First, capture your world; then, change it. That is the guiding principle of Critical Exposure, which empowers underserved DC youth through photography, writing, and advocacy. In a series of workshops, 130 students learn the fundamentals of digital photography: composition, framing, lighting, and perspective. Then they put their training to work, using cameras and the written word to document the issues that matter most to them: youth unemployment, the school-to-prison pipeline, teen pregnancy, and the lack of nutritious food in schools. Public exhibits inform and engage the community as do meetings with legislators, public hearings, and press conferences. Engaging youth in the policy-making process not only teaches civic engagement and leadership, but also forges connections between those who make policy and those who profoundly feel its day-to-day effects. Visits from professional photographers also encourage students to see photography as a career – and a life-long outlet for self-expression. The union between art and advocacy creates a sense of empowerment that is otherwise in very short supply for these kids. You can be part of the picture.

Headquarters: DC-Ward 1

Where They Operate: DC-Ward 1; DC-Ward 4; DC-Ward 5; DC-Ward 6; DC-Ward 7; DC-Ward 8

Age Groups Served: Youth (5-11); Pre-teen/teen (12-17); Young adult (18-24)

Ethnic Groups Served: African American; Latino/Hispanic

Population(s) Served: Low- to Moderate-Income Community Members; Men/Boys; Women/Girls; Students; Low- to Moderate-Income

Schools They Work In: Cardozo Senior High School; Anacostia Senior High School ; Next Step Public Charter School ; Washington Metropolitan High School; Luke C. Moore Academy

Awards & Recognition

Catalogue for Philanthropy 2009-2010 and 2013-2014
Winner of the 2013 Mayor's Arts Award for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education
Featured by BBC News and Huffington Post in 2015
Washington Post front page in 2013
Lehrman Impact Award Finalist 2010
Finalist for PhotoPhilanthropy Activist Awards 2010
Recognized as one of the Top-Rated Nonprofits in Education by GreatNonprofits 2010
Featured in the National Youth Employment Coalition’s report, Building Roads to Success: Key Considerations for Communities and States Reconnecting Youth to Education
Winner, GlobalGiving U.S. Open Challenge 2009
Grand Prize Winner, Ben & Jerry's "It's a Flipped Out World"


Budget (FY2012)

  • $3 million or higher
  • $1 million to $3 million
  • The current budget for Critical Exposure is: $500k to $1 million
  • Less than $500k

Catalogue charities range in size from $100,000 to $3 million. This graphic indicates the budget range of the organization featured here. If you see an organizational budget above the $3 million mark, that is because the featured charity has grown in size since it first appeared in the Catalogue. We proudly present on our website the work of these "growth" charities.

About the Catalogue for Philanthropy

Each year 120 expert reviewers evaluate applicants for distinction, merit, and impact. Each featured charity has been successfully site visited and its financials given the thumbs up. The Catalogue for Philanthropy charges no fees and raises funds separately to support its work. Since 2003, it has raised over $34 million for charities across the Greater Washington region.

The Catalogue for Philanthropy looks to friends like you to keep our services independent and entirely free of charge. Consider a small contribution to the Catalogue to cap off your gift and help the causes you care about get the full support they deserve!

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