Sacramento-based filmmakers Deon and Roxanne Taylor are expanding their philanthropic work into a new nonprofit venture called the C.L.I.M.B. Organization, which aims to help disadvantaged youths connect with resources and support.
CLIMB--which stands for community, learn, inspire, motivate, build--will roll the separate charitable ventures with which the Taylors have been involved into one nonprofit. The Taylors have spearheaded 500 Dinners for 500 Families, an event where single-parent families in Sacramento are provided with meals, for 12 years, and they have also sponsored camps for kids and a yearly mother’s day brunch.
CLIMB will be rooted in the Sacramento community, the couple said, but the Taylors expect the organization to eventually have a much wider reach. Deon will be involved with the nonprofit, but Roxanne is leading the effort and will be handling all the strategy and execution of CLIMB’s programs.
“I just thought it was time to really step up and be able to maximize on the funding that we would be able to get to provide the resources for the at-risk youth,” Roxanne Taylor said.
The Taylors split their time between Sacramento and L.A., where they run an independent film company, the Hidden Empire Film Group. Their latest is a psychological thriller called “The Intruder,” and it will debut in theaters nationwide May 3.
Sacramento has been an important part of the films the Taylors make, the couple said. They have filmed five movies in the city, including their 2018 film “Traffik” which was inspired by a letter the couple received about sex trafficking in the Sacramento area.
“It is a big deal that you’re shooting a movie like Traffik in Sacramento,” Deon said. “When the movie opens up, they see the new arena, they see downtown. I just love that. We drove through the city and we highlighted it.”
Traffik was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the “Outstanding Independent Motion Picture” Category. The Taylors announced their new nonprofit that same weekend at the Stellar Awards in Las Vegas on March 29.
The Taylors cited their own life stories as inspiration for their charitable work today. Roxanne overcame homelessness at a young age when she was forced to choose between living in the streets or living in a home where she was being molested. Deon’s mom packed up the family and moved out of Gary, Indiana to Sacramento to escape the gun violence prevalent in the community, he said.
Deon eventually went on to play professional basketball in Germany while Roxanne worked in computer science; when they both decided they wanted to break into the film industry, they had a hard time getting the help they needed to start making films.
“We did not know how to run a company, we did not know how to run a business,” Deon said. “So for us, part of that whole genetic makeup of who we are is to empower and help people and to pay it forward.”
The Taylors regularly bring students to their movie sets to learn about how movies get made, and they said this will continue to be an important component of CLIMB. They also plan to keep working with other organizations such as the Bobby Jackson Foundation, which as been involved with 500 Dinners for 500 Families from the beginning, according to the Taylors.
Deon and Roxanne said those who want to get involved can follow and reach out to them on social media, or can send then emails through the link on CLIMB’s website.