Monday, October 6, 2008

Founders of the Reciprocity Foundation named "Heroes of the Week"

Reciprocity Foundation founders Taz Tagore and Adam Bucko were recently named "Heroes of the Week" by Shine Global, a non-profit dedicated to ending the abuse and exploitation of children. Shine Global is internationally renowned for its groundbreaking media and film advocacy work on behalf of children. Among many of their distinguished projects is the film War/Dance, that was nominated for the 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

To read the "Heroes of the Week" profile go to

Photograph by Peter Turnley

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Sparlha Swa is an internationally touring alternative soul singer and songwriter. Her songs appeared on the hit shows "Girlfriends" and "BETJ". She is currently part of the new critically-acclaimed musical "Fela" In New York City.

Q: Tell us about what you do and why you volunteer at Reciprocity?
A: I'm a singer and musician who supports and partners with life-affirming, art-based projects and organizations.

Q: How are you involved with Reciprocity?
A: The fantastic folks at Reciprocity were gracious enough to invite me to give a short performance one day, just me and my guitar. I ended up swapping songs and lyrics back and forth with the kids, listening to their process of recording that summer.

Q: Can you give an example of an experience you found rewarding at Reciprocity?
A: The energy, talent, brilliance, ambition and love in the room that day was amazing. I left so inspired.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Isis raises the bar on what it means to be a model on the season premiere of ANTM

The first episode of cycle 11 of America’s Next Top Model aired, featuring Reciprocity Foundation graduate Isis. Although brimming with controversy, Isis’s performance illustrated that she had more than earned her right to be a contestant. Judge on the show, noted fashion photographer Nigel Barker echoed these sentiments – “I think with the transgender issue it’s very easy to caricature someone like Isis. But when I spoke with her the other day she really knew her light, she knew what to do. and she was smart. She’s got real emotion and feeling, and I think it is because she has lived.” The Reciprocity Foundation has worked with Isis since the fall of 2007. She has never let her bouts with adversity as a homeless youth deter her on her path.

Isis was a standout. Not because she is transgender, but rather as a talented contestant who was completely prepared for all the challenges presented. She embodied all the principles that the Reciprocity Foundation teaches in our program. She arrived with an illustration for Tyra, demonstrating her technical ability for design. She impressed Nigel in her one-on-one interview with her knowledge of the modeling industry. When contestants threw uncomfortable questions at her, she was calm under fire.

We at the Reciprocity Foundation are ecstatic about her success and are sure that her talent, dedication and perseverance will yield great results.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reciprocity Foundation's program graduate breaks new ground as the first transgender contestant on America's Next Top Model

The Reciprocity Foundation is proud to announce that one of our recent program graduates, Isis, is a contestant on Season 11 of Tyra Banks' top rated show, America’s Next Top Model. Reciprocity partnered with ANTM during season 10, for a photo shoot aimed at educating Americans on youth homelessness. Isis was one of two transgender students whom Reciprocity selected to appear on the prime-time reality show. Reciprocity’s Executive Director, Taz Tagore said, “We wanted America to see that beauty doesn’t have any limitations.”

After appearing as a homeless youth model with other Reciprocity students Isis was invited to be a contestant on the show. She is the first transgender model selected for Tyra Banks' hit show. “Isis is a perfect example of how a person can transform their life when offered support, opportunity and coaching,” said Adam Bucko, Reciprocity’s Managing Director. He added, “Her success reaffirms the work of the Reciprocity Foundation.”


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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Gay City News features Reciprocity Foundation and Lysette Horne

The Reciprocity Foundation
has recently been featured in a number of publications and blogs including New York Magazine, LGBT Youth News Blog and Gay City News. The articles have focused on the successes of our programs and the achievements of many program graduates.

Click on the link below to read an article written by Winnie McCroy for Gay City News. It features an outline of an event held at Reciprocity as well as an interview with one of our graduates, Lysette Horne. Lysette graduated from our program last year and has gone on to lead many projects for the Foundation, including two photo shoots she conceptualized and directed.

Lysette said "All of those experiences helped me to know what's possible, to have an idea of what is going to make me happy, and to have a good plan for my future. I believe that I am a catalyst for change. I am doing more with my talent than I have ever done before. I no longer dream about becoming a photographer or an artist - I call myself that."

Image of Lysette Horne by Peter Turnley

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Bringing graduates back together for Thursday Alumni Nights

We have recently launched Alumni Nights every Thursday at 6pm, inspired by requests and initiatives from our program's graduates. One graduate said that the “Design Your Future” program had changed her life, and enabled her to get her dream job in the fashion industry. But now that she is working, she realized it would be great to meet with fellow graduates, to discuss some of the challenges they were facing as young creative professionals, and to offer each other mutual support and encouragement. Another graduate said that now that he is on the road to success in his chosen career in the music industry, he would love to be able to mentor other students and share with them some of his experiences and resources.

