Sustainability

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Photo courtesty National Geographic

21st Century Fox’s National Geographic has selected three high school students as the recipients of the National Geographic Student Expeditions Inaugural Teen Service Award, a new program recognizing young people who have demonstrated a commitment to making a difference in their communities. Alexa Grabelle, Delaney Reynolds, and Kaimana Idica will each receive $500 college scholarships, and Grabelle, as the grand prize winner, will embark on a National Geographic Community Service Expedition to Fiji this summer. The awards program is one of the many ways National Geographic continues to empower the next generation of global citizens and explorers.

“Connecting with and benefiting communities around the world is a key focus of National Geographic Student Expeditions, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to recognize students across the country who are making a difference in their own communities,” said Deb Friedman, vice president for independent and specialty travel for National Geographic. “We were blown away by the nominations we received for these awards.”

National Geographic received nearly 300 submissions for the award, for which parents, teachers, and local leaders could nominate middle or high school students investing time and effort into their communities. Following the submission period, judges at Nat Geo selected 16 finalists, each of whom were asked to write a short essay on the importance of community service and what inspires them to give back. The judges then chose the grand prize winner and two runners-up based on those essays.

Grabelle, 15, who attends high school in New Jersey, won the grand prize for founding the nonprofit Bags of Books at age 10 and continuing to work with volunteers to collect and distribute children’s books to low-income families. She has given away more than 110,000 children’s books to date, and in recognition of her work, National Geographic’s Kids Books will also donate 300 children’s books to her organization.

“Equality and justice means that all children, regardless of background, must have an equal opportunity to obtain the resources and skills they need to succeed in school and life,” Grabelle said. “Changing the world means helping children, one book at a time.”

Reynolds and Idica, high school seniors in Miami and Hawaii, respectively, both addressed climate change and environmental issues in their community service projects, for which they were recognized as runners-up. Through her work with the Sink or Swim Project, Reynolds aims to educate as many people as possible about the negative effects climate change is already having on ecosystems in Florida. Her efforts, including educational lectures, children’s books and more, have reached an estimated 35,000 people.

Similarly, Idica has partnered with several nonprofits to educate the public in Maui about the effects that plastics specifically have on the environment. He has created zero-waste local for public events, led film projects, and spoken at high schools across the state.

“Today our society has gotten lazy by living in a world of convenience,” Idica said. “I cannot just look the other way and say, ‘Someone else will do it.’ There are too many people saying that already.”

Learn more about National Geographic Student Expeditions.


Katie Couric, Courteney Monroe at the Cynopsis Media Social Good Awards, New York City

On Thursday, March 2, Cynopsis Media honored National Geographic with its inaugural Impact Award in the Network category at their third annual Social Good Awards in New York City. The Social Good Awards recognize brands, campaigns, and individuals for outstanding work in areas ranging from environmental initiatives to voter registration to combatting addiction.

Journalist Katie Couric presented the Impact Award to Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Global Networks, for the company’s commitment to programming that engages viewers in stories about the human condition and exploration of new frontiers, including documentaries Before the Flood and Gender Revolution, which is hosted by Couric and explores issues of gender identity. “I could not have found a better partner on this journey with me…. Under Courteney’s leadership, this truly iconic brand is reaching new heights. It’s broadened the definition of exploration to not only include geography but ideas and even our inner dimensions—the very things that make us human,” said Couric.

21st Century Fox businesses earned a total of ten nominations at the Cynopsis Social Good Awards. In addition to the Impact Award, 21CF and National Geographic’s social media campaign in support of the documentary He Named Me Malala was awarded Social Good Awards in both categories of “Facebook Campaign or Initiative” and “Partnership with a Celebrity/Athlete/Character.” The film tells the inspiring story of Pakistani education activist and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai’s fight for the educational rights of women and girls. The Stand with Malala social media campaign drew attention to the more than 60 million girls that are out of school around the world, and raised $50,000 for the Malala Fund to support education programs for Syrian refugee children.

