Avoid the Back to School Rush + Support Diversity

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


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.


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.

Share #SupportBAYCAT and Win Odysseo by Cavalia tickets!

Win free VIP tickets to Odysseo, the amazing new Cavalia show in San Francisco!

(No horseback experience required.) Donate and you will have even more chances to win!

Want to see Odysseo, the $30 million mega-show made by the creators of the fantastical show Cavalia? Now is the time.

Thanks to our friends at ABC7 News, we have three pairs of VIP tickets ($529 per pair) to be won by you.  Just repost the Fund Passion. Not Prison. image to Twitter, Instagram or BAYCAT Facebook Page Timeline with the words

“I want to see Odysseo in SF!” and the hashtag #SupportBAYCAT


Repost this image to Twitter, Instagram or BAYCAT Facebook Page Timeline with the words “I want to see Odysseo in SF!” and the hashtag #SupportBAYCAT — and you could win free VIP tickets to see Odysseo, a value over $500 per pair! Want to multiply your chances to win? We’ll double your chances for every $50 donated to BAYCAT!

VIP Tickets

The best of Cavalia before, during and after the show on December 19, 2015 at 2pm. Let us set the stage for an unforgettable experience.

– Center-row seats
– VIP pass
– Buffet with a wide variety of complimentary food served before the show
– Wine, bubbly and beer at will
– Dessert buffet, coffee and tea served during intermission
– Exclusive stable tour after the show
– Odysseo souvenir from the show boutique

Step-by-step instructions for entering:

  1. Save the photo of our Fund Passion. Not Prison. campaign above.
  2. Upload it to Twitter or Instagram or post it directly onto our BAYCAT Facebook Page with the words “I want to see Odysseo in SF!” with the hashtag #SupportBAYCAT
  3. Feeling lazy? Just RT or share someone else’s post.
  4. That’s it. You’ve got until midnight on Monday, December 14, 2015 to enter and to donate for more chances.

The Rules 

We’ll collect all entries that use the hashtag and choose three lucky winners at random, who’ll receive a pair of VIP tickets to watch Odysseo on Saturday, December 19 at 2PM in Lot 10 at San Francisco.

  • The contest will end at 11.59 pm on Monday, December 14, 2015. You must enter by this deadline with your photo and caption uploaded.
  • The winner will be announced on our BAYCAT Facebook Page, Twitter account and Instagram account on Tuesday, December 15, 2015.
  • You can only enter once for each channel: Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
  • When donating at donate.baycat.org, please make sure you include your social media handle that matches the one used in your post.
  • The winners will be chosen at random. Each winner will receive a pair of VIP tickets for Odysseo by Cavalia. The performance is December 19, 2015 at 2 pm at Lot 10 in San Francisco. (total value: more than $500 per pair.)
  • You must be 21 years or older to participate, and employees of BAYCAT are not eligible to enter.
  • This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and by entering you release Twitter, Instagram and Facebook from any and all liability associated with this contest.
  • Winner will be contacted via his or her method of entry. They will be responsible to pick up the tickets at BAYCAT in San Francisco.

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.

BAYCAT Youth Win Awards Around Digital Equity

No matter the age of the competition, BAYCAT’s youth media producers continue to shine, and inspire, at local film festivals

BAYCAT Winners at RYSEIt was a clean sweep for three films submitted to “Truth Be Told: Justice Through My Eyes,” winning 4 awards at RYSE Youth Center’s first-ever film festival. Open to ages 13-24, our youth media producers won 3 of 4 categories open to ages 13-18, as well as the overall fan favorite at the social justice-themed event! Students won for Best Documentary (#Activism) co-directed and edited by Bella Vallero and Miguel Rivera, Best Music Video (Take A Look at Yourself) produced & written by Alex El Titerito, Amir Chatman, Isaiah Manuel, Jordan Stultz, and Best Experimental Video (This is Me), a solo project by Alex El Titerito. Take a Look at Yourself also won the Audience Award.

