Sunday, November 20, 2011

Grand Opening Event at Reciprocity's Holistic Center

It was a beautiful evening in which Reciprocity graduates, staff, volunteers, donors and community gathered to celebrate the historic milestone of opening the first-ever holistic center for homeless youth.  The photos tell the whole story--smiles, joy, hope and inspiration prevailed.
Attendees received a massage, screened a film, sat in meditation, ate vegetarian appetizers and spent time getting to know each other.  What a night!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lyssette Horne Screens INVISIBLE film for Texas Homeless Conference

To learn more about Lyssette Horne, youth leader and Production Coordinator at In the Life, click HERE.

Reciprocity Trains Texas Leaders at Regional Conference Oct 12-14, 2011

Today, Taz Tagore (co-founder of Reciprocity) and Lyssette Horne (Reciprocity graduate) screened the Emmy-nominated and homeless youth produced film INVISIBLE: Diaries of New York's Homeless Youth and led workshops training Texas homeless agency leaders in the Reciprocity methodology we call the "Whole Person Approach." Both workshops were well-attended and positively reviewed. The workshops may lead to new opportunities for Reciprocity to train and develop new models for the largest Texas homeless shelters and youth agencies. Stay tuned!

For more information on the conference, visit Texas Homeless Network
Annual Conference in Dallas, TX

Reciprocity Workshop Description (Delivered on October 12, 2011)
Employing a Whole Person Approach: A New Model for Serving At-Risk, Homeless and LGBTQ-identified Youth
What does it mean to integrate the physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual needs of an at-risk young person? How can social workers, case managers and youth development practitioners help youth identify, reflect upon and achieve critical milestones across the full spectrum of their needs? This interactive session will introduce the Whole Person approach used by the Reciprocity Foundation in New York City to support homeless and incarcerated youth. Using film clips from an Emmy-nominated film about youth homelessness, this interactive session will expose practitioners to the Whole Person frameworks, proven hands-on approaches and recent case studies, in which this approach helped a young person break the cycle of poverty, enroll in college, find meaningful work and heal from a history of abuse.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reciprocity Student Isis King Kicks Off New Season of America's Next Top Model

On the season premiere of Tyra Banks’ hit show America’s Next Top Model, transgender contestant Isis King returned as a fan favorite. Isis got her start on the show posing as a model for a Cycle 5 episode focused on youth homelessness. On the next season, she returned as a fierce contestant, despite the physical challenges of modeling as a transgender female, prior to her gender reassignment surgery.

Founded by Taz Tagore and Adam Bucko in 2004, the Reciprocity Foundation ( has helped countless homeless youth from all five boroughs of New York City to transcend poverty, isolation and a lack of direction. Through intensive counseling, yoga, meditation, media training, college preparation and career coaching, the organization helps homeless youth like Isis King start careers in creative sectors such as film, television, fashion and design.

“Isis was a charismatic, intelligent student who is passionate about fashion design and modeling,” says Adam Bucko, co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation. “But as a transgendered woman who lived in a homeless shelter, she faced more obstacles than other aspiring designers and models. That’s where we came in. We helped train Isis to handle the challenges of success while retaining her integrity.”

This season of America’s Next Top Model will be more challenging than ever. The contestants are not about to let Isis steal the spotlight—and Isis, who is beloved as the first transgender model to achieve fame after RuPaul, is not willing to be defeated.

“Isis is back on America’s Next Top Model to do more than model,” said Taz Tagore, co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation. “She wants to knock down barriers for people with a different sexual orientation. She’s become a leader to thousands of young women of all sexual orientations.”

During her time as a student at the Reciprocity Foundation, Isis honed her knowledge of the fashion industry and her design skills. She also learned how to network with fashion industry leaders and to compete in a hyper-competitive industry.

Reciprocity co-founder Adam Bucko said, “At the outset, Isis was like many of our students—passionate about fashion but unable to translate her vision into a career. We helped her develop the skills to become a leader and a role model in America. By the time we introduced Isis to Tyra Banks and Jay Manuel, she was prepared to take advantage of the opportunity.”

For more information about the show, click here.

For an exclusive video about Isis and her time at Reciprocity, click here.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reciprocity Launches New Rich-Media Website

Today, the Reciprocity Foundation launched it's new website. Using the WordPress platform, the new site is filled with rich media--photos, videos and films that reflect the creativity of homeless and foster care youth.

