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Why Donate to BAYCAT Today?

Because our educational and training programs bring diverse talent to the tech, media and creative industries.

Make their dream jobs come true. Help us reach our $85,000 goal today.

In light of all that has occurred in the past months and especially in this past week, BAYCAT stands strong and committed to equality, social justice and opportunities for all. For the last 12 years, we have served those most misrepresented in our country: 100% low-income youth, youth of color, young women and unemployed young adults. Last year, 300 applicants applied for our 100 positions. It is a myth that there aren’t enough diverse, talented and qualified candidates who are female or of color, and passionate about working in the creative industry.

We’re here to tell the real story and their stories. The pipeline of qualified young people is here in San Francisco and the Bay Area, and that is why we want to solidify the path between education and employment for more qualified youth-in-need.

BAYCAT gets real and sustainable results. 80% of BAYCAT Studio interns get hired after graduating from BAYCAT at companies like Autodesk, Lucasfilm, HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Pixar, Sephora and WIRED. Our transitional-age young adult graduates are on the path to careers with livable wage salaries that will keep these talented digital media creatives in the Bay Area. These 18-24 year olds are 100% low-income, unemployed or underemployed and predominately of color and female. They are the solution to keeping San Francisco diverse, inclusive, and vibrant.

BAYCAT Studio is an important part of our unique hybrid business model. Working with nationally-recognized and socially responsible clients like The Golden State Warriors and National Parks Service makes the internship and on-the-job experience for our students real and relevant, while building their resumes for success. Although in this last year, our Studio helped to bring in 40% of our annual income, the revenue from our Studio alone does NOT pay for all the educational and on-the-job training costs. Every dollar earned supports our ability to keep our Academy and internship pipeline going, but we also need your donations to keep our youth classes free, and to allow us to pay and train our interns on-the-job.

Many of our Academy students grow with us through the years and become graduates of our Studio Internship Program because the mentoring they receive keeps them focused and on-track. 100% of our youth of color who have taken more than two BAYCAT Academy classes continue their education in school. For many BAYCAT students, our facility is the only place they have to access industry-grade equipment to teach them professional tech and storytelling skills in conjunction with a safe and nurturing environment that teaches them skills every employer is looking for: the ability to problem solve, to collaborate, critically think, communicate and actively listen and learn.

Turning 200 students away last year was extremely difficult. With growing demand from our youth and from the tech, media and creative industries for increased diversity, now is the time to build our reserves so that we can strategically plan to scale what we do best to bring more diverse youth into the education to employment pipeline.

BAYCAT students are diverse. Help us change the face(s) of the tech, media and creative industries, literally.

BAYCAT Stats

Want to meet some of our graduates in person? Join us and our youth on December 8th from 6pm-8pm, for the World Premiere of Zoom In: Episode 36 – The Media Effect at the recently renovated, historic Bayview Opera House. Witness and listen to our students’ stories as they address the role of race, gender and new technologies in the media.

More than 3,500 BAYCAT low-income students and interns found success with our model. You can be a part of the solution that our region, and this country, needs to see and hear. You can give them the support and tools they need to become skilled, qualified, educated, digital media artists.

You can help them find their dream jobs and not just survive, but thrive. Please donate today.

Interested in going the extra mile and doing more this year? Set up your own fundraising page and goal. Go to our donate page, and click Become a Supporter. Start Your Own Campaign Page.

Let’s get students to dream big, get hired and repeat!

Q&A with BAYCAT Academy Film Student D’Arion, 17

We got a chance to sit down last week with D’Arion and talk about how BAYCAT is shaping his career and influencing his life. We are so fortunate to have young people like him in our program and in the world. Get to know D’Arion and see BAYCAT’s programming in action!

Q: Tell me about school. Do you enjoy it? What parts do you like the most?

A: I’m in high school right now and a lot of times I hear kids say, “I’m not going to use this in life, so what’s the point?” But I don’t think so. I love learning. English is a big part of what we do in film production. We have to write scripts. We have to critically think. That leads to science and exploring and testing. Which leads to math where you have to problem solve. All of these skills can be related to different topics in your life and used. I love school.

College

D’Arion (left) in action.

Q: What brought you to BAYCAT?

