A Season of Thanks

On this #givingtuesday, BAYCAT is thankful for so many things: our friends and supporters, our youth and young adults, and the companies who give back to our community.

We are fortunate to have many supporters, and wish we had room to name them all here! Organizations and foundations like Pixar Animation Studios, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the San Francisco Foundation, the Kimball Foundation, and Union Bank have been generous sponsors and strong advocates for BAYCAT this year, and we wanted to take a moment to mention them by name. Thank you!

Donate today and join the family!

Embracing this spirit of gratitude, our youth wanted to tell you how your donations give them opportunities to give thanks.   

Viggo, 15

“I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to film a documentary about Virtual Reality.”

D’Arion, 17

“I am thankful for BAYCAT and the staff for allowing me to express my creativity through cinema, and helping me pursue my dreams.”

Brianna, 13

“I am thankful for my family for letting me come to BAYCAT.”

Akil, 13

“I am thankful for BAYCAT because BAYCAT has taught me more about stuff I love, which is film.”

Joshua, 12

“I am thankful for my mom and dad because they provide, and what BAYCAT provides for free!”

Yaneli, 13

“I am thankful for making new friends at BAYCAT, and learning how and what film class is, and how to use the camera properly.”

Tyson, 12

“I am thankful for being accepted into this program and what I have learned so far.”


Thank YOU for being a part of the BAYCAT family!!!

Media Classes Are Back in Session!

Fall Academy

Find Out How You Can Take Part

BAYCAT students are back in the house! Class sessions have started at BAYCAT, with two new instructors heading up our documentary and graphics art tracks this semester. Media Producer and Mentor, Carla Orendorff, will lead the documentary film classes for beginning and advanced students along with Graphic Arts Instructor, Amber Yada. Fun fact: Amber is actually a returning instructor, first working with BAYCAT youth 2009-2010, before leaving to start a family. We’re happy to have her back!

Students are hard at work learning about DSLR cameras and lenses, critically thinking about media and message, plus brainstorming around this semester’s theme: Media Representation Matters. BAYCAT youth are already diving into developing their ideas for the kind of digital media projects they want to create, and we can’t wait to see their visions on the big screen.

Not to be outdone, BAYCAT’s Studio Internship is also back in session, starting in mid-September, with a new cohort made up of 10 young adults (6 women, 4 men). For 14 weeks, they are being coached, trained, and mentored by our professional BAYCAT Studio staff and fantastic volunteer mentors. Internship-specific partnerships with the SF Public Utilities Commission will provide opportunities for our interns to create video shorts to benefit the community.

Interesting fact: We took a baseline survey with our current intern cohort, and found that while 60% have a bachelor’s degree, less than 50% feel that they are ready to work in the media industry today. We’re going to catapult that number towards 100% by the end of our time together!

If you’re as inspired by our work as we are, contact us to find out how you can volunteer, donate or hire our studio!

BAYCAT CEO Honored With Jefferson Award

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.


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!

Urban Youth Discover Nature in Their Own City

Workshop Part of 100 Years of Arts in the Parks

Working with the U.S. National Park Service and the Crissy Field Center’s Urban Trail Blazers program, BAYCAT helped youth connect to nature in their own back yard, with the opportunity to be inspired to create artwork from it in an outdoor photography workshop, learning to use DSLR cameras.

Woodline 1The workshop was created with BAYCAT STUDIO so that we could also document the youths’ experience at the Woodline in the Presidio for the U.S. National Park Service video series that we’re creating to celebrate 100 years of arts in the parks. BAYCAT wants to encourage other urban youth and families to get out and explore the wonders of their parks, as well as to create their own art in them.

Students were able to learn digital photography techniques, including lessons on understanding perspective, and how to photograph a subject. Here are some of our favorite shots. Hopefully you’ll be inspired to seek out some of the beautiful sights just outside our doors.

Thank you to the Urban Trail Blazers team, and our BAYCAT student volunteers who helped us teach other youth during the workshop.

