Non-profit photography program for NYC teens
All profits from print sales on this site go towards sponsoring cameras, field trips, and college expenses for our students
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Since 2005, NYC SALT has been working with inner-city teenagers in Manhattan to help them discover, nurture and develop their story-telling abilities through the lens of a camera. Giving its students the tools for creative visual expression, this initiative helps them build their self-esteem and confidence, ultimately empowering them with opportunities to achieve higher education and stable careers. Founded by Alicia Hansen, a professional freelance photographer with many years of media and advertising experience, the program is loosely modeled on Kids With Cameras, a photography non-profit serving kids internationally (the organization originating out of the documentary Born Into Brothels), and Dave Egger’s non-profit 826NYC, an after-school creative writing program. NYC SALT focuses exclusively on New York City teenagers, emphasizing student exposure to career opportunities in the creative industry, giving them an apprenticeship experience, and pushing them towards college.
At the heart of NYC SALT is a one-year renewable photography and mentoring program that meets weekly for three hours throughout year. Students are provided with digital cameras and computers and are taught by trained professional photographers, editors, videographers, and graphic designers who volunteer their time, expertise, and business connections. Students spend the year learning the technical and creative aspects of the craft and how to apply their skills to the job market.
Most students come from low-income mostly Latino families that struggle to provide the support needed to succeed in today’s world. According to a May 2010 report by the Pew Hispanic Center, among all Hispanics age 20 or greater only 37% have some college education, the lowest among all ethnic groups. Many teenagers among this demographic crave a creative outlet to help steer them in a positive direction. NYC SALT offers its students the freedom to express their unique identities, and affords them the opportunity to transform their distinctive backgrounds into works of art through personalized instruction and with the tools of a professional photographer. Our high school students have had internships with Diane Von Furstenburg and Syrup Ad Agency. They have been national portfolio winners through the Scholastic Art Awards. They have attended seminars and lectires with world renowned photographers, Peter Turnley, Joe McNally, Bill Eppridge, Bambi Cantrell, and David McLain.
NYC SALT is structured so that students work incrementally towards achieving the necessary skills to develop portfolios for college and to attain freelance jobs. The program culminates in a gallery show, at which the students’ photographs are showcased and sold to raise funds for the organization’s continuing operation. One of the best measures of NYC SALT’s success is the fact that all of our graduating seniors are pursuing a college education, many with full scholarships.
For exposure to the job market, students take field trips to media companies such as Bloomberg News, Miramax Pictures, NPR, Sports Illustrated, McGarry Bowen Ad Agency, Syrup Ad Agency, and the Lucie Awards. In addition, NYC SALT has a mentoring program in which each high school student is matched with a mentor, as well as a program set up for SAT help and counseling on colleges and applications. To ensure that NYC SALT students stay in college, college students are matched with mentors to help them navigate through that often-difficult first year.
This year, NYC SALT has begun working with local businesses to help the students take small freelance jobs to practice their skills and earn money for college. The class also develops executive skills critical for success in any endeavor by helping the students learn planning, organization, time-management, presentation skills, and goal-directed persistence.
Although volunteer instructors and equipment contributions from a number of friends in the photography industry help to keep our cost down, we still rely on the financial generosity of others to make our programs a reality. Please consider helping these bright, talented students with a gift today by making a donation through our website, www.nycsalt.org, or by mailing a check to: