected to the advisory board of the Narrative Initiative, a project of the New Venture Fund which trains left-progressives in public messaging. [8]

Starks is a former board member of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. [9]

At some point, Starks returned to OSI as director of the Open Society-U.S. Equality team, and remains in this position while also working for the NAACP. [10]

My Brother’s Keeper Criticism

In 2014, President Barack Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative to provide financial support and other opportunities to non-white boys and men. The program faced criticism from liberal sources like the Nation for focusing on men at the exclusion of women. Alvin Starks was one of more than 1,000 individuals, including 200 non-white men, who signed an open letter by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) criticizing the initiative. Starks personally criticized the initiative for overlooking women, lacking a “structural analysis of racial inequality,” and ignoring left-progressive racial issues, including affirmative action and the earned income tax credit. [11]

Critical Race Theory

On June 22, 2021, The Chronicle of Philanthropy published an article written by Alvin Starks and Democracy Alliance president Pamela Shifman defending the teaching of critical race theory and other far-left philosophical frameworks in public schools. [12]

The article attacked Republican-led efforts to ban the teaching of critical race theory in schools, which the authors claim is a veiled attempt to “prevent critical thinking” and “scare and silence teachers” to create a new generation of conservative students who will eventually vote for Republicans. Furthermore, the opposition is part of a larger “reactionary” attempt to “thwart the racial reckoning” brought to the United States by the death of George Floyd to “maintain white dominance and suppress racial progress.” Allied attack efforts allegedly include criticisms of the New York Times’s 1619 Project, President Donald Trump’s executive order prohibiting federal contractors from using workplace diversity training programs later reversed by President Joe Biden, and defenses of statues of Confederate generals. [13]

Starks and Shifman attribute the reactionary efforts to “well-funded” nonprofit groups which influence the media with sensational stories and donate to schools to gain influence over curriculums. The authors lament that progressive nonprofits have been slow to counteract these measures, though they credit the NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the National Education Association with monitoring and fighting conservative influence in education for years. [14]

References

  1. Starks, Alvin; Shifman, Pamela. “The Right’s Attack on How Schools Teach Students About Racism Demands Philanthropy’s Full-Throttle Response.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. June 22, 2021. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/the-rights-attack-on-how-schools-teach-students-about-racism-demands-philanthropys-full-throttle-response?bc_nonce=ahzfxcchd647cymgxltb0f&cid=reg_wall_signup. ^
  2. “Alvin Starks.” Berkeley Law. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://www.law.berkeley.edu/alvin-starks/. ^
  3. “Alvin Starks.” LinkedIn. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/alvin-starks-316a598/. ^
  4. “Alvin Starks.” Berkeley Law. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://www.law.berkeley.edu/alvin-starks/. ^
  5. “Alvin Louis Starks.” Relationships Science. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://relationshipscience.com/person/alvin-louis-starks-144397076. ^
  6. “Policing Blackness: Black Communities and Criminal Justice.” ABFE. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://www.abfe.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Policing-Blackness-Speaker-Bios.pdf. ^
  7. “Diversity and Outreach in the Obama Administration.” Stanford Alumni. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://cardinalalumni.stanford.edu/get/page/events/details?event_id=11680. ^
  8. “Transition at Narrative Initiative.” Narrative Initiative. April 15, 2020. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://narrativeinitiative.org/blog/transition-at-narrative-initiative/. ^
  9. “Alvin Louis Starks.” Relationships Science. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://relationshipscience.com/person/alvin-louis-starks-144397076. ^
  10. “Open Society Foundations Announce 2020 Soros Equality Fellows.” Open Society Foundations. September 8, 2020. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/newsroom/open-society-foundations-announce-2020-soros-equality-fellows. ^
  11. McClain, Dani. “Obama’s Racial Justice Initiative – for Boys Only.” The Nation. August 27, 2014. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/obamas-racial-justice-initiative-boys-only/. ^
  12. Starks, Alvin; Shifman, Pamela. “The Right’s Attack on How Schools Teach Students About Racism Demands Philanthropy’s Full-Throttle Response.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. June 22, 2021. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/the-rights-attack-on-how-schools-teach-students-about-racism-demands-philanthropys-full-throttle-response?bc_nonce=ahzfxcchd647cymgxltb0f&cid=reg_wall_signup. ^
  13. Starks, Alvin; Shifman, Pamela. “The Right’s Attack on How Schools Teach Students About Racism Demands Philanthropy’s Full-Throttle Response.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. June 22, 2021. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/the-rights-attack-on-how-schools-teach-students-about-racism-demands-philanthropys-full-throttle-response?bc_nonce=ahzfxcchd647cymgxltb0f&cid=reg_wall_signup. ^
  14. Starks, Alvin; Shifman, Pamela. “The Right’s Attack on How Schools Teach Students About Racism Demands Philanthropy’s Full-Throttle Response.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. June 22, 2021. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://www.philanthropy.com/article/the-rights-attack-on-how-schools-teach-students-about-racism-demands-philanthropys-full-throttle-response?bc_nonce=ahzfxcchd647cymgxltb0f&cid=reg_wall_signup. ^
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