Past Projects

Location: Thurgood Marshall Center
Dates Of Project: September 2013-November 2013
Do young people really take advantage of the opportunities offered to them? Are they interested in themselves or the collective? The Youth Internship is a 8-week in-house program comprised of youth from all over the city. Youth Interns learn the basics of using photography to create social change and how varying forms of oppression intersect and affect their lives. Upon completion of the program...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Dates Of Project: September 2012-May 2013
In the fall, Critical Exposure worked with 9th and 10th graders in an after-school program at Eastern SHS. The students went through the process of selecting an issue, gathering evidence through their photos, and presenting their demand to the principal, which was to secure a librarian at their school next year. Their principal was supportive and has already taken strides in making sure that this...
Location: Thurgood Marshall Center
Issue: School-to-Prison Pipeline
Dates Of Project: September 2012-May 2013
This school year, students in Critical Exposure’s Fellowship program focused on ending the School-to-Prison-Pipeline (STPP) by fighting to implement Restorative Justice programs in all D.C. public high schools. This was the Fellowships first ever citywide campaign and our youth threw themselves into their work; documenting the effects of the STPP on their lives and in their schools, meeting with...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Dates Of Project: September 2012-May 2013
Partner: Multi-Ethnic Concerns Club
Critical Exposure is partnering with Wilson High School's Multi-Ethnic Concerns Club for the 2012-2013 school year. Students founded the club last school year in response to the racism they witnessed in the classroom. Now, with Critical Exposure involved, students are learning photography and advocacy tactics to document and eliminate racism and discrimination from the classroom. During the...
Location: Thurgood Marshall Center
Dates Of Project: September 2011-June 2012
This summer students in Critical Exposure’s Fellowship program focused on the word change – what change means, where they see change, and how change is made. The students documented the U Street Corridor, highlighting recent developments in the area and the changes the neighborhood has experienced over the past few decades. To help with their project, students met with Nizam Ali, currently the co...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Issue: Libraries
Dates Of Project: Ongoing
What can students teach teachers? Our students at Eastern SHS’s Envision program show that young people are experts on best practices in teaching. They know instinctively that teachers and students should be held to mutual respect, and that teachers are more effective when they share their personal background with students.  Students learned photography techniques and discussed empowering...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Issue: School-to-Prison Pipeline
Dates Of Project: Ongoing
Is the world of “policy” accessible to youth? Can youth do more than point out what’s wrong in their schools? Our Fellowship Program comprises young people from all over the city who have demonstrated leadership skills in a prior Critical Exposure program. This year the Fellows continued their 2013 campaign to end the school-to-prison pipeline, by implementing restorative justice practices in...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Issue: Arts education, school discipline, extracurricular activities
Dates Of Project: Ongoing
Critical Exposure began working with students at Luke C. Moore High School in Northeast D.C. in the fall of 2010. Since then Critical Exposure has worked with a new group of youth each semester. Their advocacy campaigns have focused on arts education, school discipline policies, extracurricular opportunities and other aspects of improving their school environment. During the 2012-2013...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Issue: Youth Advocacy
Dates Of Project: Ongoing
Partner: DC Alliance of Youth Advocates
  S.T.E.P. Up DC is an issue-focused citywide education organizing initiative based in northwest Washington, D.C.  Our goal is to identify, train and support youth leaders who can build the power to create policy changes that ensure every student graduates prepared for higher education or meaningful employment.  S.T.E.P. Up D.C. is coordinated by two D.C. nonprofits – Critical...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Issue: Library, Peer Jury, Educational Opportunities
Dates Of Project: Ongoing
Fall 2013   Do students who arrive late to school not care about their education?   Our students at Washignton Metropolitan High School (D.C. Met) launched a campaign to change the school’s attendance policy, which stated that if a student arrived late to his/her 1st period class, s/he would be marked absent for the entire school day.   For their campaign, students documented their...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Dates Of Project: June-August 2013
Partner: Washington National Cathedral
Are we living a post-racial society? Does everyone have the same chance of success? Is individual determination all that’s needed to succeed?  These questions emerged as Critical Exposure partnered with Cathedral Scholars, a summer program run by Washington National Cathedral that selects 15 honor-roll students from D.C. high schools and offers them a rigorous college preparatory...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Issue: Teen Pregnancy
Dates Of Project: June-August 2013
Critical Exposure partnered with the D.C. Promise Neighborhood Initiative’s (DCPNI). DCPNI is a new organization focused on improving educational outcomes for young people in the Kenilworth and Parkside neighborhoods of Northeast D.C. Students partnered with the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy to create public service announcements and other outreach materials designed to educate youth...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Issue: Racism
Dates Of Project: June-August 2013
Partner: D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities
How do affordable housing policies and gentrification relate to racism in D.C.? The D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities and Critical Exposure jointly offered a summer program through partnerships with Guerilla Arts, a community-based arts and education organization, and Hands on the Future, an organization that trains youth in multimedia communications and internet technology. The youth...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Issue: Foster Care
Dates Of Project: June-August 2013
How does an unstable home life affect one’s education?  Critical Exposure worked with Partners for Kids in Care, an initiative of the D.C. Child & Family Services Agency that supports youth in the foster care system, to explore this question. Nearly all youth in the program had experience in the foster care system, and the group brainstormed changes they wanted to see. Despite the myth...
