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As of July 2022, Photo Start was granted Special Consultative Status within the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN). ECOSOC awards Special Consultative Status to non-profit organizations that are experts in their respective fields and whose programs align with the aims and purpose of the United Nations.

In 2015, the UN established 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet, and improving the lives of people everywhere. Photo Start is committed to doing its part to help achieve these goals through its global impact.

Who we are
We work in African communities experiencing extreme poverty. By teaching students standard professional and people skills, we give them a fair shot at a variety of income opportunities.
From handwashing to photo walks to storytelling lessons, our programs support physical, mental, and emotional health. Parents have reported an increase in their child’s self-esteem and self-confidence.
We are a STEAM heavyweight! Science of light and lenses. Technology of processing and sharing images. Art of composition and storytelling. And even Math for calculating exposure and making budgets.
We believe in Girl Power. Our Partner Akili Dada is an award-winning organization nurturing education and leadership in African girls. In 2020 we also teamed with the Girls Advocacy and Leadership Series from Women’s Campaign International in Philadelphia.
We go beyond teaching the art and science of photography; our students also learn the business, from communications to project and data management. By graduation, they are ready to grow!
In addition to hard skills, our students learn to find their voice and use it. Fighting economic, racial, and gender inequalities requires confidence and persuasive storytelling, whether in vocal or visual forms.
Through storytelling, we are helping young people become solid citizens and strong leaders of tomorrow. Teaching them to mentor peers and siblings extends impact to their home life and their communities.
SDG’s success depends on strong global partnerships and collaboration. We work closely with Partners who share our values and operate in the communities we want to impact.


Our organization is unwaveringly dedicated to achieving success and effecting positive change through our programs. To ensure that we deliver on this commitment, we recognize the significance of continuous improvement. Our team remains vigilant in monitoring all our programs, both during and after implementation, to ensure their effectiveness. We employ participatory methods to collect data from the field, and through its analysis, we not only demonstrate how funding is being utilized but also identify areas for improvement. By making necessary adjustments, we increase our impact.

Our curricula incorporate a robust evaluation process to measure the success of our programs in achieving educational, technical, and emotional/life skills objectives.

Our Objectives and Outcomes

Our goal is to cultivate a generation of socially aware, skilled, and confident youth who can create positive change within their communities. To achieve this, our program focuses on the following objectives and outcomes:

Student Stories

Through Photo Start’s programs and exposure, students have gained access to an incredible network of experts, mentors, professionals, and businesses. Photo Start opens the door to new opportunities for our students.

Who we are

% increase in digital literacy


% increase in student capabilities of self-awareness, social awareness, and leadership


% increase in the understanding of storytelling and content creation


% increase in entrepreneurial skills


We partner with qualified local organizations around the globe who implement our multilevel curriculum.

Our programs are customized according to specific partner requirements.

I3 Impacto Social – La Paz, Bolivia

In Spring 2022, Photo Start was approached by a well-regarded Bolivian organization to take on six interns for various purposes. The interns were assigned to establish Photo Start Bolivia by identifying potential partner organizations in their country to run our programs.

The interns identified two organizations in La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia, that were extremely qualified and well-suited for partnership. This year we are thrilled to work again with i3 Impacto Social (La Paz, Bolivia), implementing our Photo Start Visual Storytelling & Self-Expression Course.

We aim to teach and prepare 20 students to become Peer Trainers and, eventually, Photo Start instructors who will help run the program annually with other cohorts.

About i3 Impacto Social: i3 Impacto is a social company that advises, promotes, and invests in innovative ventures to improve the quality of life of socio-economically disadvantaged communities. The organization seeks to optimize the social impact in implementing projects with a multiplying effect and with self-sustaining management models. Consulting services focus on the development of social strategies, investment with impact, the relationship with stakeholders, and the administration of social projects.

Simama – Nairobi, Kenya

In 2022, our 16-week photography classes at Simama CBO offered a comprehensive learning experience for individuals interested in developing their skills in the field. During the course, four of our trainees were able to secure regular paying gigs, demonstrating the practical skills and knowledge they gained. We also invited professionals to host masterclasses and offered some students internships to enhance their learning experience further. Additionally, we had top-performing graduates teach kids and teens photography at a month-long holiday camp held at Simama.

Our training has proven to be valuable not only to the individuals who participated but also to the community-based organizations in the area that have offered employment opportunities to our trainees due to their newly acquired photography, storytelling, and content creation skills.

Our partnership with Simama continues with two new cohorts in 2023. The first cohort comprises young female football players who use photography to document and share their journey as female footballers (in a male-dominated sport) while imparting other marketable and transferable skills that they can use on and off the field.