Highlights include:
  • Invisible--the Emmy-nominated film co-created by seven Reciprocity students and CW/PIX can be viewed on the site;
  • New photos from the Reciprocity Foundation's programs will be uploaded each month so that you can meet the students who are leaders in the making;
  • A completely new programs page that includes detailed frameworks, models and examples of our "Whole Person" approach;
  • Previews of our latest films and videos will be posted on the Home page...a new youth project will be launched every month;
  • A new Donate page enables visitors to sponsor the new Reciprocity holistic center for homeless youth, attend a Reciprocity gathering or invest in the next Reciprocity film.
Click here to view our new site...but prepared to be inspired to action!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Derek Cobb performs with Alvin Ailey Dance Company

Reciprocity graduate Derek Cobb--dancer, singer, songwriter and model--has an upcoming performance with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. It's his 3rd performance with the company and he'd appreciate the support of the Reciprocity community.

The performances will be at the Ailey Citigroup Theater on:

August 27th @ 7pm
August 28th @ 3pm
August 28th @ 7pm

Tickets can be purchased here. Click on the link beneath the photograph on the home page.

Derek says, "I am super excited to hit the stage again and I can't wait to see the other dancers perform as well. I hope to see you there."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

First Holistic Center for Homeless Youth

The Reciprocity Foundation is currently pursuing a 5-year lease in the Fashion District to open the first-ever holistic center for homeless youth. It will be a space where youth can create original films and music, meditate and practice yoga, learn to cook vegetarian meals and to work with holistic health practitioners on healing from trauma and abuse. Once fully-funded, the center will be open 7 days a week and staffed with paid and volunteer media producers, integrative counselors, meditation and yoga teachers, business leaders, holistic health practitioners and vegetarian chefs. 

For the past 7 years, the Reciprocity Foundation has been assisting homeless, foster care and at-risk youth from all five boroughs of New York City—with a strong emphasis on helping youth uncover their life’s meaning and purpose and then translating their personal vision into a career, a college degree, a professional network and a portfolio of step-up work experiences. Youth graduates from the Reciprocity Foundation’s programs have become fashion designers, filmmakers, business leaders, media activists and educators—and most stay involved after graduating from Reciprocity by mentoring other homeless and at-risk youth.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Reciprocity Awarded Grant to Support Film Outreach

In August 2011, the Reciprocity Foundation was awarded a grant by the Fledging Fund to support a nationwide outreach project for the youth-created film INVISIBLE: Diaries of New York's Homeless Youth. With the support of this grant, the film will be screened at key conferences in Texas (Texas Homeless Network), Portland (Pear), Philadelphia (National Assn for the Education of Homeless Youth) and many others cities on our national tour.

Please visit to organize a screening in your community.
Or, visit Fledging Fund for more information about the film.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

INVISIBLE (the film) Screened at the Harm Reduction Coalition

On June 26th, 2011, Lyssette Horne, Taz Tagore and Adam Bucko led a screening of the Reciprocity youth-created film called INVISIBLE: Diaries of New York's Homeless Youth at the Harm Reduction Coalition. Over 20 representatives from homeless shelters, youth-serving agencies and members of the HRC attended the screening.

This event kicks off a nationwide tour of the film INVISIBLE that will include Portland, WA, Dallas, TX, Pittsburgh, PA and San Franciso, CA along with many other screenings across the northeast coast.

For more information about the film, visit

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Youth on Retreat

In May 2011, the Reciprocity Foundation hosted it's first youth retreat at the Dharma Drum Center near Pine Bush, NY. Twelve youth signed up to attend and several had risked losing their shelter bed to go on retreat. This was an exciting moment for many of the Reciprocity students--some of whom had never left an urban environment.

When we pulled up at the retreat center, the youth seemed energized by their surroundings. Some immediately started sneezing as their bodies adjusted to the higher pollen count. Some took off their headphones and deeply drank in the sight of trees, lavender bushes, groundhogs and a pristine lake. They seemed unsure of their surroundings, but open.

Over the next three days, youth practiced yoga, meditation, walking meditation, silent meals and participated in discussions rooted in spiritual principles. They enjoyed taking walks by the lake, exploring the woods and taking the time to just rest and breathe.

Rather than finding their inner Zen master, the retreat helped our students discover their inner child. Perhaps they found the childhood that so many of them were denied as children. They began to play—running, jumping, tickling and teasing. They laughed with the giddy abandon of 11-year olds. They shed their city masks and pretenses, their solemnity, their leave-me-alone body language. They all seemed so happy.

During our closing ritual, each person thanked every person in the room for something they had directly or indirectly given us: a smile when we needed it or the courage to try something new. Once again, the noise level rose substantially as words, hugs and tears passed between us. But as I gazed as the Buddha bearing witness to all of it, I could swear that his subtle smile broadened and that his laughter reverberated softly through the room.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Reciprocity Youth Filmmakers Attend 2011 Emmys

Contributed by Lyssette Horne, youth filmmaker and Emmy nominee

I was excited and nervous to attend the Emmy Awards in New York City. I mean, the best of the film and television industry was going to be there. Being nominated for an Emmy award on our first documentary was surprising and humbling too. It reminded me that we all have so much to be thankful for, and so much more work to do.

