Advanced Television

MTV Staying Alive Foundation marks 25th anniversary

September 22, 2023

The MTV Staying Alive Foundation, Paramount Global’s non-profit dedicated to equipping and empowering young people to make informed choices about their health, rights and well-being, today marked its 25th anniversary, which coincides with the UN General Assembly’s Sustainable Development Goals agenda in New York, where world leaders are focusing on renewing momentum and action.

The Foundation also announced Wame Jallow has been appointed Executive Director, succeeding its co-Founder Georgia Arnold. Based in Botswana, Jallow will step into the role effective immediately, bringing 20 years of experience in global health, rights and the environment. Jallow previously served as Vice President of International Programmes at Populations Media Center where she managed its global portfolio to implement media to promote social and behavioral change. Jallow’s appointment reflects both the Foundation’s continued commitment to female leadership, and the shift to rooting its work firmly in the Global South.

The appointment comes after Arnold, the Foundation’s Co-founder and Executive Director announced last year that she was stepping down from her role as Executive Director. This week, Arnold was honored with a special UNAIDS leadership award in recognition of the outstanding and remarkable contributions she has made to the global response to HIV.

Bob Bakish, President and CEO of Paramount Global said: “Under Georgia’s leadership, MTV Staying Alive has made an immeasurable impact around the world for over two decades with its groundbreaking approach to empowering and educating young people. Georgia is an inspirational leader and founder whose vision made MTV Staying Alive the international force it is today. Since well before the AIDS epidemic, Paramount has remained committed to supporting work that protects and informs the next generation. We recognize there is still work to be done and look forward to continuing to support the Foundation under Wame Jallow.”

Since its inception in 1998 with MTV’s Staying Alive documentary, which was hosted by George Michael and dedicated to the emerging HIV and AIDS crisis, the Foundation has taken an entertainment-education approach in transforming essential health messages into engaging content that helps young people make positive decisions about their lives. The Foundation has since adapted its focus to broader issues including sexual and reproductive health, gender-based violence, LGBTQ+ rights, human rights and mental health.

The Foundation is best-known for its lasting, tangible impact through the award-winning MTV Shuga scripted series. Having first aired in Kenya in 2009 featuring Oscar® winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, the series expanded to broadcast across 40 African countries and more than 70 television stations internationally. MTV Shuga often tackles taboo topics such as HIV, safe and legal abortion, and rape and gender-based violence. Evaluations by Johns Hopkins University, the World Bank, Tulane University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have shown that an MTV Shuga viewer is twice as likely to use condoms, twice as likely to test for HIV, and more likely to exhibit positively changed attitudes against gender-based violence. Further, a World Bank analysis demonstrates that every $1 invested in the MTV Shuga campaign, gives a $150 return in health and welfare benefits.

To date, 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.

Georgia Arnold, Co-Founder and departing Executive Director of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation said: “Over the last 25 years, MTV Staying Alive has led the way in storytelling with purpose and proven impact. Our diverse content, produced directly within the communities that we are working with, has been able to melt cultural barriers by telling authentic, local yet universal stories. We have been intentional and thoughtful about who we work with, and what stories we are telling, and always ensured that everyone has a seat at the table. I couldn’t be more thrilled that Wame Jallow is now stepping into the role as Executive Director, and I am confident her roots in Southern Africa, paired with her years of experience, will elevate the Foundation to new heights.”

Wame Jallow, the newly appointed Executive Director of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, said: “To truly make an impact and succeed in telling the stories of our communities, we must widen our lens to recognize the interconnectedness of economic, social, climate, rights and health justice. These issues are inextricably linked, and they touch every aspect of our daily lives and those of young people.”

Over the past 25 years the Foundation has built a global donor base and implemented partnerships with leading organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Unitaid, The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and ViiV Healthcare. In its next chapter, the Foundation will continue to build global partnerships with donors, to scale its reach into areas where there is most need for impact.

Categories: Press Releases

Tags: , ,