Nov 30, 2018

The event raised nearly $600,000 towards the fight against HIV.

AIDS remains the second leading cause of death for young people worldwide—a fight that’s far from over.

That’s exactly why Viacom remains committed to the fight against this epidemic, and has for decades. On Tuesday, Grammy award-winning artist and AIDS activist Alicia Keys presented an award to Viacom President and CEO Bob Bakish for the company’s founding and longstanding support of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation on its 20th anniversary.

“Viacom has fundamentally redefined the role of the media in the fight against AIDS,” said Keys. “Oftentimes, we talk the good talk but need to walk the good walk, and so it’s a beautiful thing to see the social responsibility, the education, the activating, the inspiring of creativity in the workforce and its audience bringing everyone together in their fight against this disease.”

The anniversary gala raised more than $570,000 toward the global fight to end HIV/AIDS, shattering the foundation’s $100,000 goal for the evening.

"Despite the incredible progress and prevention efforts and advance in drug treatments the impact of the disease continues to outpace the response."

The funds will go toward the foundation’s efforts in continuing to empower young people in the global fight to end HIV like past MTV Staying Alive Foundation grant recipients Shirley Sabrina Oruko and Tyler Spencer.

The evening was a moment of reflection, but also a reminder that the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues, and so does the need for enthusiasm, compassion, and activism in the fight against it. Georgia Arnold, co-founder and executive director of MTV Staying Alive, emphasized that there’s still a strong need to empower youth in the HIV/AIDS response.

The MTV Staying Alive Foundation promotes sexual and reproductive health and rights globally, by funding innovative youth-led programs and producing ground-breaking content, including the multi-award winning MTV Shuga. The foundation has reached more than 3.2 million adolescents directly through their grant-giving program, tested nearly 300,000 young people for HIV, and awarded more than $6 million in grant funding to youth-led programs across 73 countries.

“Despite the incredible progress and prevention efforts and advance in drug treatments the impact of the disease continues to outpace the response,” said Arnold. “Twenty years ago MTV Staying Alive stood up and said we will protect the next generation by investing in them . . . that was our commitment then, and it will remain our commitment until we see an HIV-free world.”

Enabling Genuine Change Through Grant Recipients

Oruko, who is from Nairobi, Kenya, is involved with Partners in Action, an organization that works to empower young people to make better, safer choices by educating them about all facets of their sexual health. She said that the foundation has “given her a voice and allowed her to make genuine change in the community.”

Spencer founded the Grassroots Project, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that uses sports as a way to teach children about HIV, after learning that at least 3% of the state’s residents have HIV or AIDS in 2009.

“We're now looking to expand to other cities in the United States, which sadly experienced similar statistics that we saw in D.C. in 2009,” said Spencer. “None of this would have been possible without the initial guidance and support of the Staying Alive Foundation. And, it wasn't just about that $12,000. Staying Alive not only gave us the much needed funding, but they also gave me the training, the network, and capacity-building forces I needed to learn how I could grow the organization.”

Additional speakers and performers at the event included Jack Antonoff, Phony Ppl, Vice Chair of the MTV Staying Alive Board Henry Luyombya, and Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter Swati Dlamini-Mandela.

Viacom maintains a commitment to amplifying the voices of its audiences and employees to create positive change. That commitment stems from a desire to engage and empower, and it’s a part of Viacom’s DNA—whether its supporting MTV Staying Alive in encouraging young people to harness their power and influence or challenging audiences to engage with the issues that affect their lives and the world at large.

“We've been here from the very beginning,” said Bakish when accepting the award. “And now, as then, we would like to offer the support we can, providing the platform and foundation to reach young people, and to get the message out to our homes.”