How can I give subscribers level_1 access?

I'm trying to use a MCE editor on the frontside (WP 3.3) of my site using wp_editor() with media buttons set to true. This works with one exception, the media upload section has some issues.

1. It uploads the image but visually it fails while crunching the image when attempting as a subscriber, succeeds when attempting as a contributor. (I've given subscriber the same "capabilities" as a contributor so the only difference I can imagine leading to this result is level_1 access)

2. Before adding this feature I was blocking all dashboard access from subscribers with a filter like this

if (strpos($_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'],'wp-admin/')){
      wp_redirect(get_option('siteurl') );
}

But the media upload needs access to files within that area so this redirect causes conflict, and I'm not sure if there is maybe a better way to lockout subscribers from the backend without locking down the libraries that I might need.

Any and all help on this topic would be AMAZING! Thanks guys