Perspective Photography

Perspective - Photo by Moona

Perspective – Photo by Moona


Perspective – Photo by Stephanie

Perspective - Photo by Chastity

Perspective – Photo by Chastity

Perspective - Photo by Samaa

Perspective – Photo by Samaa

Perspective - Photo by Nickie

Perspective – Photo by Nickie

Perspective - Photo by James

Perspective – Photo by James

Perspective - Photo by Dylan

Perspective – Photo by Dylan

Perspective - Photo by Noah

Perspective – Photo by Noah

Perspective - Photo by Amy

Perspective – Photo by Amy

Perspective - Photo by Matthew

Perspective – Photo by Matthew

Subject Photography

Subject Photography - Photo by Chastity

Subject Photography – Photo by Chastity

Subject Photography - Photo by James

Subject Photography – Photo by James

Subject Photography - Photo by Amy

Subject Photography – Photo by Amy

Subject Photography - Photo by Dylan

Subject Photography – Photo by Dylan

Subject Photography - Photo by Nickie

Subject Photography – Photo by Nickie

Subject Photography - Photo by Samaa

Subject Photography – Photo by Samaa

Subject Photography - Photo by Moona

Subject Photography – Photo by Moona

Subject Photography – Photo by Matthew

Support BAYCAT as You Shop This Holiday Season

Check a few things off your holiday shopping list & help BAYCAT at the same time: Shop Spicer on 3rd or Amazon Smile

Score some locally-made goods from SF artists as gifts for family or friends (or yourself!) and support youth education in arts and tech at the same time. Our Twenty Seven Gears Belt Bucklesfriends at Spicer on 3rd are donating 10% of all purchases you make THIS Thursday, November 19th, from 5 – 8pm to BAYCAT. Come by for great-for-everyone gifts like PapaLlama‘s smile-inducing, hand-printed cards and prints, or awesome Twenty Seven Gears lasercut belt buckles, jewelry and accessories. And be sure to grab a free bite of the spreads and jams by the girl & the fig, or a complimentary beverage. We hope to see you there!

Can’t make it Thursday? Prefer shopping in your pajamas? Supporting BAYCAT is as simple as a one-time update to your Amazon account settings. The AmazonSmile Foundation makes it easy to support your favorite charities – without costing you a cent. Whenever you shop on AmazonSmile and purchase an item marked, “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation,” the foundation contributes 0.5% of your purchase price to the organization of your choice. (It really adds up!)

Shop AmazonSmileGo to smile.amazon.com and under “pick your own charitable organization,” select “BAYCAT.”  With a few clicks, start empowering youth today! (Just be sure to always shop through smile.amazon.com, not the regular site.)

Amazon-shopping not your thing? You can still support BAYCAT by donating today and following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and sharing our content!


BAYCAT Youth Learn From the Pros at Sandbox Studio

Amid a jam-packed Summer Media Camp schedule, one of the best things are the amazing field trips. Youth get to tour the offices of digital media companies, seeing how and what working professionals are doing in the field. Visiting community partner Sandbox Studio, a national BAYCAT Youth Media Producers Angela and Zevonteproducer of visual content for retail advertising and eCommerce, BAYCAT’s youth media producers heard about a different use for the cameras they normally use to create films and music videos.

Only a short walk away from BAYCAT in the Dogpatch, Harrison Budd, Digital Services and EQ Supervisor at Sandbox Studio’s San Francisco office, gave the youth an overview of what a digital photography studio does, even giving them a quick studio session for some hands on learning.

“It was really amazing! I liked the still life photos, and seeing how how the camera works in a studio,” said Lucrezia Berry, 13, a first time Zoom In producer.

She, along with 25 of our youth, were hosted by Budd, who spoke about the different types of projects, and how lighting and post-production needs differ for still photography vs. film. He also stopped at one shoot to introduce the students to the creative director and digital photographer, who explained their roles and what they do. The tour gave the youth perspective on what they’re learning at BAYCAT, and how it parallels the professionals at Sandbox Studios.Sandbox Studio Tour

“I learned how much work it takes to do a whole photo shoot,” said Jevani Mclean, 13, “And how much you need to learn in school to be able to do this stuff.”

“The crew at Sandbox Studios had such a great time meeting the [BAYCAT] kids and showing them around our studio! They were very interested in learning about what we do and how we do it. They came prepared to learn and asked a lot of great questions,” said Budd. “I wish them all the best in all their future endeavors.”

