Exposure: Events, Excursions, Expressions

You can't achieve what you don't know is possible

Photo of Sumari Barnes
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Website or social media url(s) (optional):

instagram: @exposure.eee (not yet promoted)

Date Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

My idea for exposure came about in my final weeks living in LA, before moving home to Oakland. I call my neighborhood in LA a Sims World. I nannied for perfect families, walked to yoga, ate most meals at Whole Foods, events &more. I began to ponder on how I can bring this sense of community &experiences to my home. So, I came up with Exposure, a program that aims to advance our communities through programming events, education opportunity, &traveling, created &ran only by natives of the city. The travel aspect of the program was inspired by the effect traveling to Kenya at 15 had on my life. It showed me just how much of the world was out there to explore &how hard I had to work to give it to myself. It inspired me to take more risks overall. I went to Kenya with my school &have continued to use education to see the world. 20 countries later, I want to share with this power with others.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Throwing charter schools&STEM programs in the hood, will not make much change without changing circumstances outside of school. The violence&chaos in disadvantaged cities is far more detrimental than poor education because it affects the mind&ability to imagine anything else. You can't aspire to be things you don't know exist or go places that seem unattainable until you do. With experience &exposure, the impossible suddenly becomes possible.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Exposure is a brand. We'll host events, go on excursions, and post expressions, with the goal of opening people’s minds to new opportunities. We have an events team that aims to change the communities they serve by providing fun parties for youth &adults to establish a fun relationship &educational/constructive events as well. All the while, changing the lives of the program participants by giving them mentorship, professional counseling and &international trip. We are paying them in something people can’t take away, experience, and exposure. The best part about college and what created the community was programming. With too much free time students often are unproductive, drink and/or do drugs. The same is true for innercities, with too much free time people get into trouble, but the proximity of the kind of trouble available is more detrimental than a college campus. I hope that by providing more new experiences and a new platform for expression the natives of Oakland can change the city together. This isn’t a stop the violence campaign. Hurt people hurt people, so it’s a campaign to open our minds, give us a reason to live, and we will want to stop the violence ourselves.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

My years interning as a youth attorney and my international service were two of the most impressive aspects of my college application. With Exposure I can give students 2 similar experiences to boost their aspirations while making them stronger college applicants. Participants of the program will receive a mentor, 1 local excursion per month, and an internship experience. They’ll foster skills such as event planning, sales, design(graphic+fashion), and more. The team will take an international trip every summer to expose them to what the large world has to offer. The community as a whole will also benefit from Exposure because all events will address various communities’ needs and created along with its members and they will be invited on many local excursions. The community will also be able to use expressions platform of Exposure to share related art, stories, and photos.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Exposure aims to combine the goals of nonprofits and social/lifestyle brands. There are currently many nonprofits that aim to better Oakland, but they are failing because the employees are typically outsiders that cannot connect. Americans Promoting Study Abroad has the same idea as far as the impact that traveling has on inner-city youth and sponsors travel, but ignores the larger issues back at home. With my Oakland roots and network, I can bridge this gap. Activism does not have to look like marching in the streets. It can be establishing a strong community, fun and informative.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

I have not yet launched my project because I want to be sure that I have proper support and a clear mission before going public. This summer I will be going on a trip to South Africa with some high school students. This trip will serve as research and experience before launching my own program. The retention of Exposure participants from the start date to the trip will measure our success. I’ll know if I’m making a difference by growing a strong number of supporters that come to events on a consistent basis. I’ll also know by increasing sales and sponsorships every year to take a larger group. I will measure my success by community’s feedback after events and response to the expressions. The greatest success of them all will be measured by seeing the great things my participants go on to do and the inspiration we may have brought.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

My first goal for Exposure is to have a sample of the hats made before traveling to South Africa to take promotional pictures. Next, I will host a launch/fundraising party in early October. This event will be a precursor for the kinds of events Exposure will host throughout the year. Following the success of the Oakland branch, Exposure aims to host pop-up shops across the country where we can spread our mission and eventually inspire leaders to start their own branch of exposure in their local communities. While I would like to help cities everywhere, it is important that there are trusted leaders willing to run the program. Being a known member of the community you serve is our main goal.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

I have close ties with the Oakland Unified School District Administration &I’ll use those connections to recruit students to participate &gain parent involvement. I have an assistant that will be a high school senior to help with recruitment. I will add additional members as needed, but mentors and participants will be the bulk of the help. I need to find a company to produce my merchandise. Finally, I need a website to post expressions, highlight the excursions, &sell tickets for the events.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

All of Exposure is based on collaboration and working together to make Oakland a better place. My goal is to educate and expose the participants to the many opportunities in the world throughout out the year. So while the main exposure is the international excursion, I also want to expose them to the benefits of living in the Bay Area. Oakland is the next city over from San Francisco, yet I know many children that have never been. The Golden Gate Bridge has 10,000 visitors per year, I did not see it until I was 12 years old. Additionally, I decided to be a lawyer in the seventh grade because I knew that lawyers made a lot of money and that is what I wanted to do. My sister wants to be a doctor because they make a lot of money. While both of these are great careers we chose these based on finances and they were the only jobs we knew were guaranteed money. As I was exposed to more options in college I realized that there were so many other lucrative job options that I didn’t know existed. I want to change this for others by exposing them to opportunities by partnering with companies in Real Estate Development, sales, tech, business ownership and more.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media


Join the conversation:

Photo of Naomie Pierre-Louis

I love advocacy work as well, you seem passionate about your idea. I would love to see how we can help each other's missions flourish. Also congrats on getting your degree !

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