Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Art 
Despite its slightly esoteric name, Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Art (CEPA) is really a well established non-profit that acts as a community resource for photographic creation, education, and presentation in Buffalo, NY. Through a wide variety of programs and initiatives, CEPA manages to explore photography from many angles. One of these is the Center’s Youth Education Program, CEPA Gallery’s Youth Education Program that offers students from Buffalo area schools and communities “projects that use photography and the digital arts to enhance their overall academic and life experience.” The Center also hosts photo-centric after-school programs as well as a photo summer camp for kids. 

City Hearts Photography 
The City Hearts Photography program allows children growing up in Los Angeles’ infamous Skid Row area the chance to explore a new form of creative expression, one which, as the website says, “combines art with the world in which they live. Students learn to shoot with cameras, not guns.” Using these skills, they explore different forms of photography: still life, portrait, landscape and photojournalism. Founded by former L.A.’s Public Defenders, Sherry and Bob Jason, City Hearts offers photography and performing programs for free to kids who are at risk, or who have already been through the judicial system. The website lists results for this 20 year old project, and they show that art can radically change a life.

Crealdé School of Art 
This Central Florida art school uses photography and storytelling as ways for at risk, inner-city and rural minority kids to “explore their community and document their surroundings,” helping them to build their identity and remember their history. “Storytellers,” is the Crealdé School of Art’s program combines oral history and photography as a way for children to discover the history of their communities and tell the story of their own lives. Students are taught how to use camera equipment and darkroom facilities while also gathering information about their subjects and shaping a written counterpart to their photo essays. The results of these thoughtful explorations are exhibited in community settings.

Critical Exposure, Baltimore 
Critical Exposure is a response to the drastic disparities that exist among public schools, using photography to give students the tools advocate effectively for better conditions and equality in their public schools. Here photography empowers students to not only document problems such as crumbling infrastructures, failed education policies, and racial division, but also to portray the work of good teachers and mentors. The project helps young people to develop skills as documentary photographers, giving them the ability to document them in order to help themselves. Galleries of student photos on the site showcase the work of a new generation of engaged and committed photographers. 

Focus on Youth, Portland 
Focus on Youth is designed to give Portland (Oregon)’s at-risk population a new way of seeing. Since it’s founding in 2004, FOY has attracted over 100 homeless youth, refugees, school dropouts, teen parents and recovering addicts to join the classes and learn photography from volunteer mentors. In a short time, this non-profit has managed to set up a program of workshops and one-on-one mentorship. Working from a donated studio, gallery and darkroom and using donated equipment, volunteer professional photographers help teens form the skills and abilities in photography that will serve them in many different aspects of their lives. Photography becomes a way for FOY’s participants to examine their relationships, their surroundings and shape of their lives. Their work is shared with a wider community through a gallery on the website and exhibitions all over Portland. 

Foto Mission 
Based in Florida’s South Beach, Foto Mission’s stated cause is promoting photography for social change. The non-profit instigates and presents on-line and in-gallery exhibitions by individual photographers and collectives, most dealing with issues around raising awareness and motivating social change. For the past few years, Foto Mission has partnered with children’s organizations and volunteer photographers to produce “The Waiting,” an exhibition of portraits of children waiting for adoption. Bringing personal images of these kids to a wider audience has significantly helped the adoption rate for these older and special needs children. There are galleries of other individual and group photo essays and projects on the site, and just in case you think Foto Mission is too focused on issues, there is the occasional “Photographing Flowers” workshop to balance things out. 

FotoFest - Literacy Through Photography 
FotoFest may view photography as a means of international exchange on art and ideas, but it also recognize the medium’s power to “act locally.” Its innovative writing program “Literacy Through Photography” is a lesson plan that aims to build visual, verbal and textual literacy in 3rd through 12th grade children. The program has been going in local schools for 15 years and is the quiet and continuing success story behind the hoopla of FotoFest’s bi-annual convergence in Houston, Texas. The conference features discussion forums, film and video series, and exhibitions by established and lesser-known photographers in galleries around the city. Along with the “big picture,” each meeting features workshops, a portfolio review with photography professionals, museum curators, gallery owners and magazine editors. There is also a Fine Print auction that benefits “Literacy Through Photography.” 