Location: Thurgood Marshall Center
Dates Of Project: June-August 2013
What happens when youth lead their peers in discussions of issues impacting D.C. youth? Three CE students – Anaise A., Malik T., and Khadijah W. – partnered with our program staff to co-facilitate our 6-week summer programs* to find out.    Each student-and-staff pair traveled to a site twice per week to facilitate CE’s curriculum with other high school-aged youth. At the end of each...
Location: Columbia Heights
Dates Of Project: January-June 2012
Partner: 8th Grade American History Class
Critical Exposure has partnered with an 8th Grade American History class at the Capital City Public Charter Upper School. In their history class, the students are studying the Civil Rights Movement, particularly the Brown vs. Board of Education case of 1954.  CE is joining in this discussion by challenging the students to think about how the stories and experiences of those involved in...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Dates Of Project: January 2013-May 2013
Critical Exposure worked with a group of students in collaboration with the creative writing class at Ballou SHS. The students wrote “I Am From” poems reflecting their lives and the communities of which they are a part. Students then decided to focus their advocacy efforts on getting a more clear lunch & food policy at their school. Right now, security guards throw away food that students...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Issue: Arts Education
Dates Of Project: August 2012 - November 2012
Partner: Sitar Arts Center
This year at Sitar Arts Center, students "read" photos from all around the world, examining photography techniques used, like composition and juxtaposition, as well as the overall message. Students at Sitar identified the proposed arts education requirements in D.C. public schools, which included loose language that had the possibility to impact arts education, as an issue they...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Dates Of Project: 6/2012 - 8/2012
Critical Exposure partnered with a teen group at Children's Hospital this summer to investigate issues of sexual health, with a particular focus on the lack of sex education in schools. Students explored photos taken by people with HIV/AIDS from around the globe and eventually took to the streets of D.C. to document any signs of public education around sexual health. The youth interviewed...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Dates Of Project: 6/2012 - 8/2012
Critical Exposure partnered with Metro TeenAIDS, an organization committed to training youth to serve as peer educators on sexual health and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. We worked with their Young Women of Color Leadership Council, training students in the skills of photography, writing, and advocacy. Youth documented the lives of young people in D.C., interviewed D.C. youth and adults the...
Location: Ward 4, Washington, D.C.
Dates Of Project: 6/2012 - 8/2012
This summer Critical Exposure partnered with Youth Ambassadors at M.O.M.I.E.’s TLC, a youth organization based in D.C.’s Ward 4. Students discussed high rates of homelessness throughout the city and the need for improved facilities for the homeless. They also documented how high crime rates affect their communities and why better youth employment opportunities are important for education and...
Location: Bladensburg, MD
Dates Of Project: 6/2012 - 8/2012
This summer, Critical Exposure worked in Prince George’s County, Maryland, partnering with Eco City Farms and the Magic Johnson Community Empowerment Center in Bladensburg. We worked with youth in the summer “Seed to Feed” program – which trained youth to be peer educators in food justice, health, and nutrition – and taught them how to use photography to advocate for improved access to fresh...
Location: Ward 8, Washington, D.C.
Dates Of Project: 6/2012 - 8/2012
For the second year in a row, Critical Exposure partnered with the DCCAH to work with youth participating in the Summer Youth Employment Program. These youth were based at We Act Radio, an independent radio station on MLK Ave in Anacostia. Our students spent their summer exploring the changes happening in Anacostia; students interviewed and photographed business and home owners from the...
Location: Ward 4, Washington, D.C.
Dates Of Project: 6/2012 - 8/2012
This summer Critical Exposure partnered with World Vision's Youth Empowerment Program and the Latin American Youth Center at Roosevelt Senior High School. Students discussed the underlying causes of high teenage pregnancy rates, and the lack of communication resources for ESL students and their families.  Students then created community partnership campaigns around these two issues by...
Location: Washington, DC
Dates Of Project: 6/2012 - 8/2012
This summer Critical Exposure partnered with the Young Women’s Project. We trained youth allies in their Foster Care Campaign on how to use photography and writing to enhance their advocacy efforts around the Foster Care Youth Rights Act, which was recently introduced into the D.C. Council and is now in a working group. Youth documented the rights that all foster care youth are guaranteed but...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Issue: More Investment in Upward Bound
Dates Of Project: 6/11 - 7/11
Partner: LAYC, GWU
This summer Critical Exposure worked with a group of students who used photography to advocate for more funding for their college prep program -- and they won! The students attend public and public charter schools throughout the city, but they come together to participate in an Upward Bound program through the Latin American Youth Center.  Upward Bound is a program funded by the U.S....
