Shuga, which first aired in 2009 and starred Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, blends in-depth stories about students across English and, for the first time, French-speaking Africa with informative sexual health information, including how to stay protected from HIV and how to seek out treatment. The latest multimedia “edutainment” campaign is intended to reach previously untapped populations between the ages of 15 to 24 as AIDS remains the leading cause of death among ages 10 to 24 in Africa.
“Millions of people in Africa watch MTV Shuga,” said Lelio Marmora, executive director of Unitaid. “Our partnership with MTV Staying Alive gives us a terrific opportunity to reach young people who don’t have reliable health information and empower them to take charge of their health — including testing themselves for HIV.”
The series is set to debut in South Africa and Côte d’Ivoire between 2018 and 2020.
The White Box event space at Viacom’s Times Square headquarters was getting loud and rowdy in the late afternoon on Tuesday, July 16 as 95 interns from three New York City offices sang along to music, socialized and volunteered to help others in need. Meanwhile, similar events ramped up at the Los Angeles and Nashville offices, as approximately 160 interns in all three cities got to work for two incredible non-profit organizations, Rise Against Hunger and Free Arts NYC.
The coordinated cross-country sessions were part of Viacom’s first-ever Intern Viacommunity Day, a scaled-down version of Viacom’s annual global Viacommunity Day, which places thousands of volunteers to help out in local communities, typically in the spring. The collaboration between the Viacommunity corporate social responsibility team and the Campus to Career program grants summer interns a chance to participate in an equally impactful event.
“Viacom’s internship program is great; I’ve had a ton of exposure to company-wide events,” said intern Aliza White. “Summer interns aren’t here for Viacommunity Day, but the intern-only rendition of this was super cool. Viacom’s dedication to giving back and to helping others is amazing, and it really drives the great internal culture of the company.”
Interns painting for Free Arts NYC. Photo by Essence Dashtaray.
On one side of the large New York City room, interns created an assembly line to package food for disaster relief. They cheered each time the massive gong sounded, indicating that they had boxed 1,000 more meals. Overall, our Burbank and New York interns prepared more than 20,000 pre-packaged meals for Rise Against Hunger, which will send them out to feed the most vulnerable among us.
Elsewhere, interns painted bags with designs ranging from SpongeBob characters to inspirational quotes and images. The teams in New York and Nashville decorated more than 100 bags that Free Arts NYC – which seeks to empower underserved youth through art and mentoring programs –will disperse to children in their programs.
“Strategizing new ways to give back to our communities is one of the things that I love most about working at Viacom,” said CSR Coordinator Margarita Papadogiannis. “I believe that when we encourage our young professionals to volunteer, we are also inspiring them to continue to advocate for the causes they are passionate about. My goal with Intern Viacommunity Day is to equip more millennials with the mindset, tools and connections necessary to influence social change.”
On Monday, June 11, Viacom interns and employees gathered in a pop music-filled conference room at the company’s Times Square headquarters. They had come to join Viacommunity – Viacom’s social-responsibility arm – to assemble duffle bags full of towels, sheet sets, laundry bags, comforters, backpacks and other items for disadvantaged college-bound students.
The two-hour event was part of Project Move-In Day, a collaboration between the Mayor’s Office of New York City’s NYC Service program, the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), and corporations such as Viacom that aims to provide 150 homeless or disadvantaged students with a packaged bag of dorm necessities at a summer send-off reception honoring their hard work and dedication.
Viacom employee and intern voluneers at the company’s New York City headquarters help fill duffel bags for underprivilged college-bound students as part of a partnership with NYC Service.
Kylie Balogh and Gina Yoo from NYC Service led off the event by screening an inspirational video featuring a permanently wheelchair-bound girl expecting to attend college. She lives with her brother and grandmother in a shelter. In spite of all these challenges, she spoke in the most optimistic and engaging way, praising this organization and its support for her aspirations. She was certain that she would succeed. She is just one of hundreds of young individuals striving for greatness through DHS’ Future Leader Program. These teens may need assistance in getting from point A to point B, but, from the way this young woman spoke there seemed to be little doubt that once they arrived, they will achieve something special.
The volunteers, who came from two of Viacom’s New York City offices, worked with speed and efficiency, some focusing solely on packing or card writing, and others creating their own package from start to finish. The handwritten cards included supportive notes of praise and advice, emphasizing that these teens deserved this chance and predicting that they will do great things. A pizza party followed.
One of the many things that makes Viacom stand out as an employer is that it continually supports those in need while creating enjoyable experiences for volunteers who want to be part of those efforts. This bag-assembly event – part of Viacommunity’s year-round All Good, All Year initiative, which provides monthly employee volunteer opportunities – was a huge success. All participants seemed genuinely thrilled to be there and it generated the perfect opportunity for new hires and interns to get acquainted with one another and with Viacom’s philanthropic efforts.