Being recognized for this documentary, meant much more than being acknowledged for being a filmmaker. It gave viewers proof that if WE can triumph against homelessness, than ANYONE can.

We told our stories honestly--with the goal of touching people's hearts and minds. And we need to continue to do that until all youth have safe housing, either with or outside their families of origin.

We made this documentary to create change. To bring to light the many issues that so many runaway and throw-away youth face. What so many didn't know was that the grueling film schedule--the early mornings and late nights--were even harder for us to cope with because we didn't have the luxury of safe housing or supportive family members.

But we poured our hearts out in the film to put any shame we felt about our past to rest. So that we could start to live free from those fears and doubts that plague so many of us. We wanted to inspire other homeless youth to want more than to just "get by." do more than just get by. To show the world that we can thrive in the face of adversity.

The Reciprocity Foundation has not only inspired me to change and grow, but to demand better for others who are experiencing hardship. I will always be an activist as long as youth are kicked out of their homes, or are forced out onto the street or are living in crisis. INVISIBLE won't be the last project we work on. There is still so much to be said, and we have so much more hope to share with the world.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


February 23, 2011 — They spent their teenage years living on the streets of New York City. Today, a group of formerly homeless adolescents is one step away from winning an Emmy for the gritty, critically acclaimed documentary they produced about their own lives.

“Invisible: The Diaries of New York’s Homeless Youth” was created by—and inspired by—teens and young adults in The Reciprocity Foundation’s program for homeless youth. The half-hour “mini-doc” originally aired on New York’s PIX 11 channel to an audience of roughly 700,000 viewers in late 2009, and it has now been nominated for an Emmy Award by New York Chapter of National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The program offers an intimate, sometimes unsettling look at the enormous economic and cultural challenges homeless teenagers face in their search to find roofs over their heads—along with safety and solace in their lives.

Each year, up to 2.8 million young people experience homelessness. Reciprocity Foundation co-founder Adam Bucko says, “This is a huge victory for homeless youth. We’ve spent the past seven years convincing corporations, governments and the public that homeless youth aren’t hopeless—they have enormous talent, creativity and potential.”

From shooting video to writing copy and overseeing edit sessions, the formerly homeless young people who co-produced “Invisible” mastered the spectrum of television production skills. WNBC news reporter Chris Glorioso, an Emmy award-winning journalist himself, served as a mentor and co-producer on the project.

“I have rarely seen a group of young adults so fearless and so focused,” says Glorioso. “These kids, who spent their formative years sleeping on sidewalks and on strangers’ couches, conceptualized a piece of television that is both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. That’s not easy, even for a seasoned documentary maker.”

The Reciprocity Foundation students undertook this project in order to highlight an often-ignored and somewhat taboo issue; the film documents personal experiences of youth homelessness as only once-homeless teens can capture them.

The show was co-written, co-produced and partially shot by seven of Reciprocity's formerly homeless teens: Lyssette Horne, Selassie Samuel, Eleet Lucheonnie, Aaron McBride, Dorian Paat, Bobby Beavers and Jennifer Carter.

Told mostly from a first-person perspective, “Invisible” explores the causes of youth homelessness that arise when youngsters are orphaned, must flee chronic physical and sexual abuse, are thrown out because of their sexual orientation, or are simply trying to escape overwhelming economic dilemmas. The homeless youth featured in the documentary talk openly about the circumstances that made them homeless and the Reciprocity Foundation’s unique formula for lifting kids out of crisis and into successful careers.

Reciprocity Foundation’s co-founder Taz Tagore says, “Homeless youth can break the cycle of poverty, but only if you enable them to have a career goal that excites them and leverages their talents. In a very real way, working on this documentary has done just that for our students. They were homeless just months ago, but now they can honestly say they’ve produced an Emmy-nominated television show in the nation’s top media market.”

Documentary co-producer Lyssette Horne spent two years homeless and is now making a career in television production. "When I teamed up with Chris, PIX and the Reciprocity Foundation, I started to realize my dream career was in media activism through documentary making,” she says. “After helping write and produce ‘Invisible,’ I know that I can make a difference with the stories and experiences I portray.”

Today, these youth are college graduates, filmmakers, activists and community leaders. Not only that, they are mentors to the younger kids in Reciprocity’s program—demonstrating how success has enabled them to be effective advocates and role models for other homeless kids.

ABOUT US: The Reciprocity Foundation was co-founded by Adam Bucko and Taz Tagore to implement sustainable solutions to homelessness. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit has won numerous awards for its innovative approaches to helping homeless youth break the cycle of poverty. Using an integrated approach—one that combines job training with business leaders, access to college education, yoga, meditation, media training and whole-person counseling—the Reciprocity Foundation has helped hundreds of homeless youth reach their full potential.

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