Location: Washington, DC
Issue: The Dropout Crisis
Dates Of Project: 2008-present
Partner: S.T.E.P. Up DC, DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, Sasha Bruce Youth-Led, Spingarn STAY Senior High School, Ballou Senior High School, Youth Action Research Group
Nearly 50% of DC students do not graduate from high school. Only 9% get a college degree within five years of leaving high school. Critical Exposure has sought to provide the DC community and policymakers with a unique youth perspective on the causes, consequences, and solutions to the city’s graduation crisis. In 2009-2010, Critical Exposure worked with students in different programs around the...
Location: New Orleans
Issue: School conditions post-Hurricane Katrina
Dates Of Project: 2008-2010
Partner: Fyre Youth Squad, Vietnamese American Young Leaders of New Orleans, Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools
Since February 2008, Critical Exposure has been working with middle and high school youth in New Orleans to document conditions in their schools following Hurricane Katrina. Youth from organizations across the city, including Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, the Fyre Youth Squad, and Vietnamese American Young Leaders of New Orleans, are working together to ensure there is a strong youth voice in...
Location: Washington, DC
Issue: Youth Homelessness
Dates Of Project: 2008
Partner: DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, Sasha Bruce Independent Living Program
In 2007, Critical Exposure partnered with the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA) to bring attention to youth homelessness in DC. Critical Exposure and DCAYA trained several formerly homeless youth in the Sasha Bruce Independent Living Program to use photography to illustrate aspects of living on the streets. The youths’ photographs were turned into postcards and other advocacy tools used to...
Location: Pennsylvania
Issue: Fair funding for all public schools
Dates Of Project: 2007-2008
Partner: Education Law Center, Good Schools PA, Youth United for Change, Sto-Rox High School, McKeesport High School
Critical Exposure provided high school students across the state of Pennsylvania with cameras and training to enable them to document the impact of underfunding on their education, in partnership with organizations like Youth United for Change in Philadelphia. The students’ images and writing became a central component of a campaign effort to engage the public around the issue of educational...
Location: Washington, DC
Issue: Teen Pregnancy
Dates Of Project: 2007-2008
Partner: MELD-Even Start, Alexandria Youth Council, Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy
Critical Exposure has run a number of projects focused on the issue of teen pregnancy. Through the Meld-Even Start program in Washington, DC, we worked with teen parents who documented both the joys and difficulties of being a young parent. They wrote compelling captions, poetry, and journal entries to accompany photographs that gave a firsthand account of the challenges they faced as teen...
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Issue: Fulfilling the Promise of School Segregation Cases
Dates Of Project: 2006
Partner: IDRA
Albuquerque, NM - Critical Exposure worked with a small group of high school students to document the ways in which the promises of two court cases, Brown v. Board of Education and Mendez v. Westminster, have been fulfilled in their schools and how they remain unfulfilled. The students took photographs of their schools, wrote captions, and exhibited and spoke about their work during a Community...
Location: Washington, DC
Issue: School Facilities
Dates Of Project: 2006
Partner: Youth Education Alliance, Fix Our Schools, Close Up Foundation, Inner Vision
During the winter of 2005-2006, students from several organizations across the District of Columbia documented the conditions of their school facilities as well as positive aspects of their education. Students then shared their photographs with DC City Councilmembers as they debated over the School Modernization Financing Act. The legislation, which was approved in March 2006, promises $200...
Location: Baltimore, MD
Issue: School facilities
Dates Of Project: 2004-2006
Partner: Community Law in Action (CLIA), Baltimore Youth Congress, Kids on the Hill, Teen Leaders for Change, Crossroads Middle School, Maryland ACLU, Maryland Education Coalition, Safe and Sound's Youth Ambassadors, Wide Angle Media, Youth Dreamers, Baltimore Algebra Project
Baltimore was the site of Critical Exposure’s first project. In 2004-2005, 75 students took thousands of photographs of conditions in their schools, both positive and negative. More than 2,000 people, including the CEO of Baltimore City Schools, attended exhibits and events featuring students and their photographs. Venues included art galleries, a public library, a local college, and Baltimore...
Location: National
Issue: School conditions
Dates Of Project: 2/1/2011 - 2/22/2011
Partner: 21st Century School Fund, Healthy Schools Campaign
  Check out the results of the contest and exhibit here.   The 21st Century School Fund, Healthy Schools Campaign and Critical Exposure have launched Through Your Lens: School Facilities Across America, a national photo and essay contest, at  www.ThroughYourLens.org.  The contest, which will remain open until February 22, enables students, teachers, and...
