Give Back & Get Down Benefits Literacy & Education

by Chanel Cathey, Viacom
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(L to R): Marva Smalls, EVP of Global Inclusion Strategy at Viacom, MTV2’s Desus Nice (Guy Code), Pop star Alessia Cara (“Here”), Viacom’s President and CEO Philippe Dauman, MTV2’s The Kid Mero (Guy Code), and BET Networks CEO Debra Lee. (Photo:

With the season of giving in full swing, Viacom’s Office of Global Inclusion and its Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) joined forces for the 6th annual Give Back & Get Down event at our Times Square headquarters. This gift giving initiative focused on education and improving literacy – encouraging employees from all corners of our New York offices to volunteer and donate books. Viacom employees and Nickelodeon in partnership with Random House collected 15,000 books for literacy organizations including: The Pajama Program, Books Through Bars, The Chris Canty Foundation, Literacy Inc. (LINC) and Jumpstart. Viacom President and CEO Philippe Dauman thanked the hundreds in attendance for their collaborative support and ushered in a celebratory, acoustic performance by pop star Alessia Cara singing her hit song “Here”.

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Alessia Cara performs for an excited Give Back & Get Down crowd in The White Box at Viacom. (Photo: Sterling Batson)

MTV2’s “Guy Code” stars Desus Nice and The Kid Mero hosted and the comedic duo kept the crowd laughing and even in suspense as they called out the winning numbers for raffle prizes. Give Back & Get Down continues to be a highly anticipated, employee event because it responds to pressing social issues and provides support to local organizations making an impact.

“We wanted to create an event that is festive in nature but pro-social in purpose,” said Renee Jackson, Give Back & Get Down Co-Creator. “This gives employees a unique opportunity to come together and have a great time, but at the same time give back to our community.”


Give Back & Get Down started in 2010, when two Viacom colleagues Renee Jackson and Tara Shaw teamed up to create a way to further give back to the community. They continue to partner with the Office of Global Inclusion, under the leadership of Marva Smalls (EVP of Global Inclusion Strategy for Viacom), and with the Employee Resource Groups: AMP, Emerge HERE, Somos, The Parenthood, Thursday Think, The Beat, and Fusion to grow this event. They sparked a tidal wave of donations over the years including canned food and winter clothing.

“Give Back & Get Down is a perfect example of how Viacom is committed to helping those in need,” said co-creator Tara Shaw. “In the last six years, we collected over 100,000 pounds of donations and it feels amazing to join forces in order to give back in such a big way.”

There are so many great memories from the event like having our partner nonprofits in attendance and watching volunteers pack the books to deliver in time for the holidays. Renee also had a very special guest join from North Carolina, making it a day she will never forget.

“My mom drove 10 hours to be at the event, and she brought some of my childhood books to donate. It meant a lot that our CEO Philippe Dauman gave her a special shot out for attending a second year in a row!” – Renee Jackson


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