National Geographic also won an award for best “Environmental Campaign or Initiative” for Before the Flood, a documentary from Academy Award-winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Fisher Stevens investigating the global effects of climate change. In addition to airing the film in 171 countries around the world, National Geographic made it available for free across streaming and on-demand platforms to ensure as many people could see it as possible. More than 60 million people viewed Before the Flood, making it one of the most watched documentary films in history. National Geographic also ran a number of campaigns around the film to amplify its message, including a series of screenings at colleges and universities in partnership with Rock the Vote to encourage students to register to vote ahead of the presidential election.  “It’s not enough just to create this type of important and thought provoking content. As leaders in media we need to be equally committed to making sure it reaches the widest audience possible in order to effect change…. In a world in which media is scrutinized like never before, we have a responsibility to be bold, to take risks, to be radical in our thinking and relentless in our pursuit of stories that matter,” added Nat Geo’s Monroe.

Other 21st Century Fox nominations at the Social Good Awards represented the variety of social issues that 21CF businesses work on, ranging from FOX Sports Supports’ efforts to help military veterans transition to civilian life to National Geographic’s on-air campaigns to preserve America’s National Parks. The “Find Your Park, Love Your Park” campaign from National Geographic and Subaru of America is geared toward teaching fourth graders across the United States about the importance of U.S. national parks by driving viewers to a host of educational resources available at National Geographic’s website. In addition, “Partners in Preservation: National Parks”, created with American Express, awarded $2 million in grants in 2016 to historic sites in need of preservation within national parks, as decided by popular vote on the campaign website.

“At National Geographic, we have a 130-year history of supporting and funding individuals committed to making a difference. Through the National Geographic Society, we invest in bold people with really transformative ideas in the fields of exploration, scientific research, conservation and education,” concluded Monroe at the awards.

Get more information and check out a full list of the 2017 Cynopsis Media Social Good Award winners and nominees.


On February 20, 2017, Nat Geo WILD launched its seventh annual ‘Big Cat Week’, a week of premiere programming and activities dedicated to telling the stories of nature’s fiercest felines—lions, tigers, cheetahs, panthers and more—around the world. ‘Big Cat Week’ is an extension of the Big Cats Initiative (BCI), a long-term commitment by National Geographic Society to stop poaching, save habitat and sound the call that big steps are needed to save big cats around the world. The initiative was co-founded by big cat experts Dereck and Beverly Joubert, and supports protection efforts through assessment, on-the-ground conservation, education, and global public-awareness campaigns—since 2009, BCI has supported over 95 innovative grants to protect seven iconic big cat species across 27 countries.

The Big Cats Initiative Sister School Program is an interactive learning opportunity that connects classrooms in the U.S. and abroad with students living near big cat populations across the African continent. One such classroom is P.S. 205, the Fiorello Laguardia School located in the Bronx, which is paired with Gudigwa Primary School in Botswana. Through photos, letters, and virtual assemblies over the last three years, the two schools have created substantial cross-cultural exchange and discussion about the decline of big cats in the wild and what that means for the ecosystem around them.

Last Thursday, P.S. 205 students helped Nat Geo WILD kick off ‘Big Cat Week’ by spending some time with the Jouberts themselves, who live in Botswana and work closely with Gudigwa Primary School. After a special screening of their new documentary, Soul of the Cat, the Jouberts spoke to nearly 400 4th and 5th graders about the history, purpose, and progress of BCI, their role as explorers and filmmakers, and the world of students at Gudigwa, which P.S. 205 has raised $1,500 for through classroom fundraisers. At the end of the presentation, students gave the Jouberts letters to take back to students at Gudigwa and participated in an auditorium-wide ROAR for big cats around the world, while being reminded that even people who live in New York City far from big cat populations can make a difference in protecting them.

Dereck and Beverly Joubert are award-winning filmmakers from South Africa who have been filming, researching, and exploring in Africa for over 25 years. Their coverage of unique predator behavior has resulted in 22 films (and five Emmys), 10 books, six scientific papers, and many articles for National Geographic magazine. As Explorers-in-Residence with National Geographic, the Jouberts are now focused on developing solutions to halt big cat endangerment, which has seen the number of lions in Africa drop from 450,000 to 20,000 in just 50 years.

“We no longer have the luxury of time when it comes to big cats,” says Dereck. “They are in such a downward spiral that if we hesitate now, we will be responsible for extinctions across the globe. If there was ever a time to take action, it is now.”

