Urban Explorers


Urban Explorers, an After School and Summer Program Education Initiative with City Lore supported by The Pinkerton Foundation at City Lore.

URBANEXPLORERS is a summer and after school program that serves High School students. The program introduces students to a variety of art mediums (documentation skills, dance, music, oral history, drumming, hip hop art practices and visual art mediums) through the social inquiry of the Lower East Side, while being responsive to the interests of students. The program engages young people in exploring, documenting, interpreting, and advocating for people and places in their communities and city. Students gain skills in using documentary tools, including audio and video recording, photography, and interviewing. Working in small groups they create documentaries or interpretive artworks about their selected subjects.

Youth Program Manager-Director: Raquel Almazan

Click here to visit the Urban Explorers Blog! Full of photos and descriptions of each session.

Students receive academic career counseling, interview techniques, and a certificate of completion of the Urban Explorers program. Equipment and art supplies, as well as snacks/lunch are provided. Culminating works in progress presentations are performed by students for a final showing of original work created.

* Key student interns assist City Lore staff and teaching artist throughout the program hours.

As a new program Urban Explorers has launched it’s second year of programming October 2019 through June  2020. During all semesters, themes based on identity, social justice and response to current events are explored. Advocacy arose as major connective tool for young people in the development of the program.

Major themes and goals that the program integrates in all disciplines:

#ExploreMe – exploring the identity of young people through exercises and art making tools.

#ExploreWe- exploring the identity of a community- cultures (Lower East Side) and its societal conditions.

#ExploreAdvocacy- exploring the intersection of arts and activism and how their work serves as a tool for social awareness and change.


The student body create multi-disciplinary works in relationship to the themes, places and people of the Lower East Side as well as themes selected by the students.

(1)  Documentary Group of students receive video production skills to complete short films in relationship to the Lower East Side and other themes selected by the students. (interview techniques, shooting and editing training in documentary filmmaking).

(2)  Visual Arts Group of students receive visual arts techniques in concept creation, drawing and painting techniques in order to complete a visual or craft project in relationship to advocacy.

(3)  Music Production Group of students will learn music collaboration to create digital music files that include lyric writing, song composition, singing to contribute to the documentary film scores.

“Sweet Home Chinatown?”   A Doclings Production, documentary film created by Urban Explorers students, Summer Program 2019.


Youth Program Manager-Director: Raquel Almazan

2019-2020 Facilitators:

Music Production, Spoken word: Baba Israel, Grace Galu, Toni Blackman, Eric Escalante, Fernando Lechon.

Visual Arts: Benjamin Rojas, Angel Lopez, Karl Orozco and Ken Fury

Dance: Ken Fury

Documentary: Suzette Burton

Guest Speakers: Huiying B. Chan of Chinatown Art Brigade, Molly Garfinkel, Jodi Waynberg, Sam Cullman, Rich Bama Admiral, Clayton Patterson, Karl Orozco.

Current Interns: Richard Kaiser, Mariela A. Angel, Justin Gray, Sumya Abida,  Alice La and Tahmin Ahmed.

Lead Intern, Coordinating Assistant and Documentation – Joseph Gurbo


Program Participant Quotes


“From this program I learned how I am as a person, and how I behave under pressure. Helping me explore art in a deeper sense, and not just blindly seeing something for what it is. I started becoming more organized and responsible for my work. It was a life changing experience for me as a student and as a person. When I stepped into that City Lore building, I knew it was my second home. The place where I had family I can rely on, family who were always there for me when I was at my worst stages. They gave me a platform to express my creative side and an audience to appreciate the thing I worked on for months”.

-Tahmin Ahmed


“Especially being an artist that’s African American, I was feeling out of the spirit of creating art but being in the space that is City Lore and learning how City Lore strives to protect the culture of New York and to protect indigenous people of different backgrounds allowed to open my eyes to art and culture in many different ways. Hearing that helped understand that you don’t have fit into an ideal of what people think a film should look like, that as an artist we should make things that make our audiences uncomfortable. City Lore, allowed me to see film making in a different light. Making the documentary taught me why we need to create change in our community and our artistry to allow people of all different backgrounds to be able to express themselves in any way they want to”.

-Nyla Dias


My time with City Lore and being in the Urban Explorers program was in fact quite amazing and a wonderful opportunity. I joined the Urban Explorers in my last year of high school and it really opened my eyes to brand new yet different types of art. The first documentary I made was about Social Anxiety and it included a friend from my high school. I wanted to be able to tell his story and to let everyone see a side of social anxiety that we never get to see or hear about. It also gave us so many opportunities to go to plays or shows by amazing artists that were different than what you’d see in museums. They explored so many themes and really opened my eyes to some of the problems people face every day, especially minorities and women. City Lore and their Urban Explorers program was a great way to end my high school experience before entering college. I felt more comfortable with my own art and it gave me the courage to join clubs that helped me pursue my goal of majoring in Journalism.

-Valeria Martinez


“The neighborhood tour lead by Molly Garfinkal was my personal favorite; learning so much about the rich and diverse history of the Lower East Side and its inhabitants, and the troubles it faces today taught me a lot. It also influenced the way how the mural turned out, making me think about how we can make the mural more inclusive to the community, where it would be located and the people who live there.  I learned teamwork, responsibility, compromise, and how to lead a group. The knowledge and experience gained is unique to the program. It is a wonderful and rewarding place to be”.

-Kareem Davidson


“My experience at City Lore was very educational and fun. I enjoyed how City Lore had combined my interest in filming and made it so I was learning about the Lower East Side and its history while we were tasked on a mission to see how Chinatown had been changed. I love how we were able to shoot interviews and travel. I really enjoyed how I was able to share and help as an intern in the summer Urban Explorers program and connect with my peers”.

-Michelle Villalba


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