A: I’ve been here for about three years. I always wanted to go to summer camp but we could never afford it. For just a week it was $2,000! I was at a summer camp fair with my Mom and saw a sign that said, “Free” at the BAYCAT booth. When I talked to the lady there I could tell she liked me and wanted me to be at BAYCAT. Then I met Zara, my BAYCAT teacher. She showed me what Villy and everyone else here believes, that through film you can express yourself because personal stories matter. I got put in documentary class and I really didn’t want to do it. I thought it would be boring. Just some guy who keeps talking. The main question people have asked me since I was 12 is what do you want to be? I want to do something I love and get paid for it. That’s why I got more into documentary making. That’s when I got to use my skills in English. Because you had to critically think on what the topic should be for Zoom In. You had to thoughtfully write out questions to get to the main point. You had to have group discussions and use conversational skills and critical thinking skills. I use those skills every single day. Zara showed me how to be realistic in what I was thinking. If my big picture goal is to interview President Obama, how would I do that? I learned business skills and planning. Each semester that class would bring me back again and again.

Q: What’s it like to be working in a real studio?

A: Initially, I thought it would be very school oriented. Write this down. Listen to this. Lessons upon lessons. Then Zara explained the program to us and showed us that it was our space. That we were limitless in what we could learn and it was all up to us.

Q: What did you think about all of the tools/hardware/software?

A: The first time I was really intimidated by all of the mechanicals. I had never worked on a Mac before. I’ve always been a PC person. Learning really basic skills was so helpful. I feel like I’m on the same level as anyone else coming out of a great high school because of the technology and tools that we have at BAYCAT. Because of that, I know technical language. When I was at the Arts Academy they asked what kind of equipment we used. The teacher was shocked to know what I’ve used. I know how to use Illustrator, and Photoshop and that gave me the advantage over people. I’ve been learning these skills at BAYCAT since I was 14.

This space makes me feel like I’m in a professional production studio. You see people making business calls. You see them editing and working on projects. I feel like I’ve already made it. I feel like I’m living my dream. But, I know I have more work to do though and that’s what keeps me coming back to BAYCAT.

I recommend this program every single day. I got one of my friends to sign up. He couldn’t come back this semester because he had to get a job. I think if he could be paid here he would have come back. My teachers are very supportive of my work at BAYCAT. I brought every teacher from my school here for Zoom in. My Biology teacher at school got me all the interviews with John Hafernik who is the scientist featured in Zoom in 34, “ZomBees” which won 3rd prize at San Francisco Green Film Festival.

Q: Once you leave BAYCAT, can you paint me the picture of your dream career?

A: I don’t think I’ll stop coming until my age is over the limit and they won’t let me come back. Until they get sick of me, I’m going to keep coming back! I’ve made so many connections with other students connected to this industry. We talk all the time about things that we could produce together: Phil, Ginger, Stella, Hugo and many others who are passionate about being in this industry and are doing things they love and giving back to the world. I love to be around positive people. I like to surround myself with people who are good.

I’m already planning to go to college for film production. I am trying to plan how to make that happen. I want the hands on experience of learning and doing during the same time that I am in school. I took a class at the Academy of San Francisco in TV and movie production. The teacher said having a degree is good and will get you recognition, but, the main thing that will get you hired is having the skills. Most students know things in theory, but they don’t have the skills for practical application. I’ve learned all those skills at BAYCAT.

Q: What’s your favorite piece you did at BAYCAT?  

A: I would say, that’s like asking a parent to pick their favorite child! You can’t ask that! But, probably, “Why Ask Me?” I came up with the concept. It was the closest to my heart because it dealt with all the big issues that I care about, like education. Taking the time out to ask a person what do you want out of life? It benefits you as much as them because you end up on the same page.

Q: If a stranger read this–what would you want his/her takeaway thought of you to be?  

A: That I love to learn. I’m a young man trying to find his way through life and spread peace, love and positivity through film and other mediums. Because for me, that is what I get out of other artists.