The Viacom employees’ identical black racing shirts bore a lightning bolt back-dropping a three-word statement of intent: Run the Night. In the clear and humid May evening they did exactly that, dashing through 3.5 miles of hills and springtime trees in Manhattan’s Central Park, a 150-member collective scattered amid 15,000 workers from 329 companies bounding through the 42nd annual J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge.
Viacom employees gather before the first night of the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge in Central Park on May 30, 2018.
Leading Team Viacom’s women’s group with a time of 25:42 was Alyssa Curci, a senior manager of vendor management in the company’s Media and Technology Services group.
“The energy was amazing,” Curci, who was participating in her first Corporate Challenge, recalled. “Everybody was excited to be there.”
Curci, who swam competitively at Division 1 Lehigh University, took up running after moving to New York City. She now runs three to five miles at least two days per week along the running paths that trace the rivers surrounding Manhattan.
As someone who joined Viacom just the month before the race, Curci appreciated elements of the challenge beyond the opportunity for an employer-sanctioned workout.
“I’m trying to meet a lot of the employees in Viacom, so this is a really nice opportunity,” Curci recalled. “When you’re the new person somewhere, it can be very intimidating, and you want to be a part of the group and a part of the family, and the fact that anyone who wanted to participate was allowed to was great. It’s an inviting culture, which is something that I really value about Viacom. It’s why I joined the company.”
Alyssa Curci, left, and Ross McGraw, right, finished tops in the female and male categories among their Viacom colleagues at the 2018 J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge.
For at least the third consecutiveyear, Ross McGraw finished first among all Viacom employees – and 15th overall – with a time of 18:47.
That McGraw finished near the top of the standings is little surprise – he is a committedathlete who placed first in the ITU World Triathlon in Bermuda earlier this year and will compete in triathlons in Philadelphia and New York City as a City Coach athlete over the coming two weekends. He will also compete in the USA Triathlon AG Nationals in Cleveland in August, race as an Elite-license-carrying Pro at the Ironman 70.3 in Lake Placid in September, and start as part of the Local Elite group in November’s New York City Marathon.
Viacom won five 2018 Cynopsis Social Good Awards for its civic-minded media focused on LGBT advocacy, disaster relief, and anti-bullying action, among other issues. Read about each campaign below.
Awareness Campaign/Initiative – Children’s Sector
Nickelodeon Creative Advertising – Nick SPLAT – Truth – Trivia
Cynopsis recognized Nickelodeon for Nick SPLAT Trivia, a partnership between the kids entertainment brand and nationally renowned smoking prevention organization Truth. Nick SPLAT Trivia, a lighthearted PSA in the form of a game show (complete with old-school 90s Nick graphics), educates young viewers on the ugly truth behind big tobacco.
Truth’s initiative is to get the millennial generation to take a stand against big tobacco and their profiling by using the Nick splat voice and audience.
Branded Campaign for a Digital, Broadcast or Cable TV Series
Comedy Central/Viacom Velocity – The Daily Show & Truth: Go Away Big Tobacco
MTV – #EyesOnChechnya – Awareness Campaign/Initiative – Human Rights
MTV earned the Awareness Campaign/Initiative honor, for its social media campaign #EyesOnChechnya, a multifacteted marketing crusade that shed light on the horrific treatment of LGBT citizens in Chechnya, part of Russian. In Chechnya, gay and bisexual men are persecuted – rounded up and tortured for their sexuality. MTV is preventing the world from looking away while these atrocities continue. (You can visit the website to learn more and take action).
Jen Bartels [L], who will play a role in Paramount Network’s forthcoming American Woman, and Kelsey Asbille, who will appear in the channel’s Yellowstone, joined Viacom employees in New York City for the company’s annual Viacommunity Day.
For the past 22 years, Viacom’s annual worldwide Viacommunity Day has given back to those in need. On Friday, April 20, thousands of employees across Viacom and its brands once again volunteered to make a difference in communities around the world, from supporting L.A.’s homeless to organizing gun-safety projects in Florida to restoring outdated facilities in New York City.
Joining the Viacom employees for one project at their Times Square headquarters was talent from Paramount Network’s forthcoming originals: Jen Bartels of American Woman (premiering June 7) and Kelsey Asbille of Yellowstone (June 20). The pair sat down with the other volunteers to decorate bags that students at Free Arts NYC can use to carry home the art they create in the program.