Gallery 44 
Like many artist-run art centers, Toronto’s Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography is particularly interested in supporting and advancing the work of local artists, in this case photographers. Offering something for all levels, the Gallery puts special emphasis on education, with a strong roster of weekend workshops, photography summer camp for teens and a professional photographer – as – mentor student outreach program. A resource centre, a darkroom and production facilities round out the organization’s assets. Submission guidelines are provided for what looks to be a healthy exhibition schedule, the quality of which is confirmed by the Gallery’s impressive publication list. Exceptional documentation is provided by an online database that allows searches by artist, exhibition or image. 

Hyde Park, Chicago 
The Hyde Park Art Center calls itself “the oldest alternative exhibition space in Chicago” and is equally known for its longstanding community education program. Classes range from a variety of art and crafts classes and workshops for adults to youth and pre-school programs. The Teen Photography class leads adolescents through the basics of film photography and developing. In this increasingly digital age, classes like this offer kids an understanding of the “do it yourself” possibilities of the medium. 

What began with a couple of photographers trying to address the problem of an epidemic of teen loitering with a free course in photography has become an established and respected outreach program. Photographers Bill Ledger and John Willis thought that someone should give the kids in their Brattleboro, Vermont, neighborhood something creative to with their free time, and thus what began with a one time course quickly became a year round program that has attracted a consistent following. Judging by the quantity and variety of student work displayed in galleries on the site, the project has taken off. Beyond the technical classes that introduce kids to the basics of analogue and digital photography and web design, there are side projects that bring kids and their work into the wider world. One such project is Exposures, a cross-cultural youth exchange program that brings kids together from Vermont, New York City, the Navajo Tribe in Arizona, and the Oglala Lakota Tribe in South Dakota. 

Kids Camera Project, New Orleans 
The New Orleans Kid Camera Project was created to address the psychological and emotional impacts of Hurricane Katrina on children returning home to New Orleans. Through the use of photography, creative writing and mixed media, children from flooded neighborhoods explore their environment and express themselves, their stories and feelings with their friends. The project provides a venue for growth and recovery. The project teaches the children tangible skills, exposes them to new means of expression, and hopes to empower them to impact their lives and environment.

Leave Out Violence 
Canadian based Leave Out ViolencE (LOVE), is a long-term violence-prevention youth program that uses photography and writing to work through the causes and impact of aggression. Here, victims, witnesses and perpetrators of violence come together. Young mentors lead their peers in multi-media and leadership training to develop life-skills, a sense of community and critical thinking. Photojournalism becomes the medium through which kids can come to terms with the complicated feelings the violence in their lives creates, all the while finding a new voice. The site features a gallery of photos and writings by kids from across Canada. 

Literacy Through Photography
Literacy Through Photography was launched in the Durham Public School System in 1989 as a two-week project through the Center for Documentary Studies. Now, almost 10 years later, it thrives in 14 public schools, including a day treatment center for students with behavioral and emotional disabilities.

My Story Workshops, Portland
Building upon Wendy Ewald’s Literacy Through Photography program, MyStory collaborates with families, schools and community organizations in developing projects that build confidence and engage the creativity of young people. MyStory works primarily in the disadvantaged neighborhoods in and around the city of Portland, but also operates similar projects in South Africa. In each case, MyStory puts cameras in the hands of young people; “Photography is a uniquely accessible medium that empowers” and provides opportunities for youth to share their stories with the world.

National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) 
National Press Photographers Association site provides a central meeting place where photojournalists can discuss topics that relate to the profession, including the stresses and traumas associated with being a photojournalist. NPPA Member Services offers a crisis intervention team, a peer support network that consists of fellow photojournalists, trained to listen and support. The NPPA’s site also contains news and events pages, professional development information, competition notices, and services for members. Members have access to active message boards covering a broad range of topics including business, news, current events, digital editing, ethical issues and photo gear.


