The Identity Project is an innovative program that utilizes documentary arts to address poverty-related barriers to identity development in underserved youth. At the heart of this work lies the belief that in order to walk out into the world and create something of value, a young person must first value who it is they are. Through a specialized curriculum in documentary storytelling and performance, The Identity Project empowers marginalized young people with an invaluable opportunity for self-actualization, improving readiness to learn on the most fundamental level.
Grounded in a pedagogical framework that is, at it’s core, an asset pedagogy, The Identity Project is built on two innovative pillars of inquiry, documentary storytelling and critically reflective identity work. Over the course of an implementation, The Identity Project guides students through three learning phases in documentary arts -- including poetry, photography and performance -- in order to explore and enrich students’ sense of voice, narrative, and identity, and ultimately deepen their feelings of self-worth and educational empowerment. The program culminates in three outputs: a student published book of poetry, an interdisciplinary performance piece, and a series of multi-media portrait projects. These unique program outputs showcase students’ newly acquired documentary storytelling skills and celebrate their mastery of critical of 21st century competencies, ranging from creative problem solving and collaborative investigation, to a growth mindset and social emotional learning. Students also develop core cognitive skills, that enable them to heal through the expression of personal narrative and begin the invaluable process of learning to value themselves.