Critical Exposure, Inc.

Washington, DC   |  http://www.criticalexposure.org

Mission

Critical Exposure trains DC youth to harness the power of photography and their own voices to fight for education equity and social justice. Since 2004, Critical Exposure has provided experiential leadership and learning opportunities to more than 2,800 youth of color in DC. Today, our goals remain consistent with our initial vision: (1) teach youth of color to drive change by building their skills, knowledge, and confidence in youth organizing and photography; (2) develop the capacities of youth of color to shape narratives about them; and (3) drive concrete changes in school environments by supporting youth-led campaigns that work towards education equity and close the opportunity gap.

Ruling year info

2008

Executive Director

Nicole Newman

Main address

1816 12th Street NW Third Floor

Washington, DC 20009 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

26-2829875

NTEE code info

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Civil Rights, Advocacy for Specific Groups (R20)

Visual Arts Organizations (A40)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Critical Exposure believes that youth of color should have the opportunity to address the policies and practices that maintain educational inequity, such as "school pushout," or the over-reliance on police and other school policies and practices that either directly expel students from school or create conditions that are not conducive to keeping students engaged and attending school. While youth of color are often discussed, analyzed, and critiqued, they are rarely asked to contribute to the conversations about the policies that directly impact the quality of education they receive. Critical Exposure shifts this dynamic by training historically marginalized youth to become civic leaders equipped with the skills to hold their schools and communities accountable for providing them with equitable opportunities. Through their photography and writing, Critical Exposure youth seek to change the dominant negative narrative about them and their communities.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Fellowship Program

Fellowship is a yearlong, citywide program that attracts young people who attend a number of DC high schools, with youth frequently returning for a second or even third year. During Fellowship, CE staff work intensively with youth to run a collective, youth-led, citywide campaign aimed at securing the implementation of a positive solution to an issue they select. Fellows are also introduced to historical examples of organizing projects led by youth in DC and analyze the way the mainstream media portrays youth of color to create new “counter narratives” that more accurately represent their own experiences. As youth develop advanced-level skills in photography and organizing, CE youth work collectively to identify an issue they want to address through their campaign and develop a strategy for implementation. Youth discuss the forms of oppression that impact their lives and create photo-stories that generate discussion around these topics. Youth learn about the people and institutions in DC that have the power to set policies that directly impact their lives, as well as community organizing strategies to ensure their voices are an important part of the conversation. They then meet with various stakeholders to share their research and photo-stories as part of their efforts to garner support for their campaigns.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

Stories for Action is a 12-week introductory program for youth to use photography to document issues directly impacting their lives, create counter narratives that more accurately represent their experiences, and explore the intersection of photography and social justice movements. Youth learn photography techniques to explore different genres of photography, analyze the stories that images tell, deconstruct dominant narratives found in the media, and surface the different forms of oppression that impact their lives. Participants create photo-stories related to their personal experiences and learn how to write captions to explain the meaning of their photography. Through both caption-writing and photography, youth shape the narratives about themselves and their communities. CE staff facilitate constructive group critiques of youth photos that provide feedback on ways to improve their work. Participants have the opportunity to display their work, in virtual or in-person exhibitions.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents
Multiracial people
People of African descent
People of Latin American descent
At-risk youth

Our In-School Programs are implemented with the active support of principals, either in partnership with classroom teachers, during lunch, or after school. These models provide different benefits: the classroom-based programs allow CE to reach youth who cannot participate in afterschool activities, while our increased focus on the lunch and afterschool times provides flexibility beyond the parameters of a particular class. Youth learn about the history of photography and youth-led social change, how to document their lives and write powerful captions, how to identify specific challenges that impact their education, and how to work collectively to find a solution.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

Through our Summer Youth Facilitator Institute (SYFI), CE hires 6-8 youth/alumni and trains them as facilitators. With support and mentorship from CE staff, these youth then co-lead and document our summer program for their peers at two to three program sites throughout DC. During these programs, youth develop strong creativity, resiliency, and leadership skills as they learn how to take photographs and write powerful captions documenting their lives. SYFI's peer-to-peer learning provides one of the highest rungs of CE's youth leadership ladder as it elevates youth from being participants to facilitators, supporting their long-term personal and professional development.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents

Where we work

Awards

One of the Best Small Nonprofits in DC 2010

Catalogue for Philanthropy

Impact Award Finalist 2010

Lehrman Foundation

One of the Best Small Nonprofits in DC 2014

Catalogue for Philanthropy - DC Metropolitan Area

Finalist 2012

National Arts and Humanites Youth Program Awards

Finalist 2013

National Arts and Humanites Youth Program Awards

Finalist 2016

National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards

Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education 2013

DC Mayor's Arts Awards

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Founded in 2004, Critical Exposure addresses the striking racial and socioeconomic inequities in education. Critical Exposure's co-founders recognized that as a society, people had tacitly accepted the reality that youth in low-income communities had limited access to educational opportunities and resources, relative to those in wealthy communities. CE envisions a world where historically marginalized youth become leaders equipped with the skills to make their schools and the world around them more equitable and more responsive to their needs. Both founders shared a passion for photography and chose visual storytelling as a key tool for engaging youth.

Since 2004, Critical Exposure has provided experiential leadership and learning opportunities to more than 2,600 youth of color in DC. Today, our goals remain consistent with our initial vision: (1) teach youth of color to be change agents by building their skills, knowledge, and confidence in youth organizing and photography; (2) develop the capacities of youth of color to shape narratives about them; and (3) drive concrete changes in school environments by supporting youth-led campaigns that work towards education equity and close the opportunity gap.

