Harness Hope Not Hate: BAYCAT’s Response

Four days before the fatal deaths and tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, 24 of BAYCAT’s young filmmakers, ages 11-16, put themselves on the line in a nonviolent and expressive way on the stage of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema here in San Francisco. Building together a series of short films and animations on the theme of innovation, they premiered to the world, their stories and inventions to inspire us to rethink the social issues that they grow up with every single day: gun violence, racism, gender inequality, gentrification, immigration, incarceration, and the need for safe spaces– while sprinkling the show with their sense of humor with things like an indestructible juice box.

Then Heather Heyer made the news, along with others who lost their lives or were injured by putting themselves on the line. Even more disheartening to witness throughout this week of tweets and headlines is the growing hate, fear and anxiety, and for me personally, the lack of moral leadership from the President.

“I want you, the audience, to reflect on how you can make a change to help social injustices through innovation. I believe you out there can be part of the social innovation that is now occurring, and that you can be the change you want to see.” – Jamahl Edwards, 14, Award-Winning Youth Media Producer

Rather than dividing our communities, our government and business leaders, it is the wisdom of BAYCAT’s teenagers I would rather follow. Working with our youth every day and watching these films reminds me that “out of the mouths of babes,” these youth, our own kids are urging us to INNOVATE. We need a new way to talk to each other. To work with each other. To be with each other. To share who we are, what we value, what we are afraid of, and what our dreams are. Safely.

Jamahl also said to the live audience during the premiere, I don’t want to be a statistic. We don’t want you to be either.  Not one of those stereotypical ones, where young African-American teenagers are destined for jail or the streets.

Last year in my TED Talk, I confronted one of my deepest fears, my own racism. Part of my healing journey was to start a business to end racism and social inequality, one untold story at a time.

If you are like us, and want to rewrite America’s narrative, or help us to build our safe space that allows  young people to fully express themselves and to innovate new ways we can work together, then join our community. Join the conversation. Watch their work below. Comment. Tell them you believe in them. Share. Invest.



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!

BAYCAT with The San Francisco Foundation Artistic Hub Organizations

It’s a real honor to be part of a cohort of some of the most respected artistic hubs of the Bay Area! We had a great discussion with Maria Rosario Jackson about the trends she has seen and written about arts, culture and social justice at the national level. Though these topics naturally go together in our everyday worlds as an arts nonprofit in the Bay, it seems there is a trend at a national level to infuse placemaking, new urbanism, various medical research and even transportation as part of this sector’s work.

It was clear from our dialogue that most organizations do so much more than what their descriptions or missions reflect, and that each Executive Director’s impact goes far beyond their typical job descriptions. So what does this all mean?

It truly does take people with great resiliency to stay on the roller coaster ride of running a nonprofit, and funders like The San Francisco Foundation create the safety bars and connectors between our carts. They gave us something we never get to do: time and space to rise above the details and with hands raised together as a cohort, to look toward the future.

#Selfie includes:  Steven Jones from Lorraine Hansberry Theatre;  Madeleine Lim from QWOCMAP; Cristy Johnston-Limon from Destiny Arts; Tere Romo from The San Francisco Foundation; Tomiko Wong from Oakland Asian Cultural Center

Our cohort also includes: Ani Rivera from Galeria de la Raza; Elena Serrano from EastSide Arts Alliance; Eugene Rodriguez from Los Cenzontles Cultural Arts Academy; James Kass from Youth Speaks, Janette Gitler from Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet ; Jordan Simmons from East Bay Center for Performing Arts; Kristen Sbrogna from La Pena;  Latanya Tigner from Dimensions Dance Theater, Linda Harrison from MOAD, Mabel Teng from Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco.


Villy Wang: 2012 Winner of the Community Service Learning Community Partner Award

San Francisco State University’s Institute for Civic and Community Engagement (ICCE) just awarded BAYCAT President & CEO Villy Wang with its 2012 Community Service Learning Award!

An award is given annually to one community partner each spring to honor the outstanding work community partners have had, not only on students learning, but on faculty’s awareness of community needs. Winners receive a gift certificate for $250 and an award certificate at the annual CSL “Awards for Excellence” event in April. Nominations are accepted each fall.

Villy Wang This year’s Community Partner honoree is Villy Wang, President and CEO of BAYCAT: the Bayview Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology, a nonprofit community media producer that offers free classes, internships, and employment to underserved youth and adults in digital media arts and design. Through project-based learning and access to the latest digital technology, students are able to learn professional media applications while discovering their innate artistic abilities. With an undergraduate degree in Engineering and Economics from Brown University, and a JD from Northwestern, Villy brings a unique 20-year background in education, arts programming, nonprofit business and law to BAYCAT that inspires students to tell their transformative stories to others and in thus doing, empower themselves as lifelong learners. She has been a tireless supporter of SF State’s Department of Design and Industry and its community service learning program, where students gain an understanding of the historical, social, economic, and political factors of community art and positive change through social enterprise.

Learn more about ICCE here.

Interview with Villy Wang in SF Examiner

A great interview on the issue of “Cause Marketing” with BAYCAT CEO Villy Wang by Bruce Burtch in the Examiner:

Villy WangBB: Do you feel that in nonprofit/for-profit relationhips, what goes around comes around?

VW: Yes. It’s not just in my life, it’s the life of the whole entire team and who we serve, and if corporations don’t understand that, then they are missing a soul someplace. They’re missing that our viability and the viability of the communities we serve is ultimately going to affect them, especially in this kind of environment in San Francisco where the nonprofit business world is giant. We are an ample part of the economy. People from the nonprofit point of view should also articulate that and really argue this as a business argument.  Look at us as business partners not as a charity, our viability is just as important as yours.  I feel if we could really make that point, businesses will take us more seriously as well.

Happy Birthday Villy

Happy Birthday to our favorite President & CEO!

Villy Wang discusses BAYCAT “My Moment” Campaign on KPIX Bay Sunday!

Tracy Humphrey interviews BAYCAT CEO and President Villy Wang about My Moment/Our Movement on KPIX Bay Sunday!