A lot of other African American kids feel like they have two options: Do good and learn, or have friends and be “true” to your race. I want those options to change. Have your friends, and have an education and have a career, own a home and support your family. For me, having options–I really dedicate that to my mother because she is very supportive of me and what I want to do with my life. Because of BAYCAT, I’m involved with other activities that she supports too. I was part of Vote16 which tried to let 16 and 17 year olds vote in local elections here. And, I’m a part of the SF Public Library’s Youth Advisory Program. I teach others how to use Adobe Premier and do film production. It’s at The Mix in the new Teen Center. They have everything BAYCAT has in the library. Because I learned it at BAYCAT, I get to teach it to other kids who don’t go there. If no one taught me or gave me the chance I would never have known this is what I wanted to do in life. I would just have a regular 9-5 job. Passing stuff on is important to me. If everyone did that the world would be a better place.

Inside BAYCAT: Carla Orendorff, BAYCAT Media Producer & Mentor

Getting to Know our Newest Team Member & Youth Media Instructor

Meet Carla! Carla joins BAYCAT as a Media Producer and Mentor, working with the youth and young adults teaching filmmaking skills. A documentary filmmaker, artist and educator, Carla has taught filmmaking classes with hundreds of young people in collaboration with organizations throughout Los Angeles and the Bay Area, and is excited to use her skills to inspire a new group of students.

Where are you from? 

I was born in Hollywood and raised in Los Angeles. I mostly grew up in Reseda- which is in the San Fernando Valley, 30 miles northwest of LA. The Valley is where the term “Valley Girl” comes from, so I guess that makes me one! The neighborhood I grew up in is a diverse, working-class Latino, Asian, and Eastern European immigrant community with lots of families and many languages spoken. The landscape consists of auto body shops and horse stalls and the subject of the Tom Petty song, “Free Fallin.”  Reseda is also where the movie Karate Kid takes place.

Why the Bay Area? 

The Bay Area has always been this place of possibility- there is a spirit of challenging the status quo through art and politics that is very inspiring to me. I have always been drawn to the legacies of radical activism here in the Bay Area- from the Black Panthers, to the student activism for Ethnic Studies at SF State, to queer activism of ACT UP during the AIDS crisis. What I love most are the people here- the many faces that I see become familiar in a city full of neighborhoods, each with their own histories.
The reality of living in the Bay Area, specifically in San Francisco, has been harsh. The cost of living, the struggle for housing, and the fight to remain in the city affects all of us- whether you are a teacher, a businessman, a mother, a city worker, or a young person just trying to get by. We are all connected and have a real impact on each others’ lives, and we need to make it right for all the families, the elders, and young people who call San Francisco their home.

What made you want to work with youth?

Growing up as a queer mixed-race girl, I didn’t see myself in the movies or TV shows I watched, or the books I read. Thankfully, I had some amazing teachers in high school who encouraged me to develop my own perspective as an artist and an activist- it was the first time I began to take my own ideas seriously. My hope, as an educator, is to challenge this dominant culture of profit and level the playing field where young people recognize their power as creators, decision makers, and full and complete human beings with something important and valuable to share with the world.

What is your favorite part of working with youth?

I love the way young people breathe life into a room, into your lesson plans, take the theme and the concepts we’re working with and make it their own. Young people will always surprise you. They keep it real too. I’m grateful to always be learning from the experiences of young people. Oh! They also make me laugh and tend to find the humor in all things.

Have you had and fun or memorable experiences with youth in your career so far?

So many! I will never forget shutting down the 2nd Street tunnel in Los Angeles with 40 young people to film an opening scene on Halloween a few years back. Working on the set of a Margaret Cho music video with a team of teen girls was amazing. Seeing young people off to college or writing recommendations for jobs in their dream field has been extremely rewarding as well.

What has working with young people taught you?

Working with youth has reminded me to never give up on the 15 year-old girl that resides in me and to tell her to never give up on her dreams.

Why is youth media important?

Seeing the world through the eyes of young people will change the way you look at the world. Young people hold vision and they have really solid ideas about how to make the world a better and more inclusive place for all people. I have seen youth media inform curriculum, affect policy, and remind us of what it means to bring out our best for our communities and ourselves.

What do you do when you’re not at BAYCAT?

You can find me swimming, climbing trees, reading books, watching movies in old theaters, going for long walks through the city, and working on my own documentary projects.

Quickies:

Last book read? Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band by Michelle Cruz Gonzales

On Your iPod? Kendrick Lamar’s good kid m.A.A.D city forever, on repeat.

