We hope that this letter finds you safe and doing well. 2020 has been a challenging time for everyone. It’s been particularly hard for the young people that First Exposures supports. Many of our Bay Area youth are struggling to adjust to their new worlds. For many of them, everything has changed—home, school, and socializing with friends.
When First Exposures realized how serious COVID-19 was going to be, we immediately understood the impact it would have on young people's lives. We quickly reimagined our program for the virtual world in order to support and nurture the important relationships between our mentors and mentees. Our goal was to help them navigate their new world, providing a safe, community space where they could use photography to creatively express themselves and make sense of the moment.
“I've always felt that First Exposures was a space for safety and community. Though things are different this year, that same sense of safety and community has stayed even through the computer. That’s the reason I continue to come back to FX each year, this is family."
- Ty’ler Banks, Fifth-year mentee, age 18
Our current semester has brought even more opportunities for us to grow. After moving our classes online, we were able to extend our program to include mentees from as far away as Los Angeles and mentors from Washington, D.C., Wisconsin, and New Mexico. And our virtual classes now feature live online Spanish translators from Peru, with all course materials now offered in both English and Spanish.
In the Spring of 2021, we will move into our new permanent home, located in the Mission district of San Francisco. We couldn’t be more excited about having a brand-new place to continue our mission of leveraging the power of mentoring relationships and photography to empower young people to thrive, express themselves creatively, and become leaders in their communities. Our new space—which we’re thrilled to be sharing with fellow youth arts organization Youth Speaks—will feature custom-designed class spaces as well as a darkroom and is adjacent to In Chaan Kajal Park, a beautiful space with an outdoor amphitheater, where we will be able to provide safe and accessible programs critical to rebuilding confidence in public space. Your support will be a huge part of making this happen.
Right now, our mentees’ lives are changing at an alarming rate, and it’s so important that we prepare our young people for the world ahead of them. With compassion, attention, and support, we can help the next generation reach their potential. Our work wouldn’t be possible without the support of community members like you. As we continue to serve our youth in the virtual space while we work to build a new home in the physical world, your support means more than ever. During this holiday season, please consider making the most generous gift you can to help us reach our capital campaign goal for this coming year.
Thank you in advance for your support!
Director, First Exposures