A NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED YOUTH PHOTOGRAPHY AND MENTORING PROGRAM IN THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA
First Exposures provides youth aged 11-18 the opportunity to engage with photography in a classroom with guidance from a photographer who serves as both a mentor and a positive adult role model. Many of our students have experienced difficult life circumstances and are in the process of stabilizing their lives. Photography is the catalyst by which our students acquire vital life skills and the vehicle through which we deepen their intellectual, academic, and developmental experiences. While learning to photograph, students are also enhancing their self-confidence, developing their personal vision, and cultivating their passion for learning. Since 2004, over 95% of our students have gone on to pursue a college education. We reinforce our class time with time spent in experiential learning environments: major museums, alternative art spaces, commercial photography studios, etc. The students use their cameras to explore and interpret these places and their lives.
First Exposures classes are located conveniently near BART and many bus lines.
Academic Year Mentorship Program
Since 1993 each First Exposures student is matched one-to-one with a photographer who provides individualized guidance and serves as a volunteer mentor and positive adult role model. Photography is the catalyst by which our students acquire vital life skills and it is the vehicle through which we deepen their intellectual, academic and developmental experiences. Classes are offered in both traditional and digital photography.
Summer Group Mentoring Program
In the summer of 2014, we introduced our first group-mentoring program offering our services for 30 youth. In comparison to our academic year program, this class operates in small group settings with two mentors and five mentees acting as a team to provide a unique shared experience and more peer-to-peer learning. Using state-of-the-art digital SLR cameras we provide a very similar experience to our regular program in an intensive eight weeks.
Our mentees are creative young people, aged 11-18, with backgrounds that have included homelessness, foster care, or low-income living situations. Our mentees come to us through local schools, after-school programs, and agencies working with youth from all areas in the city and Bay Area, the majority being from the South of Market, Bayview, Tenderloin, Mission, and Western Addition areas.
Our volunteer mentors are professional, commercial, and fine art photographers with a commitment to youth and to education. The mentees 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.
Selina Weiss, Trevor Wilson, and Wilton Wong.
Jara Montez and Shae Rocco
Daniella Basurco Mendieta, Alejandra Miranda, and Mara Marchana