Favorite movie: Shadows by John Cassavetes

Favorite restaurant: The Old Clam House in Bayview

Favorite meal of all time: Sopa de Mani is a potato and peanut based stew from Bolivia, where my mom is from. It’s cooked slowly over hours with beef ribs and garnished with parsley fries on top- so delicious!

BAYCAT San Francisco Nonprofit Social Enterprise Internship and Youth Programs

Not Quite Goodbye: Music Producer Jason Valerio Makes His Move

Member of BAYCAT’s Music Program Pursuing Music Full-Time

After an AMAZING 4 years at BAYCAT, Jason “Trackademicks” Valerio will be pursuing his music career full-time. Jason, a Bay Area native, will be splitting his time between the Bay and LA. Here’s a little insight into his future plans, plus what he will miss, and why this isn’t goodbye.

Where are you from? 

Alameda, CA.

So Bay *and* LA? Why keep both?

There’s nowhere with the Bay Area’s specific flavor. A true cultural Melting pot. A Lot of ethnically/culturally mixed folks, with equally diverse neighborhoods make for an awesome living experience. Never boring. Aside from the people, the nature here is amazing. The microclimates make it so that you can experience whatever weather you want, whenever you want. The mountains, trees, water, beaches, are all so picturesque. As a Bay Area resident, you pretty much have it all.

What will you miss most about working with youth?

The Youth keep you Young. I cherish the fact that I’ve gotten to see my students at that moment of epiphany where something “clicks”… It’s a constant reminder of my own journey and how those very same things happened for me. It’s a very rewarding thing to be able to demystify certain concepts and processes for youth. They’ll always remember how you helped their development. What I’ll miss most is the daily exchange of knowledge and ideas, as I’ve learned so much from them as well.

What is your most fun or memorable experiences with youth in your career?

There’s are too many to name. In general, the most memorable moments are when the students’ questions start to subside, and they shift from needing assistance with the music making process to being self sufficient. Aside from that, I remember working with one of my students, Thomas, and him saying that he’d never be able to do a beat in one day. Next thing you know he was producing 3-5 in one class sitting.

What has working with youth taught you?

I’ve learned that you can’t just explain something just one way. You have to convey the material you teach from almost every possible perspective/method, as each student learns differently. Also, I’ve learned that they’ll absorb as much as you throw at them. They’ll surprise you with how much they’re able to accomplish. They’ve also reminded me to always communicate.

What’s next for you?

Music, Music, Music. I’m going to continue to develop my company, HNRL Music, producing and collaborating for a range of different musicians. I’d love to get into film scoring too. I’ll definitely be DJ’ing out more, hoping to throw some great events in the near future. Also, hopefully exploring more of the Southern California “Fresh Coast”, as I’ve mostly been a NorCal person. And just more traveling in general. I’m definitely not planning it out… just going to go with the flow.

Is this the end of Jason and BAYCAT?

Definitely not! I love BAYCAT. It will forever be family. I’d love to come back and share what I learn during my time away with the interns and the youth!

Any last words?

My time at BAYCAT has been on of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I’m thankful to have had the chance to know everyone here! I’ll miss everyone deeply!

Always Our Way, All Bay, All Bay All Day. Forever Fresh Coastin’. Yeee!

Quickies:

Favorite album: N*E*R*D ‘In Search of…’

On Your iPod: Sade, Kaytranada, Prince, King, Trackademicks

Favorite movie: The Secret of My Succe$s

Favorite restaurant: La Penca Azul in Alameda… mostly because of the time had there

Favorite meal of all time: Too many to name… probably

Avoid the Back to School Rush + Support Diversity

Streamline back to school shopping, and do some good while you’re at it!

BTS

Back to school madness is upon us. The end of summer means school is now back in session. As students head back to the classroom, busy parents are even busier making sure kids are prepared. Consider giving yourself or someone you love one less headache during this hectic shopping season – try smile.amazon.com, and let the schools supplies come to you. Plus, using this link means Amazon donates a percentage of what is spent to BAYCAT, investing in our community at no cost to you. It doesn’t matter if you live in San Francisco or the other side of the world — anyone can share and use the link to Benefit BAYCAT. Be sure to bookmark it on whatever search engine you use and then just click the link every time you want to shop at Amazon. It’s simple, easy and a really great way to help fund the work our students and interns do without any additional cost to you.