Location: Silver Spring, MD
Dates Of Project: 11/2011 - 2/2012
Partner: Community Bridges Jumpstart
Critical Exposure has partnered with Community Bridges, a nonprofit working to empower young girls in Montogomery County, MD, to work with a group of girls at Eastern Middle School.  The girls have been very vocal about leadership, social change and improving their community through their photographs. They recently decided to work towards making their school and neighboring community 'Go...
Location: Ward 4, Washington, D.C.
Issue: School modernization
Dates Of Project: 10/2011 - ?
Roosevelt Senior High School, a comprehensive public high school in Ward 4 of D.C., was built nearly 80 years ago. While the building has seen small improvements over the years, the school building has many structural issues such as aging windows, leaky ceilings, broken sinks, and outdated technology. The staff and students have watched many other D.C. schools leap ahead in the modernization line...
Location: Ward 1, Washington, D.C.
Issue: Housing, Homelessness, Gentrification
Dates Of Project: 10/2011 - 1/2012
Partner: Columbia Heights/Shaw Collaborative
Weed and Seed students discussed many issues that affect them both directly and indirectly within the Columbia Heights and Shaw neighborhoods. They used the skills they learned in the Critical Exposure class to document these issues. Many of their photos depict the inability of uprising developments to provide an environment for original inhabitants of the area. Gentrification, slum...
Location: Cesar Chavez Parkside Middle School
Dates Of Project: 10/2010 - 1/2011
SEE THE PHOTOS Students at Cesar Chavez Parkside Middle School, a group of 25 6th, 7th and 8th graders, have identified two policies at their school that would like to see changed and improved.  The first is the school's late policy.  If students arrive after 7:55 a.m. they are required to sit in the school's gymnasium and miss the entirety of their first period class.  While...
Location: Ward 7, Washington, D.C.
Dates Of Project: 1/2012 - 6/2012
Partner: American history class
Are schools welcoming environments for D.C. youth? Our students at H.D. Woodson SHS are in the midst of their campaign to implement restorative justice at their school. They’re working with teachers in the school who are committed to ending school push-out at Woodson. Our students have shared stories about how out-of-school suspensions significantly impact their learning and alienate them from...
Location: Ward 1, Washington, D.C.
Issue: Language access
Dates Of Project: 1/2012 - 6/2012
Partner: Many Languages One Voice (MLOV)
Critical Exposure is partnering with Many Languages One Voice (MLOV), a non-profit organization in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of D.C. that is focused on improving language access rights for English Language Learners. Our MLOV youth will be working on two projects this semester: the first is to conduct interviews and photograph the stories of English language learners. This project will be...
Location: Columbia Heights, Washington, D.C.
Issue: Challenges for young women in D.C.
Dates Of Project: 06/11 - 08/11
Partner: D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities
During the summer of 2011, Critical Exposure worked with a group of ten young women in the D.C. Commission on Arts & Humanities' Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP). Students held a final exhibit in August at the Department of Employment Services. The youth wrote the following introduction to frame their exhibit, encouraging members of the D.C. arts and employment sectors to think...
Location: Washington, D.C.
Issue: Documenting the unique roles and responsibilites of Higher Achievement scholars.
Dates Of Project: 02/2011 - 05/2011
Partner: Higher Achievment Program
This Spring, Critical Exposure worked with a group of 10 middle-school scholars at the Ward 1 Higher Achievment Program center.  The scholars engaged with their unique artistic perspectives around what it means to be a HAP scholar.  We explored the schedule of their time at HAP, such as time spent with mentors and time alloted for them to "just be kids" and play in the park.  We...
Location: 300 Bryant St. NW
Dates Of Project:
Do students who arrive late to school not care about their education? Our fall students at D.C. Met launched a campaign to change the school’s attendance policy. The policy stated that students who arrived late to their 1st period class would be marked absent for the entire school day. Students documented their journeys to school beginning in Southeast D.C. and ending at the school in Northwest....
Location: Thurgood Marshall Center
Dates Of Project:
Are resources and programming equitably distributed across D.C. schools? Our second class of Youth Interns, a new group of nine students representing seven different schools, wanted to answer this question. They started by mapping their communities identifying where there were challenges and where there were strengths. Most recently, the Youth Interns’ photos were featured in the All City Youth...
Location: Thurgood Marshall Center
Issue: Equitable Resources and Programming
Dates Of Project:
Are resources and programming equitably distributed across D.C. schools? Our second class of Youth Interns, a new group of nine students representing seven different schools, wanted to answer this question. They started by mapping their communities identifying where there were challenges and where there were strengths. Most recently, the Youth Interns’ photos were featured in the All City Youth...