Youth in Focus (Seattle)
Our mission is to empower urban youth, through photography, to experience their world in new ways and to make positive choices for their lives. We put cameras in the hands of youth and place them in a challenging environment surrounded by high quality talented teachers, nurturing adult mentors, and create a strong community of support. Through photography our students find their voice, identity, creativity, and gain new confidence in their worth and abilities.
For 23 years, we have provided a high-quality, nationally recognized youth development program using photography to help at-risk youth build skills that give them the confidence and self-worth to challenge barriers to a positive life. Approximately 3,900 students have gone through our program and we are proud to continue to offer at-risk youth the chance to tell their story through a camera.
(Critical Time) We work with youth, 13-19 years of age, who face a variety of challenges in their lives on a daily basis, and who struggle with a combination of combination of racial or ethnic discrimination, poverty or homophobia. At Youth in Focus, we feel that we reach at-risk youth at a crucial time – at or before the 9th grade – when 90% of the majority of youth that drop out of high school do during that year. Studies have found that the majority of kids who drop out of high school do so because of financial pressures, or because they do not believe they can be successful.
(Creativity and Self Worth) We believe photography is an exceptional art form for working with youth to address these barriers, and to combat isolation, disconnection and school dropout rates. Through our classes youth gain a strong sense of what makes them unique and valuable. At-risk youth who have been discouraged by a lack of success in other areas of their lives find they can succeed at photography and are motivated to achieve more.
(Scholastic Benefits) Seattle Public Schools’ Service Learning Coordinator approved our youth development photography program to qualify for service learning hours for youth who fully complete our program. (Seattle Schools require all students to complete 60 hours of service learning in order to graduate.) We are also on the Creative Advantage Roster, allowing our program and teaching artists the opportunity to share our youth development photography curriculum in classrooms across Seattle in order to serve and impact more youth.