Outreach Spotlight: Youth Voices 2021 – YMCA & VII Academy

Explore the VII + PhotoWings Partnership:

Outreach Spotlight: VII Insider Videos

VII Community in partnership with PhotoWings

VII + PhotoWings: Foundry Photojournalism Workshop

Outreach Spotlight: VII + YMCA Youth Voices


About The VII Foundation

The VII Foundation is an independent, charitable media and education non-profit organization. It was founded by Ron Haviv and Gary Knight in 2001 when they recognized that media funding for long-term projects was diminishing. In order to continue to produce work that addressed complex social, economic and human rights issues, they started the Foundation as an independent non-profit structure to secure support for continuing documentary practice and education.

Outreach Spotlight:
Youth Voices 2021 - YMCA & VII Academy


Youth Voices, a mentorship-based program, engaged 20 at-risk youth in a year-long program using storytelling projects, photographic education, and mentorship. Teens interacted regularly with experienced photographers and storytellers to create impactful work, learn communication and presentation skills, and have fun. During weekly group meetings and one-on-one sessions with mentors Ben Brody, Nina Robinson, Tsar Fedorsky, and Alison Morley, they learned life and photographic skills, looked at inspiring pictures (including their own) and worked toward creating a final public exhibition. They created self-directed documentary projects focused on representing their neighborhoods and lives from their own perspectives, learned to see with emotion and understanding, and make photographs reflecting their own personal voice and vision.

Along with their mentors, a diverse network of guests and advisors introduced the students to a range of photographic concepts and skills including:

  • Personal Vision
  • Identity and Authenticity
  • Lightroom/Workflow
  • Editing and Sequencing
  • Picture Story
  • Photobooks, Zines and Guerilla Exhibits
  • Problem Solving

PhotoWings partnered with VII Foundation to support the mentors, guests and advisors, and online training materials. Cameras were donated by Fujifilm USA, Adobe provided software licenses, the YMCA of Boston donated computers, notebooks/swag were donated by Report for America and Digital Silver Imaging made prints of the students' work. 

What skills do young people learn through photography?

• Problem-solving
• Interpersonal communication
• Creativity
• Confidence
• Anticipating events before they happen
• Public speaking
• Building lifelong friendships
• Advocating for themselves and their communities

Explore the Youth Voices Syllabus (Download PDF)


Explore the Youth Voices Lesson Plans (Download PDF)