Arts & Education

“I want to do good. I want the world to be better because I was here. I want my life, I want my work, my family, I want it to mean something. If you are not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other lives better.”

Will Smith


Education Cannot Wait

In September 2018, Will’s historic charity bungee jump over the Grand Canyon, inspired $240 million in donor commitments to WJSFF’s education partner – Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the global fund for children in education emergencies. Since The Jump, WJSFF has continued to support Global Citizen’s efforts to help ECW raise $1.8 billion by 2021 to reach 9 million children and youth across the globe.

Will celebrated the one-year anniversary of The Jump by recording a call to action video encouraging global leaders, businesses and individuals to pledge their support to ECW’s goal. The video aired at a meeting of world leaders on Will’s birthday at a United Nations General Assembly Week ECW gathering and at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park.

As of September 2019, Will’s commitment to empowering and educating the next generation has cumulatively inspired over $560 million in donor commitments to ECW’s mission.

Will’s second call to action for children’s education during the 2019
United Nations General Assembly Week and Global Citizen Festival
in Central Park cumulatively inspired over


since 2018 in donor commitments for Education Cannot Wait.


Black Girls Code x Rotary Boys

Technology enhances every aspect of our world, including the art of storytelling. To further encourage innovation in art and technology, Will and Gemini Man director Ang Lee spoke with tech innovators including the “tech divas” of Black Girls Code about the future of art and technical innovation at TechCrunch Disrupt.

Through a partnership with Microsoft, they raised more than $38,000 for Girls Who Code, a program whose mission is to close the gender gap in technology.

Will also hosted a $10,0000 tech pitch contest to inspire and spotlight young entrepreneurs at TechCrunch Disrupt SF.


WJSFF invested in the future of


young and diverse storytellers
at the Sundance Screenwriter’s Intensive

WJSFF provided $35,000 in scholarships for


students at NYU Tisch School
of the Arts Summer High School

Trey raised $40,000 from Xbox Forza Challenge and donated it to CIE—that’s enough to support 8 internships amongst the


aspiring entertainment
leaders at CIE

WJSFF sponsored the 2nd Annual Young Women in Film program for


Los Angeles high schoolers


diverse women were sponsored
through AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women

American Film Institute (AFI)

AFI and WJSFF passionately use their platforms to develop the next generation of diverse storytellers:

  • Jada became an AFI board member to further elevate women in entertainment
  • WJSFF sponsored the 2nd Annual Young Women in Film program for 45 Los Angeles high schoolers who were trained in pitching, screenwriting, producing, directing, cinematography, production design, and editing.
  • WJSFF also sponsored ten filmmakers during AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women WJSFF strongly encouraged AFI to include more women of color, which resulted in a 21% increase in American scholarship recipients of color and a 9% increase in Fellows of color

“I have been taught to have a vision of my own, and to work hard in bringing that vision to life.”



Minhal Baig, a Pakistani female writer and director, developed Hala, a film about a seventeen-year-old Pakistani American teenager played by Geraldine Viswanathan and her struggle to balance desire with her familial, cultural and religious obligations. As she comes into her own, she grapples with a secret that threatens to unravel her family. Furthering our commitment to increasing diversity and inclusion in the industry, WJSFF, in partnership with the Sundance Screenwriter Intensive, applied the inclusion rider policy to this film’s production by hiring women and diverse people for below-the-line roles. Hala was the debut feature film for the launch of Apple TV+.


Writer and director B.Monét is an alumnus of the AFI Directing Women Workshop (DWW) and a recipient of a WJSFF grant for her film, Ballet After Dark, which focuses on the role that the arts can play in helping people heal from personal trauma. We are excited that our commitment to diverse voices propelled B.Monét to become the first black female director of a Cadillac commercial.


WJSFF invested in the future of 11 young and diverse story-tellers, preparing them to create new films rooted in fresh ideas and distinctive perspectives that have historically been underrepresented through Sundance’s Screenwriters Intensive program.


We also drove positive change in Jamaica, by employing locals for the production of the award nominated film, Sprinter. The film tells the story of a Jamaican teen who uses track and field to escape poverty and a troubled home life, through a partnership between FilmRise, Citi and Global Citizen. Sprinter was nominated for the Africa Movie Academy Award for Best Diaspora Feature.

Just Another Girl from the IRT Restoration

WJSFF provided a $50,000 grant to the Sundance Institute Archives & Collection to restore and create an HD 4k scan of the film Just Another Girl from the IRT, one of the first coming-of-age films to center on a young black woman’s experience void of stereotypes, which still resonates with audiences over 27 years later. WJSFF is honored to help diverse filmmakers properly screen their work and ensure the long-term preservation of independent films, which are often at greater risk of being lost or forgotten.

NYU Tisch School of the Arts Summer High School and Fusion Film Festival

WJSFF provided $35,000 in scholarships for high school students who would otherwise be unable to attend the prestigious NYU Tisch Summer High School Program. During the four-week program, the students committed to intensive instruction in filmmaking and entertainment career paths.


Trey lent his voice to bring awareness of the uniting nature of gaming at Alienware’s “The Impact of Pop Culture on Gaming” panel. During the panel, Trey and other industry professionals discussed the stigmas of modern gaming and its impact on culture.

Forza Challenge

Trey transformed his love of gaming into an opportunity for Careers In Entertainment (CIE). He raised $40,000 during his simulated car race as Willow cheered him on.

Debbie Allen Dance Academy

WJSFF continued to help aspiring young dancers across Los Angeles pursue their dreams, and reinforce the life principles of discipline, creativity, and self-confidence through their dance practice.

The Lupus Foundation of America

Ms. Karen Evans, former Board Chair of the Lupus Foundation of America, continued her local commumity advocacy and stewardship with awarding grants to the Associated Black Charities of Maryland and the Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Foundation.

Ongoing Collaboration:

Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation

Over the past three years, the Will & Jada Smith Family Foundation has provided crucial funding for our Outreach and Inclusion Program and underwritten Sundance Institute’s annual Screenwriters Intensive. Taking place each spring, the Screenwriters Intensive is designed to introduce the industry to a group of emerging storytellers from traditionally overlooked communities developing their first fiction feature. Notable alumni who have come through this program include Andrew Ahn, Reinaldo Marcus Green, Tina Mabry, Natalia Almada, and Roger Ross Williams. In addition to participating in a two-day workshop under the guidance of experienced creative advisors, each Fellow receives an unrestricted cash grant to help them advance their projects.