Co-Founder of A Very Special Christmas
Over the last 10 years, Bobby Shriver has co-founded three organizations to help eliminate the financial and health emergencies threatening the people of Africa. Those organizations are DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa), ONE.ORG and (PRODUCT) RED. In addition, Bobby is working locally, currently serving his second term as City Councilman of Santa Monica.
Robert Sargent Shriver III was born on April 28, 1954, in Chicago. He is the oldest child of the late R. Sargent Shriver, Jr., who started the Peace Corps and created President Johnson's War on Poverty programs (e.g., Head Start, The Job Corps) and the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who founded the Special Olympics.
After graduating cum laude from Yale College, Shriver began a career as a journalist, working for the Annapolis Evening Capitol in Maryland. From there, he followed a traditional journalist's odyssey, from Chicago's City News Bureau to the Chicago Daily News, and then the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. He later left the newspaper business to attend law school. Upon graduation in 1981 from Yale Law, he returned to Southern California to clerk for Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt at the Federal Court of Appeals for the Ninth Judicial Circuit. After his clerkship, Shriver moved to New York, where, with former United States Defense Secretary Harold Brown and James D. Wolfensohn, he worked in the venture capital partnership of the Wolfensohn firm.
In 1987, Shriver produced the first-ever primetime program on the Special Olympics World Games for ABC. That same year, he produced (with Jimmy and Vicki Iovine) the first of nine A Very Special Christmas records (two of which were recorded live at The White House). The success of these two projects led him to form Special Olympic Productions, an on-going entity for fundraising through entertainment-related projects. These projects have raised more than $100 million to support Special Olympics organizations around the world.
In 1999, one of the Very Special Christmas artists, Bono, asked Shriver to help him with the Jubilee 2000 campaign. The goal behind Jubilee was to cancel the debt of the world's poorest nations by building political support with a petition drive. Six million signatures had been collected in Europe, but only six thousand had been collected in the United States. Shriver advised that, rather than collect signatures, they should lobby Congress to "get the check" necessary to finance debt cancellation. Bono and Shriver went to work recruiting Republicans and in 2000, Congressman John Kasich led the floor fight to increase the $60 million allocated for African debt relief to $435 million.
The debt-relief successes in Washington enabled Bono and Shriver to found DATA. DATA works with African leaders to determine which anti-AIDS and poverty interventions are working and which are not, as well as to do policy research on G8 government's budgets. In 2002, President George W. Bush proposed $15 billion in the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
In 2004, Bono and Shriver again teamed up, this time to form the ONE Campaign to build grassroots support for DATA's lobbying goals. In 2008, DATA combined with ONE. This unified team continues to build on its grass-roots movement of 2.4 million Americans calling for the U.S. and all G8 governments to help Africans fight AIDS and end extreme poverty.
In 2006, Bono and Shriver founded PRODUCT (RED) to fight the Africa AIDS epidemic with two other powerful forces - producers of world-class consumer goods and world-class shoppers. (RED) is a business model, not a charity; corporations advertise their (PRODUCT) RED products as they would any other product, but each time someone buys a (PRODUCT) RED product, up to 50% of the gross profit goes to The Global Fund (www.theglobalfund.org), which - like PEPFAR - provides AIDS medicine funding to African countries based on proven results.
Shriver also produced two movies, True Lies, directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Mary, Mother of Jesus, for NBC, where he joined his mother Eunice Kennedy Shriver as an executive producer.
In 2004 Shriver ran and was elected to the Santa Monica City Council by the highest percentage of voters in that city's 120-year history. Re-elected in 2008 by an even larger number of voters, he continues his work to reduce homelessness in the city and across Los Angeles County, with special emphasis on housing homeless veterans of U.S. Armed Forces. He also leads the campaign to clean up Santa Monica Bay.
Shriver lives in Santa Monica, California, with his wife Malissa Feruzzi and daughters Natasha and Rosemary.