BAYCAT in San Francisco helps connect young adults to job experiences through storytelling

When Villy Wang began her career as a Wall Street banker, she was surprised by the lack of representation and inclusion of different perspectives in media and was inspired to bring more diverse voices to the forefront.

Villy launched Bayview-Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology (BAYCAT) in 2004 in San Francisco, CA, with a focus on bringing more diversity to storytelling through film and media.

Today, BAYCAT provides storytelling opportunities through job development, internships and networking. BAYCAT graduates and employees gain career experience, as well as representation within the larger media environment. “BAYCAT gives me a lot of hope for the future of filmmaking,” says Studio intern Ryan Baker. “Art changes culture, and culture changes laws, and it changes how we see other human beings.”

BAYCAT was named a Bank of America Neighborhood Builders® award recipient in 2006. As a recipient, the organization received $200,000 in flexible grant funding, and leadership development and training for its executive director and an emerging leader in the organization. “The Neighborhood Builders award helped us reach more and more young people coming from low income communities, to let them know that this is possible and to say, ‘we care, your story matters,’” said Villy Wang, Founder, President & CEO of BAYCAT.

BAYCAT programs provide new opportunities for young adults. The BAYCAT Academy provides education and training for underserved Bay-area youth in digital media. The BAYCAT Studio is a media and marketing production company for socially minded organizations, staffed by media professionals and intern graduates. Since the organization launched, the program has supported more than 4,000 young people and kick-started more than 200 careers.

“I think when one grows up not seeing themselves represented, or having very negative stereotypes being perpetuated, it affects not only how you’re seen, but also how you develop. What we wanted to do at BAYCAT is change the stories that are out there, and the storytellers who get to tell them,” said Wang. Since its inception, BAYCAT’s Studio team has developed content for clients like the Golden State Warriors™, United Way™ and the National Park Services™. As a testament to the quality of work and training, BAYCAT graduates have gone on to win national and international awards including Emmys.

Since 2004, Bank of America's Neighborhood Builders program has helped advance sustainable communities by investing more than $220 million in 49 communities — partnering with more than 1,000 nonprofits and more than 2,000 nonprofit leaders and counting.

Learn more about how the Neighborhood Builders program helps nonprofit partners advance economic mobility and supports skills development for nonprofit leaders to build thriving communities.

Originally published 1/29/2019

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