Published On: November 11, 2016 |

Presented with nation’s highest honor for creative youth development programs

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, November 11, 2016 – In a few days, Nicole Rivera, 18, of San Francisco, CA will achieve one of many dreams. She will be at the White House on November 15 to receive an award from First Lady Michelle Obama on behalf of Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC Media) Next Gen program, which was recognized for its effectiveness in promoting learning and life skills in young people by engaging them in creative youth development programs. The after-school program received the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation’s highest honor.

The award recognizes the country’s best after-school and out-of-school-time creative youth development programs for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to increase academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment. The 12 awardees—chosen from a pool of more than 251 nominations and 50 finalists—were also recognized for improving literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness.

The curriculum and the material that BAVC Media has created for youth has empowered me to really understand what the media sees me as and how they place us in these categories,” said Nicole. “It is so normalized and ingrained in youth minds that what we are digesting in the media is okay and appropriate. We don’t have these conversations outside of BAVC Media, and they really encourage us to start a dialogue and follow it up with action. My peers and I are producing small films and documentaries and even images of what truly encircles who we are and how we should be seen. Our voices matter more than ever in the Bay Area, so producing this content is vital.”

BAVC Media was founded in 1976 and will celebrate its 40th anniversary November 17. At its founding, BAVC Media’s mission was to serve creative media makers and give them access to tools that would help them share their own stories and those of their communities. BAVC Media’s mission today is to inspire social change by empowering media makers to create and share diverse stories through art, education, and technology. Since its founding, and since founding its Youth Program in 2005, BAVC Media has served thousands of individuals.

BAVC Media’s Next Gen program in the 2016-17 school year had three times as many applicants as it could accept into the program. Thanks to support from an anonymous foundation, BAVC Media has received a $50,000 matching grant that it will receive if it can raise an additional $50,000 from new donors by the end of 2016. With additional support BAVC Media plans to expand its programming in the 2017 academic year.

In an era when teenagers are considered a valuable target market, and in San Francisco, where diverse populations are being priced out of the city at an alarming rate, BAVC Media’s Next Gen program provides low-income teens from at-risk backgrounds with the media literacy and tech tools they need to be the creators of their own stories.

With access, autonomy, mentors, and a safe place to learn, every Next Gen program graduate leaves with a portfolio of work, college credit, and a paid social action internship working with a real-world client. Students choose from tracks in video production, audio production, coding and social media strategy and can return multiple years to gain more complex knowledge through deeper immersion.

This year, BAVC Media youth programs have engaged more than 100 young people in learning technology and new media, exposing them to industry and higher education, and offering them paid work experience as well as college credit. Last year, 99% of program participants, almost all of whom were from San Francisco public schools, went on to enroll in higher education.

“By engaging with young people, we are inspired. Their work always exceeds anything we could ever imagine. BAVC Media is providing Next Gen participants with the technical skills and the connections, as well as a belief in themselves – to understand and share their own stories to make a difference in their lives and the lives of their community.” said Carol Varney, BAVC Media Executive Director.

“Next Gen participants are learning how to use creative thinking, how to work as a team, to solve problems and to express themselves constructively. These are exactly the kinds of skills we want them to have to be able to succeed in school, in work and in life.”

In addition to the national recognition bestowed by receipt of the prestigious award, BAVC Media will also receive $10,000 to support its Next Gen programming and engage more young people from the community.

“We hope this award will draw attention to the documented fact that programs like ours are essential investments not just in the lives of our young people, but in our community, as well,” said Lauren Taylor, Senior Education Manager at BAVC Media.  “We’re incredibly proud of this achievement and of the young people, supporters, board and staff who made it possible.”

The National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the nation’s highest honor for after-school arts and humanities programs. The award recognizes and supports outstanding programs that lay new pathways to creativity, expression, and achievement outside of the regular school day. These programs excite and engage a range of students, cultivating imagination, collaboration, discipline, and academic success—with demonstrable results. They also provide safe harbors after school, on weekends, and during the evenings for children and youth in some of our country’s most at-risk urban and rural settings.

“These amazing programs prove how effective creative youth development can be in changing lives and communities,” said Megan Beyer, Executive Director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. “They’re improving academic achievement and contributing to high school graduation rates, and they’re providing the opportunity for young people to build the 21st-century skills they need to succeed in school and in life.”

Created in 1982 by Executive Order, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) is an advisory committee to the White House on cultural issues. The PCAH works directly with the administration and the three primary cultural agencies—the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)—as well as with other federal partners and the private sector, to address policy questions in the arts and humanities, to initiate and support key programs in those disciplines, and to recognize excellence in the field. Its core areas of focus are arts and humanities education, cultural exchange, and community revitalization. Mrs. Obama, like other first ladies before her, serves as Honorary Chairman of the committee, which comprises both private and public members.

First presented in 1998, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). The awards are presented annually in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

For more information about BAVC Media Next Gen programs, please visit For more information about the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards, visit



Photos and photo captions from the White House ceremony will be available for download via Flickr by 7 pm ET on November 15, 2016. To access the photo album (organized by awardee name), use this link: