summer lab pg banner.jpg


The Identity Project Summer Arts Lab is designed to cultivate educational empowerment and illuminate the voices of underserved high school age youth. Our programs typically run 5 days a week (M-F) for 6-8 weeks between June and August. They are fully funded, and free to attend for all students. In recent years we have worked closely with LEAs to acquire accreditation for our programs, and are currently working to establish our Summer Lab as a dual credit 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



“Alesandra Zsiba conducted The Identity Project with our high-need students in Washington, DC. For a population of students who have experienced a high degree of trauma and loss in their short lives, The Identity Project provided them with a way to see themselves positively and literally through a different lens. Alesandra expertly guided the students to build their confidence, and she wove in literacy themes as students explored their self worth and individuality through poetry and photography. In our final showcase of each student's work, the auditorium erupted in smiles and cheers from students and parents alike as each student's portrait appeared. The students walked out of The Identity Project experience with their heads held higher and their backs a little straighter than when they began thanks to the careful development of the curriculum and the thoughtful and skillful implementation by Alesandra Zsiba."

Ashley Johnson
Co-Executive Director
The Literacy Lab