Faces of New York as Seen Through the Eyes of Talented Teens

“Luminando” By Merelyn Bucio

Merelyn Bucio/NYC SALT

updated 06/03/2014 AT 1:00 PM ET

originally published 06/03/2014 AT 4:45 PM ET

The Big Apple is known for its array of stunning sights and spectacles, but, like any city, it’s the people of New York who make the metropolis shine. NYC SALT is a nonprofit dedicated to training young eyes to capture the individuals and moments that give the city its pulsating excitement.

Founded in 2008 by photographer Alicia Hansen, NYC SALT is a photography program for underprivileged high-schoolers in New York City that utilizes experienced photographers as mentors. With this model, the nonprofit gives students the opportunity to develop their talents and explore their artistic passions.

“People always ask me, ‘What does SALT stand for?’ and as much as I wish we had a clever acronym, it’s really a metaphor for our desire to use digital photography to flavor and preserve the lives of inner-city teens in New York City,” Hansen told PEOPLE.

The support provided by NYC SALT allows students to leave the program with a gorgeous personal portfolio, which becomes a powerful tool in the next step of their careers and lives.

“Since our founding in 2008, we have had a 100% college acceptance rate among our graduates, the majority being the first generation in their family to go to college.” Hansen explained. “Our students have won numerous awards and scholarships for their photography and have ranked in the top photography portfolios in the country.”

As another successful year at SALT draws to a close, the current group of students are preparing to exhibit their work in the program’s annual gallery show. Straight from the teens’ portfolios, these pieces intimately capture New York City’s faces and moments, as perceived by the upcoming generation of creative minds.

Check out a sample (below) of the works now exhibited in NYC SALT’s June 5 showcase at The Bath House Studios.

"Melanie" by Merelyn Bucio

"180th street" by Austin Canales

"Coney Island Grandma" by Ashley Bordoy

"PEACE" by Irvin Vega

"Solitude" by Donis Almanzar

To see more work by the program’s students and support NYC SALT, visit the nonprofit’s website now.

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