Warriors Sweep SF with Community Spirit

There is no denying the Warriors are HOT — and the wins keep coming as the team prepares to become BAYCAT’s neighbor to Bayview Hunters Point! The sports team is already making a full-court press to show their commitment to the community.

BAYCAT was invited to tell the stories of 4 community based organizations as part of the team’s Taste of the Warriors event, a food and wine festival exclusively for their Season Ticket Holders. The annual event reached out to BVHP and mission-based nonprofits La Cocina, Old Skool Cafe, Young Community Developers, and BAYCAT to cater, staff, and film the event respectively. (The video will premiere at our Open House this Thursday— join us to see a Taste of the Warriors.)

That isn’t the only way the Warriors are reaching out to our community.

Warriors Youth Media DayTwo BAYCAT youth were part of an exclusive group of 6 young people invited to interview Warriors players Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green as part of the team’s Youth Media Day. Youth media producers Nailah Reynolds, age 11, and James Parker Pennington, age 13,  interviewed the players, asking about overcoming obstacles, and if they always knew they’d make it to the NBA.

The experience was a great one for Nailah, who got to practice her interview technique on Draymond Green. But her favorite part was being close to her favorite player, who was practicing on the court while the youth were conducting the interviews.

“Most of my pictures are of Stephen Curry,” she said with a laugh.

Adventures in Photography: Building Media Literacy

Youth Explore Media Literacy through Photography

Media Literacy: PhotoVoice Session 1BAYCAT has just concluded a 5-week partnership with PhotoVoice, a UK-based nonprofit that believes in the power of letting marginalized voice be heard through photography. At BAYCAT we believe every story matters. So when we heard about PhotoVoice’s vision for a world in which no one is denied the opportunity to speak out and be heard, we jumped at the opportunity to work together.

BAYCAT Academy youth took pictures off-site on their own devices, then during class analyzed the photos as a group, looking at what does each photo mean in a bigger context. This exercise helped youth deepen their media literacy through discussion of things like a photos meaning and how it was framed, building their understand how to read a photograph.

PhotoVoice volunteers, Neeti Doshi and Vivian Sun, facilitated guided conversations, combining photography with grassroots social action, asking participants to represent their community or express their point of view through photography. These photographs were brought before the group attempting to study the community, who developed a narrative for each photo in an attempt to better understand the community.

Doshi and Sun are also UCSF pediatric residents who noticed the similarity of mission when they came to BAYCAT on a class tour. The pair want to use the resulting art and discussion as a research tool to catalyze more holistic treatment of patients, and suggested the partnership.

The first week’s topic was Technology and Transportation. Of course, the BAYCAT youth really honed in on the technology part of the assignment. One photo selected for discussion compared a real book to its digital counterpart (pictured left). The student used lighting to frame what was most important, with the digital version drawing the eye, leaving the hard copy unlit and unimportant.

Take a look at our youth’s photographic journey on our Instagram.

Every Story Matters: BAYCAT’s Impact Goes Beyond Making Media

You never know what event will change your life, forever. For Stella, that was walking through the doors at BAYCAT. Like many teens, Stella would head home after school and watch TV, but never imagined being the storyteller. BAYCAT was able to show her something different.

baycat youth, media production

For Stella, learning storytelling at BAYCAT was a bridge to understanding her own journey.

Over the last three years at BAYCAT, Stella has found her voice through filmmaking and the digital media arts. Learning to tell the stories of others helped Stella understand her own journey: learning to manage her OCD. Exploring the topic through media gave her the courage to share her struggle with her parents, and an autobiographical documentary short Stella wrote and directed will be premiered in Zoom In 31: State of Our Minds on December 4th. Through her film, Stella wants other young people to know that they are not alone, and that there is always hope.

Supporting BAYCAT isn’t just about making a donation, but it is about making a difference in the lives of young people. Stories like Stella’s can’t be told without your help. We hope you join us in our mission to ensure that every kid left out by the digital divide has the opportunity to find their voice at BAYCAT.

Come in person to applaud and to meet Stella, or bring other youth who would be inspired by her story! And if you can’t make it in person, you can still join us via our online livestream of the show!

For more stories on youth like Stella, SIGN UP NOW to subscribe to our e-newsletter. You can stay up to date on all of our new projects, partners, student stories, and programs.