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The Identity Project Semester Residency is designed to cultivate educational empowerment and illuminate the voices of underserved high school age youth. Our programs typically run for 12 weeks or one full semester. Upon developing a partnership with a site school, we work closely with school staff and administrators to identify students who would most benefit from our intervention program. Our Semester Residency is essentially an alternative elective class by invitation. Participating students earn an elective credit and a final grade upon completion. Students who successfully complete our Semester Residency are eligible to apply for our Alumni Summer Internship program.

Our model is deeply rooted in creative youth development and built on two 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. Our Semester Residency culminates with a final student showcase in which the following program outputs are highlighted.

  • Performance Piece – Students share an ensemble devised performance piece incorporating elements of spoken word poetry, dance, and theater.

  • Self-published book of poetry – Students work together to self-publish a book of poetry. Students will be responsible for editing content and comprehensive cover-to-cover design/layout.

  • Exhibition of portrait projects – Students work closely with Artist Educators and Master Artists to create multimedia self-portraits incorporating storytelling techniques in narrative writing and documentary photography.

Finally, we make every effort recruit, hire and train Artist Educators who self-identify with the youth communities being served. These individuals are typically local to the area we are serving and are professional artists, experienced educators, or a blend of the two (ie. teaching artists). For more information about bringing The Identity Project to your school or community, please reach out via our contact form HERE


"I have taught in DCPS for the last 14 years, among some extremely talented people. Never before, however, have I been as impressed as I was upon seeing Alesandra Zsiba's work with our students through The Identity Project. The photography projects and poetry writing she facilitated with the children truly capture the essence of each child and, I feel, childhood. After 115 days together I feel like I know my students pretty well. After reading one of my student, Max's words, 'if you tear your shoe you're looking at the universe...' I had a chance to see a side of him he does not show in class." - Nathan Havner, DCPS educator