Alvin was born and raised in Indianapolis. He graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, California, majoring in theater. He worked abroad in Thailand and moved back to Indianapolis in 2011. He served as a Public Ally Americorps member, which gave him the opportunity to get a sense of many different communities and organizations around the city. It was through this position that he connected with Kheprw Institute.
Alvin has worked at Kheprw Institute (KI) since 2012, starting with a focus on developing KI's social media outreach and training youth and seniors to use technology. He manages one of KI’s empowerment enterprises, Express Yourself Rain Barrels which sells rain barrels. KI’s empowerment enterprises have 3 main focuses: empowering the people involved, doing good in the community and sustaining the organization. In 2015, Alvin took on responsibility for growing KI NuMedia, another KI empowerment enterprise focused on web, graphic design, branding, social media and video services. He is also a part of KI NuMedia’s programming team and the company’s lead for web analytics.
1. What is your name?
2. How long have you lived in Indy?
I grew up on Indy’s Northeastside and graduated from Lawrence North High School. Except for short stints away at college and abroad I have lived in Indianapolis my whole life.
3. Why have you focused your career on the nonprofit sector?
To be honest I haven’t ever been focused on nonprofits. After coming back from Thailand, I returned home to be close to family and set down roots after long wandering. I spent several months looking for a job to do community organizing or education and got the opportunity to work with Public Allies, which introduced me to nonprofit work.
My passions have always been for issues of social justice. It's as if growing up there has always been a voice deep inside that has said, “Something is very wrong with our society and world.” This voice has driven my journey to better understand and improve myself and to work for social change.
The time I spent abroad in Thailand helped to dispel my misconceptions about American wealth and “Third World” poverty. The Thai villages I got to know were wealthy in both spirit and community. It was seeing this strength that helped me see clearly the reality of the crushing poverty of spirit and community which faces America, including my own home.
I returned home and connected with Kheprw Institute. I've been learning, growing, making mistakes (a lot), succeeding (occasionally), reflecting, struggling and laughing ever since. To most people it seems like an odd match, a white/Asian-American guy working in an organization steeped in the African American cultural and historic context. To us, it's very natural and our common passion and commitment to making change bonds us together. This KI family, more than any other, has empowered me to become a better leader, critical thinker and human being.
4. What would you say to another young professional considering a nonprofit job?
Follow your dreams and passions wherever they may lead you. You don’t have to work for a nonprofit to make a positive impact on people or change the world. You can do that wherever you may find yourself, doing any kind of work. It will be that much more sustaining if you care a whole lot and love what you’re doing.
5. If you could learn a brand new skill, what would it be?
I would learn to speed read. I truly love reading when it’s books that I enjoy, but when it comes to acquiring new technology skills, reading can be dry, technical and boring. I would love to zip through it and retain what I need!
6. If you were an inanimate object, which would you be and why?
I would be an uncarved block of wood because its possibilities are limitless and mysterious.
7. What do you hope to accomplish that you haven’t yet?
I have no idea, except to become the best I can be.
Want to support Alvin’s work?
Kheprw Institute is currently raising money to turn a vacant
house into a youth center that will provide housing and work space for young entrepreneurs and serve as a model for sustainability for the community. This is part of an effort to save lives and empower young people in our community.
See more at: www.kheprw.org/savinglives