It is because of statements like these we decided to create a space for graduates to reconnect, to achieve their best and to become powerful forces in the world. Thursday nights will feature youth led support groups, speaker series where graduates will get to meet and network with executives from leading creative firms, personalized support for their creative projects, as well as life coaching.

If you are interested in attending an Alumni Night, please contact Adam at

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Homeless LGBTQ Youth setting goals to 'Design Their Futures'

The Reciprocity Foundation partnered with Green Chimneys, a transitional living program for LGBTQ homeless youth, to host one of the first collaborative 'Design Your Future' speaker series. Nearly 40 homeless predominately LGBTQ youth were joined by professionals from ASCAP, Calvin Klein Home, Atlantic Records, MTV, and Girls Write Now. Youth were given the unique opportunity to gain industry insight and know-how from some of the best. In addition, young people were able to work on their networking skills, build a stronger community support system, and have fun in the process.

The event was nothing less than a success. Pairing strong industry professionals with talented and motivated youth has been a formula the Reciprocity Foundation has used since it's inception. "Youth and professionals alike benefit from these encounters because it gives them both perspective and meaning," said Natasha Johnson-Lashley, Director of Education at the Reciprocity Foundation. "As facilitators we'll continue to seek out these meaningful opportunities and offer them to our youth and professional communities.

Founded in 1947, Green Chimneys is the nationally renowned, non- profit organization recognized as the leader in restoring possibilities and creating futures for youth and children.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Homeless youth working with Ketchum to take over the Internet

, one of the leading global public relations and marketing agencies, recently teamed up with the Reciprocity Foundation to train homeless youth in digital media. Students had the chance to work with experts and learn how to use new media and digital strategies to promote and market their innovative projects and designs. After the workshop, all of the students agreed that the tools they had learned would help them to become successful youth leaders in the emerging world of new media and social networking.

Ketchum's Gretchen Hutter said the following "We were delighted to host a media training session and discussion of digital media strategies with some of the Reciprocity Foundation participants. It was absolutely refreshing that the participants were so engaged, eager to learn, driven and interactive. Their messages are truly worth hearing, and I have no doubt the initiatives they're launching are going to take them places! Can't wait to see what's next."

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Reciprocity Foundation featured on America's Next Top Model

The issue of youth homelessness was highlighted on Tyra Banks' show, America's Next Top Model. The Reciprocity Foundation's Executive Director, Taz Tagore, was featured on the show to educate the models about the issue of homelessness. In addition, five Reciprocity program graduates were photographed in the weekly photo shoot alongside models and given a chance to interact behind the scenes.

Here are a few quotes from Reciprocity youth about their experience:

ISIS: "I thought the photo shoot was really great. As an artistic person, it was exciting to see that side of the business - photographers, creative directors, the whole process. And I have always been a huge fan of the show!"

ANGELIKA: "Jay was such a character and really nice. I enjoyed speaking to him. I pulled him aside and mentioned I was interested in auditioning for the next season, but was concerned a transgender girl could not apply. He was really honest with me and said if I was dedicated and really wanted this, I should absolutely apply."

You can watch the episode re-run this Sunday (check your local listings), or by purchasing it now on iTunes.

While America's Next Top Model might not have provided enough information about the root causes and possible solutions to homelessness, they did equip 8 million viewers with some basic information about the issue. You can keep the dialogue going by commenting on this blog, getting involved with Reciprocity or by volunteering at a local youth shelter or drop-in center.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Going Digital

The Reciprocity Foundation has finally entered the digital age. Not only have we created our first YouTube video posting, but we are working on developing a multimedia curriculum that can be delivered to homeless and foster care youth via DVD, Internet or PC. Have a look at this clip, one of the first videos we posted and please feel free to add your comments. We want to broadcast stories of hope and transformation - as our organization focuses on creating SUSTAINABLE solutions to homelessness.

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Friday, February 8, 2008

Reciprocity's Annual Benefit

For anyone that still believes that homeless youth are helpless people seeking handouts, our inaugural fundraiser on November 21, 2007 proved them wrong. The event, hosted by ONE Restaurant in New York City, featured four current or formerly homeless youth who graduated from the Reciprocity Foundation's programs - all of whom shared inspirational stories of how they have (and continue to) transform their lives from a state of poverty to leadership and creativity. Sabine, Angelika, Lyssette and Yaas are bright, creative individuals with an extraordinary future ahead of them.

For more information on our program, visit our website at

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