Wishing you a safe and healthy start to the new school year!

– The BAYCAT Team

music album, BAYCAT

Listen. Vibe. Share. Change Their World.

First Album Ever Produced by BAYCAT Youth.

Housing crisis.

Election fears.

Black Lives Matter.

Today, our youth are navigating a world with big questions and few answers. Empowering them to use their voice through music and media to confront these major issues is more important now than ever. BAYCAT works with kids as young as 11 years old to educate and train underserved kids in San Francisco and the Bay Area, combating gaps in social equity and education by placing young people on the path from education to employment in the digital media arts. BAYCAT creates a safe place where youth and young adults are able to gain the tools and platform to express themselves and advocate for world they want to see.

In the first ever BAYCAT album 3rd @ Twilight, the lyrics in “What’s Going On,” written by Angela, 14, and Ze’Vonte, 16, and inspired by Marvin Gaye, have an undeniable power: “It’s hard to fight a fear that will always fight back. … It feels like a modern day war. Haven’t we been here before? Back in 1954.”

The 3rd @ Twilight release party experienced a neighborhood-wide blackout, which could have been an event killer. For us, it became a testament to the strength of our youth. “The power is out on the block, but the power we need is in these youth and in each of you,” said BAYCAT Founder, Villy Wang.

BAYCAT’s youth first music album, 3rd at Twilight. 17 new tracks on social justice, displacement, election madness, Black Lives Matter, and more.

Make a Difference. Buy the Album to Support BAYCAT’s mission.

By purchasing their album, or gifting a tax-deductible donation, you make a difference by directly supporting BAYCAT’s mission to help low-income youth, young women and kids of color who have no access to the creative and digital fields. Together we can change the face of the media, have an impact on the messages we see and hear, and make a meaningful difference in the community.

That starts here. Buy 3rd @ Twilight today. Listen to their message. Share your favorite lyrics and songs. Change the world with their message.

Music album produced by BAYCAT youth

The cover of 3rd @ Twilight, first music album ever produced by BAYCAT youth.

Inside BAYCAT: Meet Alessandra Carter, Our Academy Manager

Getting to Know our Newest Team Member on Youth Education, Media + More

Meet Alessandra Carter, aka “Ms. C!”  An Oakland native, she recently returned to the Bay Area and brings a huge enthusiasm for youth, education and social justice.  Jumping right into the role of Academy Manager, she’s already on board leading our Academy for our first Summer Media Camp focusing on music.

Why the Bay Area? 

In late 2015, I was living in Harlem New York. I had been there for 6 years and decided that I wanted to return to the Bay. Now that I’m home, I look forward to contributing to the educational space, specifically educational program design and college access and career readiness efforts for low-income and underserved populations.

What made you want to work with youth?

I’ve been in the educational field for 6+ years. I enjoy their energy, honesty and am constantly inspired by their resiliency.

What is your favorite part of working with youth?

Building relationships and creating opportunities for them to learn more about career and college options.

Have you had and fun or memorable experiences with youth in your career so far?

I’ve had quite a few. While working at a start-up in Manhattan, NY, I managed a 6-week Computer Science and leadership intensive for Black and Latino boys. My work included recruiting the students, reviewing applications, planning exposure trips and supporting the lead Computer Science teacher. It was a whirlwind experience!

My favorite parts were getting to know the boys and taking them on the career exposure trips to awesome companies like Google.

What has working with youth taught you?

That students can be learners as well as teachers.

Why is youth media important?

Well, I think it’s important for two reasons.

1-  It’s important to empower the traditionally disempowered and disenfranchised because their experiences are valuable.

2- Youth media, especially in the current social and political climate, has value because they tell stories from a viewpoint that can be overlooked by adults.

What do you do when you’re not at BAYCAT?

Spend time with family, dabble in digital photography and (re)explore my hometown, Oakland.

Quickies:

Last book read? Soka Education, By Daisaku Ikeda.

On Your iPod? I’m more of a Spotify/Google Play kinda girl.

Jill Scott, Kendrick Lamar, Anita Baker, Anderson Paak and Frankie Beverly and Maze are usually in rotation 🙂

Favorite movie: That’s hard! Top 3: The Lion King, Sister Act and Steel Magnolias.

Favorite restaurant: I just moved back to the Bay. I don’t have a favorite just yet. Recommendations?

