Refugees from Ukraine wait for a bus to continue their journey after crossing the Polish border at Medyka, Poland, 7 March 2022. Photograph by Maciek Nabrdalik/VII. Maciek teaches at VII Academy and is a contributor to VII Insider.

The VII Foundation is a nonprofit media education organization transforming visual journalism by empowering new voices and creating stories that advocate change. In a world where beliefs and actions are increasingly out-of-sync with facts and realities, transforming visual journalism is an urgent task.

The VII Foundation – pronounced ‘seven’ foundation – was established in 2001 by Gary Knight and Ron Haviv, at the same time that they and five friends founded the VII Photo Agency. The agency was formed to work with the press and the foundation was created to find alternative methods of supporting visual journalism. 

The VII Foundation’s work begins with VII Academy, which provides tuition-free courses in visual education for students from the majority world and underrepresented communities in G20 countries. VII Academy’s practitioners–journalists and experts with decades of international experience and extensive global networks–work with a new generation of diverse students from all walks of life. The academy’s courses deliver rigorous training in journalistic practices, ethical relationships, and visual techniques, with the mentors providing support to equip tomorrow’s visual journalists with the capacity to make compelling stories about complex issues. Many of VII Academy’s courses are online, with in-person teaching and events taking place at our Arles and Sarajevo campuses.

At the heart of The VII Foundation’s mission is the production of long-form projects that put into practice our educational ethos to report complex stories that the traditional media are not covering and ask, “what can be done?”

These projects involve books, exhibitions, films, and educational curricula for a worldwide audience. They include Imagine: Reflections on Peace, showing how we can create more sustainable peace processes in our fractured world by learning from the successes and failures of six post-conflict societies. Or Dispatches in Exile, where we train migrants and refugees in Bosnia to tell the stories of their journeys through a web portal that disseminates their new voices to the world. In our documentary film Eat Up, we ask how the lessons of addressing inadequate school nutrition in inner-city Boston can transform educational outcomes in low-income communities worldwide. The Millennium Villages Project is a book and traveling exhibition installed in a school bus that provides school students in the US with a different vision of Africa. We examine how Jeffrey Sachs reimagines the economies of small communities in Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, and Senegal to eliminate extreme poverty wherever it is located.

The VII Foundation’s approach comes from our conviction that visual journalists immersed in communities can advocate change and impact policy by showing lived experiences, documenting complex problems, and seeking sustainable solutions. Empowering new voices and creating comprehensive projects leads to a broader, more inclusive, evidence-based picture of the world. This broader picture, in turn, fosters a more democratized global conversation that challenges established gatekeepers and disturbs conventional narratives. VII Insider, our free online platform for public debate and discussion – a partnership with PhotoWings and the VII Photo Agency – helps drive this conversation with its live events, provocative articles, and rich video resources, and is building an engaged community of thousands of people around the world committed to transforming visual journalism.

The VII Foundation resides at 429 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036 USA, and is a charitable 501C3 nonprofit entity registered with the Internal Revenue Service. EIN No 510427657.

Poster advertising the "Imagine: Reflctions on Peace" exhibition at the National Museum of Bosnia Herzegovina, Sarajevo, 2022.