Director Becky Choi also won 1st Place in the Student/Mentor Music Video Category of the 2015 MY HERO International Film Festival for her guidance in Take a Look at Yourself! The festival will be held later this November in Santa Monica.

Stella in at Locally Grown Docs Q&ABAYCAT Youth Media Producers Stella (director) and Hugo (cinematographer) represented BAYCAT for the Locally Grown Docs showcase at The New Parkway, where their film Tangles screened among a number of other inspiring shorts. Of the 6 films screened, Tangles was 1 of only 2 youth pieces invited to be shown. Congrats to our young filmmakers!

Stella took the mic for a great Q&A session after the screening that left people buzzing about her film. “More people wanted to talk to Stella after [she] had to go, so she definitely made an impression!,” according to event organizers.

If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to catch Tangles, a personal portrait of life with trichotillomania, on our YouTube channel. And don’t miss Hugo’s amazing piece on the fight to be more than a statistic in The Stats of Life.

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!

“Hard Times” – New Youth Music Explores Incarceration, Discrimination

Song to be a featured part of Zoom In: Episode 34 – Is This Justice?, examining juvenile justice, incarceration, and the role of community

This semester, four Bay Area youth in BAYCAT’s Music Production class wrote, performed and produced this song as part of a bigger piece exploring incarceration in the US from a youth perspective, to be released later this month. They were mentored through the process by Jason “Trackademicks” Valerio. The song is a reaction to recent attention on violence against young people of color in this country. Hear the song and read the lyrics below.

If you’re in the Bay Area, you can see the premiere of the entire piece, including the music video for this song, at the World Premiere of Zoom In: Episode 34 – Is This Justice? on December 8th at Z Space in San Francisco.

Youth Explore Hard Times


FALL 2015

“Hard Times” feat. Angela, Amir, Zevonte, & Isaiah (Palindrome).
Produced by Palindrome


I wear hoodies when I want, I eat Skittles when I want
I can breathe when I want, I can breathe, I can breathe

Verse 1
Have you heard of a kid with the mindset of a grown up, well sho ‘nuff,
I’m livin’ proof, so upchuck. I’ve thought of things that you need and about things like why do I breathe
To see another one of me get thrown in jail or left to bleed? (You see?)
I’m giving you food for thought so feast, At least
I’m not one of the peeps who stuck fighting a war that’s worth a penny
Have you seen these cops? They like wild packs of dogs
Killing anything that’s brown and walk
It’s been kept a secret
But now we see it, but now is the hard part

In these hard times, you have to know that it’s gon’ be all right
And even when things go wrong, you have to know to just stay strong

Post Chorus
I wear hoodies when I want, I eat Skittles when I want
I can breathe when I want, I can breathe, I can breathe

Verse 2
I ain’t playing these games, ain’t playing these games
Discrimination and hate they all feel the same
Get some money in your pocket and the whole game change
Stop putting down, ever thought that for a change?
Cause I do what I do, never stop it for what
Typing on a computer acting hard because
You can’t see the real me being fake for what
I think that’s crazy swearing up and down that you a thug
Like its so F.A.K.E. — fake
Barbie and Ken on aisle 8 I live on the block that never changed
I got my pride can you say the same?

In these hard times, you have to know that it’s gon be all right
And even when things go wrong, you have to know to just stay strong

Verse 3
Do not take me to jail, I don’t know nothing
I just wanna a good life to be worth something
Help me please, help me please, I can not breathe
Shoot me down or bring me up, it won’t phase me
21st up next, you know we is the best
You gave me life cause I’m young and I made a lil’ wreck
Get it, that’s young and reckless, I’m in my zone so please respect it
I got hit with a baton, why don’t you get it
Boom boom bang bang making videos
Said 1 min but it was 11 yo, oh oh
Heart full of gold, dead on the streets 4 hours really yo
Y’all real crazy fire shots
Dat don’t amaze me
Reppin’ 21st and this record
And y’all squad going crazy
Palindrome on this beat, no guns no clips
So much heat, more danger than my scripts

Jason helps Nailah find her sound.

Alex works on his beats.

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!