“Thank you to Viacom for introducing me to Free Arts NYC. It’s really important for the youth to have access to arts in their daily lives. I definitely want to get involved in their mentorship programs.” – Kelsey Asbille (Paramount Network’s Yellowstone)
Free Arts NYC is important in New York City, where one in three public schools lacks an art room. The program partners with schools in these communities to “create access to the arts and exposure to creative careers” for students. They do this by offering free art days for students and families as well as art parties and free museum days.
Bartels shared that she was, “really proud to be a part of a community like Viacom that takes time out to support others, especially our youth. Sharing our creativity to brighten the lives of the children of Free Arts NYC was extremely fun and fulfilling.”
When lunchtime arrived at the Jamaica orphanage, a knife-wielding worker snatched a chicken from the yard and lopped its head off, shocking the cluster of California volunteers who had stopped off at this hilltop enclave en route to Kingston from Ocho Rios.
Erin Jordan was shocked.
“That’s what they do before they get to the grocery store,” the man said. “I don’t understand why ya’ll don’t get that. But this will be the best chicken you’ll ever have.”
They roasted it over coals on the side of the road. “And you know what?” Jordan said. “It was the best chicken I ever had.”
Jordan is a manager on Paramount Picture’s corporate social responsibility team, a board member of the Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California, and a veteran of volunteer efforts all over the world, from the inner cities of New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Phoenix to the favelas climbing Brazilian hillsides. It is these volunteer efforts, she says, that frame her life perspective and ground her sense of place in the world.
“Most of us have so much, and you don’t realize it until you meet people or communities who don’t have that,” Jordan says. “And if I have the time or resources to spare, I’m willing to do that.”
Erin Jordan on a 2002 mission to Bahia, Brazil, to deliver supplies to those in need.
Spreading the Lot’s Influence Beyond the Gates
Like all Viacom brands, Paramount Pictures throws its full weight behind the company’s annual Viacommunity Day (which is coming up this Friday, April 20), when thousands of employees turn their energies over to good causes all over the world.
But long before the trees are planted and the meals are served, the prep begins. For Paramount, that starts with Jordan and the rest of the studio’s corporate social responsibility team. For Viacommunity Day, the small but highly effective team coordinates up to a dozen sites around Los Angeles and supports the international teams as they develop projects. They wrangle supplies and secure permits, and organize an on-site petting zoo and a wrap party, which last year featured Keith Urban joining Paramount staff for game night.
The city-wide events disperse 600 to 800 volunteers around Los Angeles, but once the party raps up and Keith Urban goes home, the studio’s social responsibility team continues their year-round focus on education, HIV/AIDS, and sustainability through Paramount’s Green Team.
They don’t have to travel far. Santa Monica Boulevard Charter sits right across the street from the Paramount lot, in a neighborhood designated a White House Promise Zone under President Barack Obama, and it is a beneficiary of the studio’s Kindergarten to Cap & Gown mentoring program. Jordan helps organize one-to-one student-mentor literacy matches that stretch through most of the school year and in some cases across many years, following the students to junior high.
These immersive long-term engagements can profoundly impact both student and mentor. “When you have more frequent contact with a student as part of an overall plan, I feel that they see you want the best for them and you’re concerned with their success,” Jordan says. “That I can actually do that and call that my job is awesome.”
Classroom reading, kindergarten yoga, dance classes, science labs and playground games – all organized by Jordan and attended by Paramount volunteers on Viacommunity Day – further fuse these powerful student-mentor relationships with the studio’s neighbor.
Building a Better Place to Live
Los Angeles, with its 4 million people sprawled over a vast basin between mountain and ocean, is an easy place to lose yourself. Peppered among the endless tracts tucked within the spider web of freeways are oases for those who need a little help tracking themselves down again. Jordan’s work draws her to these places.
Part of Team Viacom at Cycle for Survival’s New York City fundraiser.
In a continuing tradition central to Viacommunity’s All Good, All Year initiative, 24 Team Viacom employees in New York and Los Angeles joined the battle to beat rare cancers by participating in Cycle for Survival’s 12th year of rides, helping to raise some of the more than $40 million in critical funds that the organization has raised for rare cancer research this season alone.
In Los Angeles, eight riders rallied at Equinox Sports Club West LA for a four-hour single-bike relay, joining the more than 150 teams sharing 300 bikes among 1,500 participants. Paramount’s Anna Sivak won a $100 Amazon gift card from a Team Viacom fundraising challenge, while Equinox named the studio’s Kim Seiniger as the session’s most enthusiastic rider, awarding her a $100 donation to her fundraising page.
