Alicia Keys & More Celebrate The 20th Anniversary Of MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation

Tyler Spencer, Shirley Sabrina Oruko, Alicia Keys, Bob Bakish, Georgia Arnold, and Henry Luyombya pose onstage during the MTV Staying Alive Foundation 20th Anniversary Gala at Guastavino's on November 27, 2018 in New York City.
Tyler Spencer, Shirley Sabrina Oruko, Alicia Keys, Bob Bakish, Georgia Arnold, and Henry Luyombya pose onstage during the MTV Staying Alive Foundation 20th Anniversary Gala at Guastavino’s on November 27, 2018 in New York City.

Photo Credit: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for MTV

On Tuesday evening, November 27, the MTV Staying Alive Foundation celebrated its 20th anniversary with an inspirational gala at Guastavino’s in New York City. The event recognized the foundation’s 20 years of campaigning around HIV and sexual/reproductive health and rights, and empowering young people in the global fight to end HIV.

To date, MTV Staying Alive Foundation has distributed more than $6 million in grants to youth-led organizations globally. Through investing in young leaders, the foundation has facilitated the distribution of over 9.7 million condoms, reached more than 3.8 million young people directly about HIV, and HIV-tested over 270,000 young people in 72 countries.

Georgia Arnold speaks onstage during MTV Staying Alive Foundation 20th Anniversary Gala at Guastavino's on November 27, 2018 in New York City.
Georgia Arnold speaks onstage during MTV Staying Alive Foundation 20th Anniversary Gala at Guastavino’s on November 27, 2018 in New York City.

Georgia Arnold, the organization’s Founder & Executive Director, opened the evening by shedding a light on the foundation’s impactful mission, “Twenty years ago MTV Staying Alive stood up and said, we will protect the next generation by investing in them; we will give them the power to use their voices, their experiences; to influence their own universes.”

Georgia Arnold, Alicia Keys, and Bob Bakish attend the MTV Staying Alive Foundation 20th Anniversary Gala at Guastavino's on November 27, 2018 in New York City.
Georgia Arnold, Alicia Keys, and Bob Bakish attend the MTV Staying Alive Foundation 20th Anniversary Gala at Guastavino’s on November 27, 2018 in New York City.

Photo Credit: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for MTV

Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter Swati Dlamini-Mandela was in attendance to celebrate MTV Staying Alive Board Vice Chair Henry Luyombya. It was Luyombya’s meeting with her grandfather as part of the MTV documentary Meeting Mandela that inspired the founding of the organization. MTV recognized his passion and the ability to make a change in his community, but lacked the resources – so the Staying Alive Foundation gave him his first grant. Dlamini-Mandela remarked that Henry’s growth from the first grantee to the Vice Chair of the board had her grandfather “smiling down on this room tonight.”

Auctioneer Harry Santa-Olalla got the fundraising efforts off to an energetic star and shattered the foundation’s $100,000 goal for the evening.  Among the evening’s experiential opportunities up for grabs, the MTV ‘Golden Ticket’ VIP Package including tickets to both the MTV VMAs and MTV Movie & TV Awards, fetched the highest bid, selling for $50,000.

Alicia Keys, Bob Bakish, and Georgia Arnold pose onstage during the MTV Staying Alive Foundation 20th Anniversary Gala at Guastavino's on November 27, 2018 in New York City.
Alicia Keys, Bob Bakish, and Georgia Arnold pose onstage during the MTV Staying Alive Foundation 20th Anniversary Gala at Guastavino’s on November 27, 2018 in New York City.

Photo Credit: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for MTV

Grammy award-winning artist and AIDS activist Alicia Keys presented the award to President and CEO Bob Bakish for their founding support of the organization. Keys shared that her own AIDS activism was inspired by a trip she took to South Africa on behalf of MTV Staying Alive back in 2002.

“That trip to Cape Town literally changed my life!,” she shared. “It was my first big important trip to Africa and the first time I was confronted with the scope of the AIDS pandemic, and the young faces and voices in the fight against it. I was truly and profoundly affected. It totally changed the course of my life in the most important and powerful way.”

Alicia Keys presents an award to Bob Bakish onstage during the MTV Staying Alive Foundation 20th Anniversary Gala at Guastavino's at Guastavino's on November 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for MTV)
Alicia Keys presents an award to Bob Bakish onstage during the MTV Staying Alive Foundation 20th Anniversary Gala at Guastavino’s at Guastavino’s on November 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for MTV)

Photo Credit: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for MTV

Additional individuals that were spotlighted at the event were MTV Staying Alive grantees Tyler Spencer and Shirley Oruco. Spencer founded the Grassroots Project, a Washington, D.C. based organization that uses sports as a way to teach children about HIV. Oruco, who is from Nairobi, Kenya, founded 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.  Both grantees exemplify the organization’s work in providing funding to promising young activists working to make a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The program closed out with a musical performance from Jack Antonoff, lead singer of Bleachers, who played a four-song acoustic set, including Bleachers fan favorite ‘I Wanna Get Better.’

Shirley Sabrina Oruko, Henry Luyombya, and Swati Dlamini-Mandela attend MTV Staying Alive Foundation 20th Anniversary Gala at Guastavino's on November 27, 2018 in New York City.
Shirley Sabrina Oruko, Henry Luyombya, and Swati Dlamini-Mandela attend MTV Staying Alive Foundation 20th Anniversary Gala at Guastavino’s on November 27, 2018 in New York City.

Photo Credit: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for MTV

Jack Antonoff performs onstage during the MTV Staying Alive Foundation 20th Anniversary Gala at Guastavino's on November 27, 2018 in New York City.
Jack Antonoff performs onstage during the MTV Staying Alive Foundation 20th Anniversary Gala at Guastavino’s on November 27, 2018 in New York City.

Photo Credit: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for MTV

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