From the IMPACT Archives October 2014
By David Ongchoco
On October 23, 2014, Penn alumni and Jubilee Project Co-founder Jason Y. Lee returned to Penn to talk about the Jubilee Project and for an exclusive pre-screening of Jubilee Project’s latest documentary, “Save My Seoul,” which hopes to inform people about the sex-trafficking situation in Korea. This documentary is only one of multiple Jubilee Project videos that have aimed to not only inform but to also inspire people to take action.
It 2010 the then Penn student Jason Y. Lee’s life changed forever. It wasn’t only his 22nd birthday but also the day the devastating Haiti earthquake struck. That was the day the seeds of Jubilee Project were planted.
Frustrated by the fact that he didn’t have enough money to really help out, Jason decided to do something really bold; he, along with his friends, decided to wait in a New York subway station to raise donations for the victims of the Haiti earthquake. Although they felt $30 short of their $100 goal, the video they created about the experience became viral, and ended up helping them raise over $700. That’s when Jason realized the power of media to do good.
After Jason graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in finance and management from Wharton, he, along with his brother Eddie and close friend Eric, decided to start the Jubilee Project. The non-profit was named after the year of celebration in the Bible.
The mission of the Jubilee Project was to produce short videos and documentaries with the goal of inspiring people to do good by raising awareness and fundraising for social-impact organizations. The videos feature ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The trio spent all their free time and weekends away from their jobs working on Jubilee Project videos, and going around the country for events and screenings.
Eventually Jubilee Project had expanded to the point where Jason, Eddie and Eric had to make the decision whether or not to pursue it full time. Jason was in his 3rd year at Bain & Company while Eddie was working in the White House and Eric was finishing his studies at the Harvard Medical School. After thinking about what truly mattered to them, the trio decided to quit.
Jason stated, “I wanted to do something more interesting in my life. It was this idea that I could use my life to encourage young people to do something much greater than themselves, to become young change-makers.”
Jason’s favorite video is called, “Love Language” which was a really simple film that they shot 3 years ago to help raise support and awareness for the American Society for Deaf Children. The Love Langauge video has more than a million views, and is a perfect example of a Jubilee Project video— simple, emotional and inspiring.
The Jubilee Project has captured the hearts of audiences of people from all over the world. However, this is only the start. To date, the Jubilee Project has produced over 100 videos with over 8 million views, and has partnered with organizations like the Jeremy Lin Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association, American Society for Deaf Children, and many more.
When asked where the inspiration for most storylines of Jubilee Project videos come from, Jason answered, “A lot of my inspiration comes from everyday people. I’ll just go to a cafe and park and just watch people. True stories, our stories are the best stories. I hear about these incredible acts of kindness, and when we look around we see them everyday; that’s what I’m inspired by.”
Jason added, “At the end of the day, we always try to make films that move people. At the end of the film, we want you to feel something, whether its really sad, really happy, really angry, any kind of emotion that you can evoke.”