Spring Initiative “empowers young people in the Mississippi Delta to beat the odds; access the opportunities they deserve; and build successful, happy, and hopeful lives for themselves. Spring believes in the transformational power of relationships and education. Spring provides holistic opportunities and steady support; it is the students who do the hard work to make their dreams come true and build a bright future. The young men and women of Coahoma County are creating and inspiring change every day. “
Spring Initiative was named because Spring is the most hopeful season- ready to bloom and the co-founders Anja Theissen and Bianca Zaharescu first started volunteering in the Delta and saw a need for additional support for students an families to realize their dreams. Spring was founded in 2011 by Anja Thiessen and Bianca Zaharescu, together with the founding team members Valerie Papillon and Matt Sutton, to invest in the brilliance and potential of the amazing students in Coahoma County, and to address the lack of opportunities and resources available to them. Between 2003 and 2010, all 4 had spent gap years in Clarksdale and built relationships with young people and their families while working as teacher’s assistants and with Habitat for Humanity. Throughout college, they stayed in touch, and moved back as soon as they could. Today, Spring operates with an-ever growing staff of caring educators and volunteers, the majority of whom grew up in Clarksdale. Rachel Bouer, who was a founding cohort director of Junior Spring in 2004, joined Bianca & Anja on the leadership team in 2019.
“Students growing up in the Mississippi Delta face the consequences of centuries of racism, discrimination, and disinvestment every day. They attend under-staffed and under-resourced schools in a community where over 70% of children grow up below the poverty line. Spring works with the students and families who have been most impacted by these injustices. Beating the odds requires opportunity and support, which is not offered to too many individuals and families across the Mississippi Delta and especially Coahoma County.”
Spring Initiative invites students to learn in 5 different cohort groups (based on age) with 2 leaders through their educational career. They have also expanded to include support for infants and toddlers and their families as well.
I was able to spend 2 hours during our recent trip to Mississippi with the current staff of Spring Initiative partnering to create images that help share their story and unique organization.
You can learn more & support their good work here.
I adored partnering with Spring Initiative & am so excited to see how they utilize the images we created together.
“I have always hated getting pictures taken of me, especially anything non candid. This was the first time in my 31 years of life where I actually loved the MAJORITY of the pictures I was featured in – and where I was able to truly feel at ease and even excited in the process! Roxanne was such a joy to work with – her energy was so engaging and uplifting, but in a really warm and authentic way that made it almost impossible to feel insecure or grumpy! I highly recommend that every team (or individual!) who has the chance take the opportunity to work with her – she will absolutely create permanent images showing the true and unique shine you have!”
“Roxanne was truly a joy to work with – she was affirming, funny, helpful, and engaging. Taking photos like this is not only helpful to our organization, but with Roxanne it was also a chance to bond and see each other in new light!”
“Roxanne was a dream to work with! We needed individual staff pictures and group shots, and the 2 hours we spent with Roxanne ended up feeling like an exciting team-building event. Her overwhelming positivity, relentless creativity, and supportive personality made everyone not just feel at ease but able to engage and pose for pictures in ways you can usually only do for friends you’ve known for a long time. She is able to get the very best from a team by bringing her very best, and the results speak for themselves: we absolutely love our images! And we can feel good about the images because Roxanne made sure to inquire about potential background locations (“what’s the history of this mural?”) or community dynamics (“how do you feel about this space/building/background?”), and made sure that every individual felt comfortable with the way they were posing. Working with Roxanne was an all-around fantastic experience and we hope to do it again!”
This work is a gift & I am grateful to partner with amazing people doing great work in the world.
A visual storyteller that focuses on human emotion & connection. I help families, individuals, & couples to share their beautiful messy story.
I also partner with humanitarian, non-for-profit organizations, and NGOs share their stories with intention, dignity, & excellence, so they can have a greater impact on their communities.