Learn more about ‘Big Cat Week’ and the Big Cats Initiative.


Fox Sports Supports PSA photoshoot with National Association on Mental Illness nominated for Cynopsis Social Good Award

FOX Sports, National Geographic and the Fox Business Network have garnered a total of ten nominations for the third annual Cynopsis Social Good Awards, a ceremony celebrating the media industry’s leading social responsibility initiatives. The nominations represent the breadth of social issues on which 21st Century Fox businesses engage their audiences, from National Geographic’s on-air campaigns to preserve America’s National Parks to FOX Sports Supports’ efforts to help military veterans transition to civilian life. The winners will be announced at a breakfast in New York City on March 2.

The nominations for 21CF businesses include the following:

  • Awareness Campaign/Initiative – Environmental/Weather: National Geographic Channel for Before the Flood
  • Awareness Campaign/Initiative – Environmental/Weather: National Geographic Channel for National Geographic
  • Best Overall Marketing: National Geographic & American Express for “Partners in Preservation: National Parks”
  • Best Spot (Over 30 Seconds): FOX Sports for “Rebuild” MVP & FOX Sports Supports
  • Environmental Campaign or Initiative: National Geographic for Before the Flood
  • Environmental Campaign or Initiative: National Geographic & Subaru of America for “Find Your Park, Love Your Park”
  • Nonprofit/Corporate Partnership: National Geographic & DAVIDOFF Cool Water for “Love the Ocean”
  • Public Service Announcement: FOX Sports for “Stigma Free” from FOX Sports Supports and the National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Best Episode with a Social Good Theme: The Centsables (Fox Business Network) for “The Centsinnati 500”
  • Social Good Shining Stars: FOX Sports Supports

FOX Sports Supports won the “Social Good Shining Sports Star” category at last year’s ceremony, the top honor for overall charitable sports program. The initiative has contributed millions of dollars to more than 40 charities through on-air engagement such as PSAs, in-game reads and on-screen graphics across FOX’s sports properties. Its current partnerships with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and more were chosen by a vote of FOX Sports employees in December 2015.

“The partnership with FOX Sports is of tremendous value in the Stigma Free movement and amplifies NAMI’s efforts at helping build better lives and promote a thriving American community,” said Katrina Gay, NAMI’s National Director of Communications and Public Affairs.

The National Geographic campaigns nominated each utilize the breadth of the organization’s resources to reach diverse audiences. The “Find Your Park, Love Your Park” campaign from National Geographic and Subaru of America, for example, is geared toward teaching fourth graders across the United States about the importance of U.S. national parks by driving viewers toward a host of educational resources available at National Geographic’s website. In addition, “Partners in Preservation: National Parks” awarded $2 million in grants in 2016 to historic sites in need of preservation within national parks, as decided by popular vote on the campaign website.

“We love to give our readers an opportunity to engage with their passion for parks and ‘Partners in Preservation: National Parks’ is an ideal way to activate our very engaged community and empower them to participate,” said Susan Goldberg, Editor-in-Chief, National Geographic.

Learn more about the Cynopsis Social Good awards, and view the full list of this year’s nominees.


X Files Styrofoam UFO

On the latest episode of the GreenBiz 350 podcast, GreenBiz executive editor Joel Makower interviewed 21st Century Fox’s VP of Social Impact Vijay Sudan about the company’s efforts to green its film and television productions. Vijay spoke about the studio’s recent production achievements, such as 24: Live Another Day’s success at becoming the first TV series to use 100% FSC-certified lumber for set construction, as well as the company’s ongoing efforts to manage waste.

“There’s a baseline of behind-the-scenes work that has continued for decades,” he said. “As we move forward from looking at our energy and carbon issues, we’re really looking at what goes into a production and what the environmental impacts are... we’re looking at waste issues and how we responsibly dispose of those materials and reuse them.”

Listen to Vijay’s full interview, which includes looks at how The X-Files event series was able to recycle “dirty” Styrofoam, the wardrobe department’s reuse policy, and House’s donation of the doors from its hospital sets to Habitat for Humanity.