The Identity Project is an innovative educational intervention that utilizes documentary arts to address poverty-related barriers to identity development and learning in underserved youth. At its core, The Identity Project offers young people an invitation Home to themselves, an opportunity to create an artistic home within their bodies, celebrate the seat of their originality and their personal power of voice. Through a specialized curriculum in documentary storytelling and performance, The Identity Project empowers marginalized youth with an invaluable opportunity for self-actualization, improving readiness to learn on the most fundamental level. Throughout the course of the program students build skills in documentary storytelling and acquire essential 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.



Activating Readiness to Learn

The Identity Project takes a deeply creative approach to addressing the challenge of readiness to learn in underserved youth. Amidst the multitude of strong education reform models, few recognize that a student’s readiness to learn must change before meaningful academic success is possible. Even fewer are grounded in an emergent theory of education and fewer still engage the arts as a catalyst for holistic, student-centered change. The Identity Project is unique in that it incorporates all three of these powerful reform strategies. In essence, our model offers a profound educational reframe. As educators, instead of asking, “is this student smart?” we are asking, “is this student ready to learn?” This shift initiates a positive ripple effect, beginning in the body of the student and spiraling outward into the students home, friend, and school communities.

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Emergent Theory of Education

Grounded in an emergent theory of education, our model is constantly iterating in response to the needs of communities it serves, the personal assets of the core team, and emerging evidence-based practices in education. For example, The Identity Project’s pedagogical framework and curriculum are deeply illustrative of this emergent theory of education. These foundational documents are considered “living documents,” continually growing and changing in response to emerging evidence-based practices in education including culturally responsive teaching, creative youth development, the science of learning and development, and mindfulness-based practices.

Arts as Catalyst for Change

The Identity Project invites young people to explore their personal power of voice through a transformative curriculum in documentary storytelling and performance. Over the course of an implementation, students are guided through learning phases in documentary arts including poetry, photography and performance. We believe documentary arts combine the act of creation with a motivation to tell truths and reveal honest realities. Once immersed in our program, Identity Project students quickly discover that they themselves have the inner-capacities for self-healing and self-advocacy that they crave. For underserved youth, these realizations are exacting and seminal, and for Identity Project students they are the foundation for serious creative and critical inquiry. Students emerge from our program equipped with a newfound capacity to employ empathy, value humanness, and honor the inherent narrative in each of us.

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