Favorite meal of all time: Southern style smothered chicken over rice and collard greens. Sweet potato pie and vanilla bean ice cream for dessert.

Why “Fund Passion. Not Prison.”

We’ve launched our year-end annual campaign: “Fund Passion. Not Prison.”

At BAYCAT we believe in the power of education through arts and tech as the best way to inspire our youth to stay in school, find their creative passions, and be lifelong learners.  For the past 11 years, BAYCAT has educated more than 3,250 low income kids, kids of color and young women. We need help from the community to keep our FREE educational arts and tech programs available to the youth who need them most.

The US has the highest incarceration rate of the developed world, and its prisons are overwhelmingly filled with African-Americans and Latinos. The paths to prison are many, but often the starting points are access to education and foster care systems.  Here in SF, the land of a growing gap of “Haves” and “Have Nots;” it matters what zip code you were born in, or if you were even born in this country. Add to that generations of inequality, quality of our schools, and access to technology, the stakes are against most of our low income youth, youth of color and young women to finish school, let alone to find their passion and a dream job.

You need some data?

  • 70% of students involved in “in-school arrests” or referred to law enforcement are African-Americans or Latinos.
  • 40% of students expelled from U.S. schools each year are African-Americans.
  • African-Americans and Latinos students are twice as likely to not graduate high school as Whites.

Below an Infographic with some staggering data.

digital equity

Source: Community Coalition

 

 

 

As mentioned in a previous blog post, prison and the juvenile system is also the topic chosen by our BAYCAT Academy students for their upcoming show Zoom In #34, that will be premiered on December 8, at Z Space in San Francisco. Don’t miss it.

What do you think? We’ll cover more this topic in the coming months and would love your opinion.

Grateful Thanksgiving

6 Things We’re Thankful For and Why You Should Be, Too!

As you’re getting on a plane, in a car, or busy prepping for your Thanksgiving celebration, here are 6 things we’re truly thankful for at BAYCAT that you can add to your list of things to be thankful for, too:

1. Our youth media producers’ creativity and inspiration. Seven films created by our youth media producers won 22 awards this year.

Doc shorts: #Activism, Stats of Life, This Is Me, Tangles

Music Videos: Take a Look at Yourself, Mood Swings, Reach for the Stars

2. Our employers who hired 88% of our graduates from the last 2 years. SF Giants Production, Lucas Film, Wired Magazine, the Golden State Warriors, HBO, Netflix, and others. You’ve given our interns, mainly young creatives of color and young women, dream jobs in the competitive fields of digital arts, broadcast and tech.

3. Our clients.  We love working with you, and also appreciate you for giving back by hiring our professional Studio.

4. All the stories we get to tell.

Special mentions: We’re grateful to tell 50 stories of 50 amazing Bay Area nonprofits in 50 weeks leading up to Super Bowl 50. THANK YOU 50 Fund for partnering with us and for being visionary in creating the most giving Super Bowl ever.  

Thanks also to all our nonprofit partners who make our community and The Bay Area stronger!

5. The best BAYCAT team, board and volunteers who make this happen each day.

6. All our donors!

We are very proud of what we have accomplished, and thankful for all the support. However, in order to continue to serve our community, we need your help and money. Therefore, we are launching today our year-end annual campaign: “Fund Passion. Not Prison.”

The goal of this campaign is to keep our youth’s free arts and tech programs alive. You can make a difference by donating before December 31, so that we will continue to help low income youth, young women and kids of color, who have no access to the creative and digital fields, to follow their passion and find the job of their dreams.

Click here to donate now.

Also check out the option to build your own page to help us reach the goal. You can do it as a team at your school, organization and company. Or it’s just a way to invite your friends, family and colleagues to pitch in.

This money will help us to educate and train 250 kids from the lowest opportunity neighborhoods of San Francisco and the Bay Area.  More importantly, it will give them a safe place where they’re able to express themselves, and where we can nurture their passion into a meaningful profession. This is a growth opportunity they can’t access anywhere else.

Your tax-deductible donation will help Jazzy and Hugo to continue to follow their passion and build a future. After all, we think the world would be a better place if everyone had the opportunity to follow their passion and find a job they love.

Happy Thanksgiving from the BAYCAT family!