April 7, 2017
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He uses Baltimore’s ‘beautiful ghetto’ to teach kids the art of photography

Get inspired by these three stories of innovation and ingenuity across America

A photo of Baltimore from Devin Allen's new book, "A Beautiful Ghetto." Photo by Devin Allen.

A Beautiful Baltimore: Photographer Devin Allen rose to fame in 2015, when a photo he took at a rally after the death of Freddie Gray made the cover of TIME magazine. It was only the third time in the magazine’s history that it used an amateur’s photo on its cover. Despite receiving a number of job offers across the country, Allen chose to stay in Baltimore. “I don’t want to go to other places. I need to do as much work in Baltimore as I can,” he told Buzzfeed last year. Now, he teaches photography to Baltimore’s youth, using his fame to solicit cameras on social media for his students. His new book, “A Beautiful Ghetto,” a collection of 100 of Allen’s black and white photos of the city, will be published by Haymarket Books in June.

Sharing her knowledge: In 2015, Clarinda Blais, a Boston University student and philosophy major, was volunteering at St. Francis House, a well-known shelter in Boston. She felt that volunteering wasn’t enough to “to bridge what sometimes seems like an insurmountable distance” between the homeless and the more privileged, she told the Washington Post. To deal with that “distance,” Blais founded the Free Philosophy Project, a workshop that brings seminars on philosophy to homeless shelters across Boston; the project has allowed women in the shelters to open up about their experiences: “I get to tell my story. I get to tell my feelings,” Hope Daniels, one of the women at the St. Francis House, told the Washington Post. When Blais graduates in May, she hopes to write a manual to help expand the program outside of Boston.

Birthday gifts: On its eighth birthday, youth literacy nonprofit Reach Incorporated is giving away five $1,000 scholarships to high school students in D.C.’s Ward 8. The students aren’t just ordinary students, though—they’re tutors who have worked with Reach Incorporated to improve literacy among younger students. The nonprofit describes their mission as a chance to “[develop] grade-level readers and capable leaders by preparing teens to serve as tutors and role models for younger students, resulting in improved literacy outcomes for both.”

Mikhail Klimentov

Mikhail Klimentov is a contributor to The Renewal Project