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2021 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Photo Start

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Children & Youth, Education, Student Services, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Photo Start is an international family of photographers, students, teachers, volunteers, and supporters. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in New York City, we partner with organizations in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and the United States to facilitate in-person and online photography classes with exciting plans to add more partners and more countries in 2021. Photo Start uses photography and video to connect children and young adults with new opportunities for success. We aim to close the digital divide and catalyze students’ economic advancement, creative talents and personal well-being.

Results: Our proven educational model equips our students with essential professional and life skills to improve their chances of employment and escape poverty. Students also gain access to an incredible network of experts, mentors, professionals, teachers and businesses. Photo Start students have received awards, sales, commissions and assignments both in their communities and beyond. Their work has been featured in photo books, exhibitions, on television, and in international media outlets such as The New York Times, Independent UK, and Huffington Post. To date, we've provided more than 27,000 hours of training to 850+ students, and counting!

Target demographics: Children and young adults in under-resourced or marginalized communities.

Direct beneficiaries per year: Last year, 180+ students received valuable professional and life skills through remote classes (and in-person where safe to do so).

Geographic areas served: Kenya, South Africa, Uganda and the United States

Programs: Photography, Videography, Digital Production, and Storytelling Programs

Community Stories

12 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Photo Start has a saying that I love, "Talent is universal. Opportunity is not. We are changing that."They have gone ahead and done exactly that. I have seen youth leaving a life of crime and turning their lives around after going through the program. Little children and teens have had a whole new world open up to them through Photo Start. And they are learning to tell their stories and their communities' stories through the photos they take.Photo Start is making a difference in the lives of children and youth, and that difference is impacting whole communities.


Rating: 5

Photo Start is an amazing organization. You can see the real, and significant, impact they have on the lives of the young people they are able to reach with their programs. The videos of students is proof you can see for yourself. Check some out on Instagram @photostartgo!

Abby L.2

Board Member

Rating: 5

I can unequivocally say that the entire team at Photo Start gives their hearts and souls to this work, to the students, and to this organization.

More to the point, there has already been generational impact created through this programming.

Photo Start students have used their new skills, with support from the PS Family, to overcome enormous hardship. They have developed the skills and confidence to become exceptional leaders and role models to others in their communities.

Recently, some of our students in Nairobi who are former gang-members, invited local police officers to join them in a much-needed trash clean up in their community.

As our students worked together and documented these efforts, the police were so impressed with their skills, demeanor, and leadership, that the police now want their own Photo Start program to share their stories, too!

Photo Start programming helps promote more positive community relations and so much more.

Besides helping former gang members find opportunties, including dignified and legitimate employment, our programs:
Gather students to use their new skills
Encourage them to engage with local challenges
Transform challenges into opportunities
Generate more positive community relationships
Create positive shared outcomes
Help make communities safer and more hospitable to all

Photo Start is now partnering with humanitarian aid organizations to document inspirational work around the world, which offers Photo Start students opportunities to learn, earn, grow and give back to their communities.

We are so proud of this organization, the team, and the amazing work that is generating so much good in the world.


Rating: 5

Worked with David as a translation assistant and the job was well defined and well managed. Volunteering at Photo Start was a privilege. Good luck!


Rating: 5

As a volunteer, I feel like my time and efforts were appreciated. The cause is terrific and the students are amazing. What more can you ask for than an org that does what it says???

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

It’s a pleasure working with this team. How dedicated!

Board Member

Rating: 5

The team and students here are absolutely top notch. What a great cause to be associated with!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Photo Start is genuinely a next-level nonprofit model. Every student they take into their program departs with the tools, abilities, and confidence that they will need to rise up and take on the world. They truly illustrate just how important opportunity and education are to creating self-realizing change for the good in today's world.

Board Member

Rating: 5

This nonprofit is something special. The mission is important and the team is dedicated to working hard to seeing it through. They work across multiple continents and work with some of the most impoverished people on the planet in various slum areas around the world teaching business and life skills to children and helping them towards a brighter future. This nonprofit uses photography as a platform to teach a multitude of life skills that help people at every step in their life from basic English skills to learning how to interact and engage with others. This nonprofit will continue to make generational impact.


Rating: 5

I discovered the amazing work of Photo Start this year through my client, who happens to be one of its founders. I am truly amazed by the passion of everyone in the organization. The heart and dedication of Photo Start showed me that there are still people who are willing to go the distance for a purpose that is bigger than themselves. Truly a changemaker!

Kathryn J.3


Rating: 5

Photo Start is a great organization filled with people who care deeply about teaching underserved children about photography so that they might be able to use these skills to improve their life.



Rating: 5

In my role as an accountant and consultant I have closely studied the operations and performance of several nonprofits. I am intimately involved in reviewing the financials of this organization. I can assure you that David, the founder, and his team run a tight ship and generate the most value possible out of every dollar spent in support of their mission. The amazing energy and dedication of the staff and volunteers is truly inspiring. The impact on the children participating in their programs is clearly visible and long lasting. I encourage all to support Photo Start!