About Simama CBO: Simama CBO is a non-profit, grassroots organization that uses sports to impart social and economic skills and promote peace, education, development, inclusion, better governance, and accountability among the youth of Kariobangi Slum, Nairobi. The mission is to use sports to empower the holistic development.

Kibra Films and Creative Hub – Nairobi, Kenya

We welcome our new program partner, Kibra Film and Creative Hub. In 2019, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kibra Film and Creative Hub was born to protect youth in the Kibra community from engaging in social vices by nurturing independent creatives in photography, film, and music who will tell Kibra’s story with dignity. Despite the challenges faced by the community, Kibra has many positive stories that rarely see the light of day. The Kibra Film and Creative Hub aim to change this by empowering young people with photography, filmmaking, and acting skills, eradicating the dependency syndrome in the community. The Kibra Film and Creative Hub operate from Mchanganyiko Hall in Karanja estate, Kibera.

Photo Start’s visual storytelling curriculum is a critical part of Kibra Film and Creative Hub to tell Kibra’s story with dignity. The Photo Start program has students aged 18-25 and aims to create a group of independent and creative photographers who will value their work and earn a living from their skills. The Kibra Film and Creative Hub see the Photo Start program as a way to increase the number of creative women street photographers from Kibra and link students with opportunities in the industry. By doing so, the Kibra Film and Creative Hub promotes creative expression and creates economic opportunities for young people in the community.

Art and storytelling are powerful tools for social transformation, and the Kibra Film and Creative Hub recognizes this. By empowering young people with photography, filmmaking, and acting skills, the organization is promoting creativity and enabling economic growth. The organization’s positive impact is already being felt in the community, and with continued support, the Kibra Film and Creative Hub will undoubtedly change many lives.

About Kibra Film and Creative Hub: Kibra Film and Creative Hub was born to protect youth in the Kibra community from engaging in social vices. The organization’s vision is to use art as a tool for social transformation. Its mission is to nurture independent creatives in photography, film, and music who will tell Kibra’s story and the challenges youth face in the community from a positive perspective.

Kids Rank – Chicago, IL

In the Fall of 2021, Photo Start and Kids Rank joined forces in a partnership to empower military children. The first cohort, consisting of students aged 12-15, embarked on the program in Winter 2021 and continued through Spring 2022. By providing structured classes and independent photography sessions, Photo Start leveraged the power of visual storytelling to help students navigate the challenges and disruptions of military life. The curriculum equipped the students with essential social and life skills while enhancing their academic proficiency in digital literacy, visual thinking, and digital media. Furthermore, the students had the opportunity to document various military-connected events and actively participate as community members, developing marketable skills and boosting their confidence as leaders.

Throughout the year, the students honed their photography skills by “going on assignment” to various events, including the Pritzker Military Museum and Library Event, the Bring Your Own Veteran Dinner (BYOV), and the Deason and Gonzalez Collections. Their collections were also showcased at the 2022 Kids Rank Ball, which drew a crowd of 250 attendees.

The second cohort, which kicked off on February 3rd, 2023, will leverage the skills acquired through the Photo Start curriculum to drive their entrepreneurial endeavors. The students will utilize their photography expertise to capture compelling images that tell the story of their company and its members, document the production process, and create powerful marketing materials.

About Kids Rank: Kids Rank is a 501c(3) service-based organization developed specifically for military children. Through membership opportunities, Kids Rank engages military-connected children and youth in hands-on, skill-building projects and volunteer opportunities designed to encourage resilience through our core pillars of CONNECT, LEAD, and SERVE. Our military children serve their communities just as their parents serve (or have served) our country. The program is open to school-aged military-connected children from all branches of service, including active duty, reservists, retirees, veterans, and Families of the Fallen.

Student Work

Photo Start has hosted various applied learning exhibitions, which have led to positive exposure and opportunities for our students. Our students have been hired to photograph weddings and local events, their work has won awards and top honors at different photography competitions. Their photos have also been seen on television and featured in print and international media outlets such as The New York Times, Independent UK, and Huffington Post. More importantly, our programs have increased students’ ability to see themselves as positive members of their local and global communities.

Our Blog

Our blog serves as a setting for communicating with our community and supporters as well as promoting our mission and impact. Here, you’ll discover a selection of thought-provoking and motivational blogs that showcase the various ways in which we try to change the world for the better.


Allow us to share a collection of featured Photo Start media articles with you.

Our work has been featured and celebrated by a variety of publications and here you can explore a selection of these articles and learn more about our impact.

Take Action

Your company can contribute to lasting change with an investment in Photo Start. We have fully customizable opportunities to provide education, experiences, equipment, and exhibitions.

