A few days ago, I asked some of our young graduates what about BAYCAT they’re most proud of. The response that had me laughing? “That we still exist.” We turned 15 this October, which is a long time — especially for some of our students who haven’t even been alive 15 years!
It’s been surreal to watch the blossoming transformation of what was once a nascent business idea in my head, based on the belief that every person’s story matters and fueled by a gnawing fire in my gut, or what my mom called “sheer stupidity.” Quitting my stable job as a corporate lawyer to start BAYCAT... I guess you could say she had a point.
But looking back, I have no regrets for my sheer stupidity, only pride. I’m proud that we’ve educated more than 4,250 young people of color and young women… proud that we’ve launched more than 225 careers... and told over 1,000 stories for social change, making a major impact on San Francisco and the Bay Area.
We’ve created a sustainable business model that works to increase the representation of women and people of color in the media industry. How? We elevate underrepresented young people with digital media training and internships through BAYCAT Academy, and produce socially driven content for clients like the Golden State Warriors, the National Parks Service, Salesforce, Pixar, UCSF, and more through BAYCAT Studio, our professional arm.
And most importantly, we provide a pathway to employment for our young graduates, whether at BAYCAT Studio or in the broader industry. In fact, 82 percent of our intern graduates are hired by major media, entertainment, tech, advertising, or PR companies.
I think our impact can be summed up by graduate and three-time Emmy winner Iman Rodney who said, “I really can’t express how it feels to know that BAYCAT was there for me when I needed them most and they are the reason I am now a cinematographer at the SF Giants. They have been a huge part of my life and will continue to be so for the next 15 years, if not more since I plan on being one of their many success stories and a mentor for the next generation.”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all my years at BAYCAT it’s that media matters. And in today’s divisive climate, it probably matters even more than it did back when we started. Media shapes how we see the world. And we believe the world will be more beautiful when everyone can see themselves in it. Today, only 11.5 percent of advertising creative directors in the US are women. Only 12.6 percent of film directors are people of color. And that’s not OK.
The prospect of a more equitable future... that’s what drove us 15 years ago, and it’s what drives us now. Because the stories we create today will define who we are tomorrow.
A look at the impact we've made in our first 15 years.