NASW Foundation National Programs
NASW Social Work Pioneers®
Alvin Schorr (1921-2016)
Alvin Schorr's career was identified with public social policy, particularly with the issues surrounding income maintenance. Born in New York City in 1921, Schorr was graduated from the City College of New York with a BSS and from Washington University in St. Louis with an MSW. After college he was a social worker and executive in various public assistance, child welfare, and family counseling agencies. This phase of his career culminated with the executive directorship of the Family Service of Northern Virginia.
In 1958, Schorr received an appointment as a Family Life Specialist in the Social Security Administration with the responsibility to adapt social security programs to changing family needs. He dealt with issues such as AFDC, housing, and poverty. In 1963, Schorr began a two-year stint as the Social Security Administration's Acting Chief of Long Range Research, where he headed analyses of poverty in the U.S. and the relationship of family and income development.
In 1965, Schorr moved from Social Security to the Office of Economic Opportunity, again in the area of research and planning the allocation of OE0 and other government funds in the war against poverty. In 1967, he moved to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Individual and Family Services.
Schorr moved from the government to the academic sector at the end of the Lyndon Johnson administration. In November, 1968, he went to Brandeis University as professor of social policy and director of the Center for Studies of Income Maintenance Policy (later he initiated a similar center at New York University), a project that provided consultation to model cities programs. In 1970, Schorr became dean of the New York University School of Social Work and in 1973 he became the General Director of the New York Community Service Society, a position he held until 1977.
After two years (1977-79) as visiting professor at the Catholic University of America, Schorr became the Leonard Mayo Professor of Family and Child Welfare at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
He received numerous awards, among them a Distinguished Service Award (1966) and the Distinguished Alumnus Citation (1970) from Washington University's George Warren Brown School of Social Work, the Michael Schwerner award for civil rights leadership (1972), and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Adelphi University (1975). He was a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar in England in 1962-63.