What We Do

About CAVU – Educate. Engage. Empower.
About CAVU – Educate. Engage. Empower.

David S. Smith and Jordan Vaughan Smith founded CAVU in 2004 on the belief that when people are informed and engaged, healthy societies and their environments thrive. For more than a decade, CAVU has been helping people take ownership of important issues in their communities. We have worked with more than 100 partners in 9 countries to develop significant campaigns. Our mission has always been about providing people with new insights on complex human and ecological problems through video and the aerial perspective. Together with local voices and authentic storytelling these new perspectives empower people to solve large scale problems of environmental degradation and climate change in their own communities.

Our Tools

Using our unique toolbox: flight, film, education and partnerships, we provide compelling and balanced video and educational materials that serve as a platform for cooperative initiatives to EDUCATE communities, ENGAGE leadership and EMPOWER diverse audiences with practicable solutions.

Flight is what sets CAVU apart from the rest of the nonprofit world. CAVU’s Co-founder and President David Smith is a highly-qualified pilot with more than four decades of experience flying aircraft on 3 continents at low altitude to capture aerial photography, mapping, and videography. In addition to creating compelling videos and gathering data that utilize this aerial perspective, CAVU is able to bring community leaders, elected officials and journalists into the sky to view situations firsthand, empowering them with a valuable perspective.

Film is the visual medium that provides the foundation of CAVU’s educational efforts.  We strive for authentic “voices of the people” as the most effective way to tell a story that engages an audience and encourages them to take ownership of important issues. We combine vivid imagery with compelling stories told by real people impacted by environmental and social justice issues. We pride ourselves on using a diverse range of stakeholders to tell a complete story as we search for the underlying hope, solutions and steps forward that will ENGAGE decision makers and EMPOWER actionable change.

Education has always been at the core of our work. If people are learning, we are being effective in our jobs. Social media and the wide availability of internet access and mobile devices are allowing us to disseminate messages even more broadly, reaching thousands and even millions of people, creating real results.  Today, our videos and education initiatives are being used in public forums and classrooms throughout Central and North America — educating one community at a time.

Partnerships are central to our mission. In fact, CAVU always works in partnership on every initiative we undertake. CAVU brings a unique perspective and storytelling style to organizations and coalitions to help elevate big issues. By working in collaboration with others, CAVU can incorporate longstanding relationships and local knowledge of partners into the production of our materials while using the broadest network possible to disseminate our videos, effectively compounding the reach of any one individual organization — empowering diverse populations to come together and solve problems.