Youth in Focus creates a healthy, positive place where diverse students feel they belong. We intentionally keep our classes small to facilitate maximum student-adult interaction and relationship building. Each class is limited to 11 students with one teaching artist and several adult volunteer mentors. Core classes include three levels of traditional black and white film and two levels of digital photography. Classes meet twice weekly over nine weeks for a total of 60 hours of instruction, plus time spent outside class working on assignments, and we mirror the Seattle Public School calendar.
Excellence Among Youth Programs
Youth in Focus began working with the Raikes Foundation in 2010 to participate in the Youth Program Quality Initiative. Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA) scores for Youth in Focus, in the Spring of 2011 and 2012, were consistently higher than comparison scores for 780 other National Youth programs. Our scores were higher in all main categories, and significantly higher in Supportive Environment and Youth Engagement.
Through our classes youth gain a strong sense of what makes them unique and valuable. Photography provides a valuable medium for youth to develop a sense of their own personal style and explore what is important for themselves and worth communicating through their art. As one student put it so aptly, the most important learning that takes place in a Youth in Focus class is “learning about myself intensely.” Take a moment and see their work in the student gallery.
Youth in Focus has a proven track record in serving at-risk youth with compassion, energy, and vision. Founded in 1994 by retired high school teacher Walter Bodle, we were incorporated as a non-profit in 1997. Since that time, we have grown from a summer class in a borrowed darkroom to an organization offering free classes year- round in a purpose-built photography space. We continue to expand our service through partnerships with other local youth service agencies and by providing advice and encouragement across the country to other groups who seek to emulate our model of youth empowerment through photography.
The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities recognized Youth in Focus as a model program in the year 2000, providing “life-changing activities” to youth with limited opportunities. Our students have shown their work at the Seattle Art Museum, Henry Art Gallery, Frye Art Gallery, Benham Gallery and the Washington State Convention Center, and among other local venues. The prestige of these locations is a testament to both to the quality of the work our students produce, and their passion for the medium.