New Urban Arts
New Urban Arts, the interdisciplinary arts studio for high school students and emerging artists in Providence, Rhode Island, believes that everyone needs a mentor “someone to trust, to share honesty with, and to enable us to be accountable to ourselves.” NUA’s three core programs are clearly designed to educate the kids, their mentors and the community, creating a self-perpetuating cycle of creative endeavor. In their studio and exhibition space, New Urban Arts runs a variety of programs as well as mentoring for young artists who explore the visual, performing, and literary arts through yearlong free out-of-school programs. Results can be seen and heard on the New Urban Arts podcasts, Flickr gallery, blog page, YouTube site and MySpace page, and measured by the positive statistics and many awards this non-profit has garnered. 

There is a poetic quality about ph15, a project that aims to create a beacon of self-expression in the disenfranchised youth of Buenos Aires’s "Ciudad Oculta", or Hidden City. It’s in this often forgotten place that career photographers have built a program that aims to help adolescents see themselves and the Hidden City through the lens of a camera. Far from being anonymous, the kids participating in this project are named, pictured and given their own gallery space on this slickly designed site. Beyond allowing the students to see themselves in new ways, the other aim of ph15 is clearly for others to see them, and the list of Brazilian and international exhibitions of their work is a testament to this project’s success. 

Picture Me - Museum of Contemporary Photography 
Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Photography expanded its education mandate into an outreach program and created Picture Me, an intensive after school photography program for students at selected schools in the Chicago area. Led by a teaching team of high school art teachers and Columbia College photography faculty, graduate students, and MoCP staff and guest artists, students are taught the basics of photography, darkroom practice and digital imaging. They are encouraged to develop their own artistic voices through photography, becoming more self-reflective as their observe their world through a lens and consider the experience through journaling. At the end of this intensive course, students have the same skill levels as students in a first year college photography program. The crowning achievement of this program must be for students to see their work framed and exhibited in the hallowed halls of the Museum at MoCP’s annual Talkin’ Back exhibition. 

Rayko Photo Center - Youth 
In a town where people have access to some excellent photo resources, San Francisco’s RayKo Photo Center provides a community photo facility that includes, among very many other things, a vital Youth Education Program. The schedule features in-class or on-site photo courses for kids 6 and up, and there is also a “summer camp” program that invites parents to drop their kids off at the RayKo Center where they will “spend all day learning about photography, doing prints, taking photos, and going on field trips.” The program organizers make the valid point that photography provides kids with that rare blend of artistic and technical skills, while opening up a new avenue for self-expression.

SF Camerawork - First Exposures 
First Exposures: Youth Opportunities Through Photography develops academic AND life skills by combining the benefits of mentoring relationships with art education. Volunteer mentors are professional photographers and students are creative young people, aged 11-18. Student backgrounds may include homelessness, transitional living, foster-care or low-income living situations. The students and mentors work together in one-to-one partnerships in a group setting. First Exposures fosters supportive intergenerational relationships in a stimulating environment of active learning.

Through the Eyes of a Child
Under the tutelage of a dozen professional photographers, 12 children from a variety of cultural backgrounds armed with cameras photograph their worlds.

Venice Arts
Moving past the clichés of California’s Venice Beach scene, this site reveals the area’s important population of low-income residents and the vital community arts organization that serves them. Venice Arts is a mentorship program that uses art (primarily photography) to offer local kids from ages 10 to 18 the tools and guidance to stimulate imagination, creativity and self-confidence. According to the site’s impressive “Venice Arts documentary short film,” mentors are creative professionals who share a strong bond with their students, supported by a well equipped facilities and excellent community outreach. Slide shows of student work and exhibitions give a sense of the organization’s achievements. 

Youth in Focus 
Seattle-based Youth in Focus provides an important insight when they say that photography uniquely combines instant gratification with endless potential for perfecting one’s art. It’s the spark of creativity and the work ethic to see a project through that this non-profit has inspired by teaching year-round classes to students of all skill levels, cultural and economic backgrounds. The skills that photography awaken in students are nurtured by Youth in Focus’s network of teachers and mentors, hopefully to be transferred into useful life skills. Student work has been shown in some of Seattle’s most prestigious cultural venues, a testament to the quality of the work and to the quality of the teaching.