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Youth in Focus

Seattle, Washington, US

Our mission at Youth in Focus 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 low income, at-risk youth and place them in a challenging environment surrounded by high quality talented teachers, nurturing adult volunteer 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.

(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. High school students living in low-income families drop out of school six times the rate of peers from high-income families, and nearly half of all drop outs, ages 16-24, are unemployed.   It has been estimated that each year’s class of dropouts will cost the country over $200B during their lifetimes, due to lost earnings, public welfare and crime. By attending our program, youth are able to become part of a community filled with support and resources to help them be successful.

(Direct Attention) We intentionally keep our classes small to facilitate maximum student-adult interaction and relationship building. Youth in Focus creates a healthy, positive place where diverse students feel they belong. Each class is limited to 10 – 13 students with one teaching artist and two to three adult volunteer mentors. Core classes include three levels of traditional black and white film and three levels of digital photography. Classes meet twice weekly over eight weeks for a total of 43.5 hours of instruction, plus time spent outside class, as well as, their Kick Off, End of Quarter Show and Open Darkroom/Digital Lab time. When a youth is accepted in our program they are provided with professional instruction, mentoring, camera rental, and all supplies needed to both make and print photographic images either digitally or in the darkroom.

(Creativity and Self Worth) Photography provides a valuable medium for youth to develop a sense of their own personal style and explore what is personally important for them and worth communicating through their art. Through our classes youth gain a strong sense of what makes them unique and valuable.


Organizational Information


Seattle, Washington, US 98144