“Team Viacom was in full force for the Cycle for Survival ride at the Westside Equinox Gym. There were so many amazing riders pumped for the cause,” said Mary Jo Braun, executive director of Music Clearance at Paramount Pictures, who joined colleagues Ryan Stouffer Sandra Hiestand, Agnieszka Szymanska, Kevin Chalk and Stephanie Aguilar on the ride.
In New York, 16 riders shared two bikes over four hours at the second annual Media and Tech Innovators ride at Equinox Bryant Park, which hosted 600 riders from 30 companies.
“What an honor it was to be part of such a remarkable event and ride for those who have fought and continue to fight to beat rare cancers,” said Amanda Yasoshima, a manager at Velocity Brand Partnerships.
A 16-year-old girl in the United Arab Emirates organizes environmental clean-ups in more than 10 countries. A 13-year-old in the Philippines gives gifts and hygiene products to 10,000 street kids in his community. A 16-year-old who fled Syria starts a school for 200 children in his refugee camp.
These are three of the extraordinary youngsters that Nickelodeon International has partnered with KidsRights Foundation to spotlight through #KidsCan, an international campaign that will profile these inspiring stories for audiences around the world.
“Nickelodeon is extremely proud to partner with KidsRights as we celebrate young people making the world a better place, one project at a time,” said Nickelodeon International Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility Bradley Archer-Haynes. “Kids everywhere have the power to make a difference, regardless of age or location. We wanted to provide a platform to help amplify their stories, while pointing to resources that help young people remember they can do anything.”
Here’s a closer look at some of these incredible stories:
Kehkashan Basu – United Arab Emirates: 2016 Peace Prize winner focused on environmental sustainability.
Tomorrow, students will lead an extraordinary protest against gun violence and for improved gun safety, a March For Our Lives through the streets of Washington, D.C. and hundreds of other communities across the world. This youth community, marshaled in the wake of the Feb. 14 massacre in Parkland, Florida, will demand solutions to end the scourge of gun violence and school shootings in America.
Viacom proudly supports these students. On the streets, on the airwaves, on social media and on mobile devices and on every platform that its brands reach, Viacom will amplify these students’ message and their voice, will stand with them as they speak up to unambiguously state that their lives and their safety matter.
Viacom’s wide-ranging support for this student-led movement began in earnest last Wednesday, March 14, when all Viacom networks went dark for the 17 minutes of the National School Walkout, a mass coordinated effort to denounce the inaction and indifference that have accompanied the stubborn persistence of gun violence.
Most Viacom networks went dark during the 17 minutes of the National School Walkout on March 14, displaying this message of solidarity in place of regular programming.
Here’s a deeper look at how Viacom’s brands will be supporting the March For Our Lives:
Seventeen people lost their lives in the Parkland shooting. More than 17 young people die* from gun violence every day in America.
On Saturday, MTV, in partnership with the NAACP and local youth organizations, will send 17 buses of young people from Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, and other communities suffering from intractable gun violence. The network will complement this on-the-streets effort with live MTV News and Social coverage.
MTV will have plenty of help to bolster the message: singer-songwriter Vic Mensa will take control of the network’s Instagram Stories account, while Jennifer Lopez, Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, Pusha T, Halsey, Carmelo Anthony and Chloe x Halle will deliver messages of support and encouragement to the marchers.
“Once again young people are at the forefront of driving change,” said Chris McCarthy, President of MTV. Referring to a national network-led study** conducted post-Parkland to analyze teen’s reactions to gun violence, McCarthy continued, “Today’s study revealed an overwhelming 75 percent of teens polled are ‘not going to wait until they are adults to make real political change,’ and MTV is proud to amplify this youth-led activism.”
The MTV study also revealed that 69 percent of teenagers are angry that the government isn’t doing enough to prevent gun violence, and 74 percent believe adults are underestimating young people’s political power.
The main players in Comedy Central’s bustling late-night universe have been demonstrating their support for the students from a variety of different angles. Last night, Comedy Central’s The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper traveled to Maryland to host U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), before an audience of teens, many of whom plan to march tomorrow.
“Change has never in history come from Washington,” Booker said, “it has come to Washington.”
The Opposition Chaperones Democracy: Kids Just Wanna Take Guns also transported viewers into a Baltimore high school, where correspondent Kobi Libii interviewed students who are frustrated and fed up with local gun violence:
Earlier today, Comedy Central released a clip of Trevor Noah discussing the march and the shooting’s aftermath with five students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the Parkland shooting occurred.
When The Jim Jefferies Show returns to Comedy Central next Tuesday, the show will broadcast a segment filmed on the ground at the San Diego March For Our Lives rally. Jefferies, who is entering his second season hosting the show, is a long-time champion of reforms to curb gun violence.