Partner with us

“I learned to be detailed with the little things and to see the world from another perspective.”

-Nadir Belén Choque Barbito, i3 Impacto Social, Bolivia


Our curricula incorporate a robust evaluation process to measure the success of our programs in achieving educational, technical, and emotional/life skills objectives.

We employ a combination of quantitative and qualitative data, including pre and post-course surveys, interviews, and student assessments, to measure impact.

In collaboration with our local partners, we collect a number of quantifiable data points which track the following:

# students graduating
# peer instructors completing the program
# applied learning experiences completed
# virtual exhibitions held

Post-program feedback from our partner organizations is invaluable in identifying when projects aren’t functioning as intended and learning how to make them more successful. We frequently check on our work in the field to ensure that we’re making progress toward our goals. Our 2022 pre and post-course surveys of students who participated in our programs show a significant impact on their educational, technical, and emotional/life skills development. Our collected qualitative data comprises a wide variety of youth from different parts of the world, each with their distinct experiences and backgrounds.

  1. Provide digital photography training, including technical skills like camera operation, composition, and lighting.
  • Understand camera parts and how to set up a camera/mobile phone for photography.
  • Learn about the power of images and what makes a good photo, including subject, light, and composition.
  • Integrate composition and framing techniques such as orientation, perspective, depth, negative space, and simplicity.
  • Distinguish the differences between color and black-and-white photos and learn about color theory.
  • Understand lighting and exposure, including learning to use reflectors, diffusers, and artificial lighting techniques.
  • Develop increased employability and digital fluency skills.


  1. Develop visual literacy skills, including the ability to interpret and analyse visual information and effectively use visual elements to communicate ideas and emotions and teach visual storytelling techniques to help participants tell stories visually through photography.
    • Learn about storytelling through subject matter such as portrait photography, street photography, and emotion and language.
    • Learn post-processing and editing techniques, both basic and advanced.
    • Understand ethics in photography such as copyright, model releases, privacy, and social and cultural sensitivities.
    • Improve writing skills.
    • Increase ability to read, interpret, and communicate through visual media, enhancing creativity and critical thinking.
    • Learn to communicate emotions and experiences through visual media, improving self-awareness, self-esteem, and self-expression, as well as fostering personal fulfilment and well-being.


  1. Promote personal development by building confidence, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence through creative expression.
  • Enhanced comprehension of emotions, personal narratives, and the meaningful messages conveyed through photographs
    • Build emotional resilience, enhancing the ability to cope with challenges and adversity in life.
    • Develop a sense of purpose and direction, increasing motivation and drive to achieve goals.
    • Improve empathy and communication skills, promoting collaborative work and positive relationships with others.


  1. Foster interpersonal development by promoting communication skills, collaboration, problem-solving, and empathy.
    • Increase confidence and resilience, leading to better navigation of challenges and more effective pursuit of goals
    • Increase confidence and resilience, leading to better navigation of challenges and more effective pursuit of goals.
    • Develop conflict resolution skills, leading to better relationships and fewer conflicts with others.


  1. Provide training in content creation, including how to create multimedia content and content for social media platforms.
    • Learn how to create engaging content, including writing captions and descriptions, and using hashtags effectively.
    • Learn how to monetize social media and develop a personal brand or online presence.
    • Learn how to create a digital portfolio and online profile.


  1. Teach entrepreneurial skills such as marketing, branding, and business development to help participants turn their creative skills into viable businesses or careers.
    • Improve entrepreneurial skills such as branding and marketing, sales and negotiation, networking and collaboration, and time and self-management.
    • Promote stress management and wellness, leading to increased mental and physical well-being.
    • Increase ability to motivate and inspire others, leading to more effective leadership and team-building.
    • Improve problem-solving skills for better decision-making and innovative thinking.
    • Gain knowledge of shoot day basics such as concept development, location scouting, equipment and logistics
    • Learn about shot lists in photography i.e. camera angles and composition, lighting and mood, and storyboarding.
  1. Local partner organizations equipped with sustainable solutions that empower student participants to become catalysts for positive change in their communities, leading to stronger and more resilient communities in the long run.
  2. Long-term connections with community organizations in order to guarantee the long-term sustainability of our partnerships. Our collaboration often extends beyond the initial program, with multiple cohorts completing our curriculum over an extended period.
  3. A program cycle that is self-sustaining and replicable. Trained program graduates serving as instructors and community members as volunteers and mentors, allowing the program to continue to run successfully even after direct involvement ends.
  4. The establishment of small businesses and job opportunities for youth in the participating communities. This would have the potential to contribute to the long-term economic growth and self-sufficiency of the community.
  5. Students who are engaged and active members of their communities, using photography as a tool for positive social change.