The VII Foundation

The VII Foundation

The VII Foundation

The VII Foundation’s mission is to transform 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 trains and equips emerging visual journalists from communities underrepresented in the mediaThese practitioners have a front-seat perspective on urgent challenges that concern us all. The VII Foundation teaches essential skills and strategies to ensure the truth is documented and made available to a global audience seeking to make decisions and choices based on facts, not hearsay.  

Our training is tuition-free and conducted by leading professional journalists who have worked for decades on the frontlines of some of our societies’ most complex and difficult challenges. In this era of an underfunded, dying global media enterprise, our trainees help ensure the global conversation continues and is fuelled by first-person reporting vs. unsourced, uncredited rumors and factual manipulation. In addition to empowering over 1,200 new voices in journalism from more than 100 countries, we host public conversations and critical debates that ask tough questions about the context, purpose, and impact of images. We create large-scale and long-term documentary projects, exhibitions, and films that reveal complex realities; advocate for change; and serve as resources for policymakers, the public, and journalists worldwide. 

The VII Foundation consists of VII Photo, acquired in 2023, along with three educational initiatives: VII AcademyVII Community, and VII Insider.


VII is synonymous with courageous and impactful journalism. In 2001, the dawn of the digital era enabled the creation of VII Photo Agency. It drove VII Photo Agency to prominence during the aftermath of 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, and the chaos that followed as the narrative of a new century was being written.

The digital revolution that enabled the photographers to build VII Photo Agency also precipitated an undeniable loss in revenue for their media clients. Anticipating this shift, The VII Foundation was created by Gary Knight and Ron Haviv to innovate and lead in the nonprofit space.

The work of The VII Foundation would not have been possible without the commitment of Jennifer Stengaard Gross and her family. We are grateful for the continuing support of Jennifer, Peter Stengaard, and the William, Jeff, and Jennifer Gross Foundation.

From Profit to Non-Profit

The VII Foundation was developed with a mission to radically transform visual journalism as funding through traditional sources for continuing documentary practice and long-term journalism projects diminished. It was driven by the conviction that a non-profit structure would be an appropriate vehicle to initiate stories that advocate for change, impact policy, and train a new generation of visual journalists immersed in their own communities.

With an emphasis on changing policy and educating youth, our high-profile projects narrate lived experiences, document complex problems, and seek sustainable solutions. The VII Foundation has recently produced prominent films, books, and exhibitions in multiple languages, which have been exhibited worldwide, reviewed in leading media, and taught in schools and colleges. Our signature project, taken from our book Imagine: Reflections on Peace, is touring Europe and the United States and has recently been exhibited at the United States Institute for Peace, the National Museum of Bosnia & Herzegovina, and the Museum of the International Committee of the Red Cross. 

©Alexandra Boulat/ VII
©Gary Knight/ VII
©Ron Haviv/ VII

Promote, teach, and mentor

VII Academy

VII Academy provides tuition-free courses in visual journalism to practitioners in the Majority World and underrepresented communities in G20 countries. VII Academy is democratizing the information narrative and giving communities the tools to narrate their own stories in regions where media education is poorly resourced.

In the last four years, VII Academy has trained over 1,200 people from 100 countries in nine languages, with more than half of them identifying as female.

VII Academy training is structured as a pathway from the first point of contact to high-level practice. It is done online or in person at campuses in Arles, France, and Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina. VII Academy has three programs: the Program for Narrative and Documentary Photography taught at Levels 1, 2, and 3, the VII Mentor Program, and the Master of Arts in Visual Journalism.

In addition, VII Academy partners with like-minded organizations to provide additional, focused training initiatives. VII Academy’s programs are enabled by the generous support of our partners, especially The William, Jeff & Jennifer Gross Family Foundation, PhotoWings, Canon, Creative New Zealand, the Foundation for Systemic Change, Leica, and the Poklon Foundation. 

VII Community

In the foundation’s education pathway, ongoing support for our alumni is a vital task. To this end, we created VII Community in partnership with PhotoWings.

VII Community is a network of VII Academy alumni and Foundry Photojournalism Workshop participants that number more than 1,400 professionals. It supports those who have completed our courses with connections to the profession through online discussions, presentations, reviews, in-person global meet-ups, and a Discord platform for regular exchanges.

VII Insider

The foundation seeks to elevate the public conversation about visual journalism. For this, we have VII Insider, our free online platform for debate that takes the general audience inside the profession of visual journalism to advance the production and analysis of photography, documentary stories, and visual journalism. Our partnership with PhotoWings makes VII Insider possible.

VII Insider brings people together to see creative presentations, learn from experts in the field, and read analyses of visual journalism. VII Insider offers regular live presentations, an extensive and searchable video collection of more than 120 previous events, and publishes the best writing on the role of images in Dispatches: The VII Insider Blog on Substack.

©Maggie Steber/ VII
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