Critical Exposure engages more than 140 DC youth each year in a continuum of arts education, youth development, and youth organizing activities that develop their identity, creativity, and civic leadership/organizing skills. Our continuum of programs include the following:

Our In-School Programs are implemented with the active support of principals, either in partnership with classroom teachers, during lunch, or after school. These models provide different benefits: the classroom-based programs allow CE to reach youth who cannot participate in afterschool activities, while our increased focus on the lunch and afterschool times provides flexibility beyond the parameters of a particular class. Youth learn about the history of photography and youth-led social change, how to document their lives and write powerful captions, how to identify a specific challenge that is impacting their education, and how to work collectively to find a solution.

Our Youth Internship is an introductory, 12-week afterschool program for DC youth of color who are interested in using photography to document issues directly impacting their lives and to create counter-narratives that more accurately represent their own experiences. This program facilitates positive identity development by encouraging youth to reflect on their individual experiences and to identify commonalities. These discoveries serve as a necessary foundation for youth of color to change the dominant narrative told about them. The Internship’s curriculum also includes the most technical photography skills. This program prepares youth to join our Fellowship Program.

The Fellowship is an advanced-level, year-long program heavily focused on youth organizing and empowerment, with youth frequently returning for up to three additional years. During the Fellowship, CE staff works intensively with youth to apply their learning through a collective, youth-led, citywide campaign aimed at securing the implementation of a positive solution to an issue they select. Fellows’ most recent campaign focused on the need for DC public schools to expand access to financial literacy training to be consistent with the graduation requirements of most other states and to mitigate the racial wealth gap.

Our Summer Programs are taught by youth from CE's Fellowship Program or alumni who CE hires and trains as facilitators through our comprehensive Summer Youth Facilitator Institute. This peer-to-peer learning is one of the highest rungs of our youth leadership ladder as it elevates youth from being participants to facilitators, supporting their long-term personal and professional development.

Critical Exposure staff and volunteers play an integral role in fulfilling our mission, working closely with youth to help them develop their artistic skills and enhance their leadership capacity. All programs are facilitated by experienced Critical Exposure staff with backgrounds in youth development, photography, and organizing.

Critical Exposure partners with DC public and public charter high schools and other youth-serving organizations and forges strong community alliances to engage youth, provide forums for their voices to be heard, and build collective power. We greatly value opportunities to collaborate with peer organizations to become a stronger, more impactful organization.

To diversify and enrich our workshops and activities, we work with organizations like the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Women Photojournalists of Washington, and Click DC/Focus on the Story. These partnerships introduce youth to the work of documentary photographers and the issues they cover. We also partner with organizations like Exposed DC and Click DC to host exhibits across DC for youth to showcase their photos and writing.

In recent years, Critical Exposure has worked to cultivate strategic partnerships with organizations like the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA) and Mikva Challenge, with whom we partnered during the 2017-18 school year to co-host a youth-led mayoral forum: pooling our complementary resources, skills, and expertise to enable CE youth to build their power and position themselves to play a larger, more visible role in city politics.

In 2019, Critical Exposure became a founding member organization of a youth-of-color-led coalition called United Leaders 4 Freedom as well as joined the DC Girls Coalition. These coalitions provide youth with platforms to build collective power that impacts systemic change in their schools and communities.

Since 2004, Critical Exposure has provided experiential leadership and learning opportunities to more than 2,600 youth of color in DC.

Because of our work during the 2018-2019 school year,
• 100% of youth in our programs expressed confidence using a digital camera.
• 81% expressed confidence using different techniques to compose a photograph
• 92% of youth expressed confidence taking a photograph that tells a story
• 96% of youth understand how power and decision-making works within the school system
• 92% of youth understand how to make change within the school system.
• 100% of youth believe photography is a tool that can be used to support change in a school or community.

Past youth campaigns have helped to secure commitments to:
• Increase training and accountability for school security guards.
• Pilot the use of restorative justice programs in DC Public Schools.
• Provide funding for a new school library.
• Establish a new ethnic studies class.

Other recent accomplishments include:
• Amir, a recent Critical Exposure graduate, went to Baltimore to photograph the protests and tell the story of what he saw. His photographs and writing were featured in an article on Think Progress, “How Young People of Color are Documenting Injustice One Photo at a Time."
• The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities named Critical Exposure a Youth Program Award Finalist three times, consistently recognizing us as one of the top 50 arts-based programs in the country.
• Critical Exposure has received the DC Mayor's Arts Award for “Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education.”
• Critical Exposure has been selected three times by the Catalogue for Philanthropy as one of DC’s best small nonprofits.

In the coming year, Critical Exposure will refine our work in schools to strengthen structures that directly involve youth of color in the processes of shaping and making decisions at three DC high schools. We will also focus on our work with two youth-led coalitions in Washington, DC, which provide young people with platforms to build collective power that impacts systemic change in their schools and communities. Finally, we have engaged in the Vote16 campaign in DC, which works to extend the right to vote in local elections to young people 16 years and older.

Financials

Critical Exposure, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Critical Exposure, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 07/20/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Aimee Peoples

DC Public Schools

Nicole Newman

Critical Exposure

Betty Feng

Be Consulting Group

Anjali Nagpaul

Fair Chance

Aimee Peoples

DC Public Schools

Joseph Pate

Hip Hop Caucus

Jasmine Hicks

Truth Initiative

Olutosin Burrell

Olu Burrell Consulting

Alorie Clark

DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities

Carina Gervacio

FoodCorps

Tyler Grigsby

One Common Unity

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/20/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American/African
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/21/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.