Isaiah Johnson

Isaiah Johnson
AMP GRANT INNOVATOR | @beanstalkproject

Isaiah Johnson (he, him, his) is an avid gamer with a passion for social justice. Early in his college career, he had the privilege of working with the Marcus Foster Education Institute to administer scholarships for young people of color. As a young Black person looking to build community, the work resonated with Isaiah: At the time, he was enrolled in a technology training program where he hoped to create positive social impact through better cultural representation in video games. But he soon found that the program had a toxic culture and quit, wishing that more spaces invested in a person’s well-being and mental health.

Inspired by this lack of awareness and a great deal of research on mental health, Isaiah founded Project Beanstalk, a game development company rooted in social-emotional learning. With Project L.I.Y.T’s support, Isaiah launched Project Beanstalk in 2020. “I want to create diversity in the game industry—but it’s also about creating healthy environments that respect everyone’s mental and physical health,” Isaiah says. Project Beanstalk’s most recent project, Heart to Heart, offers players multiple scenarios where they have the opportunity to engage with a character experiencing a mental health crisis and respond in different ways.

“L.I.Y.T helped give me an early win, and helped form what my project could be,” he says. The community-centered design process affirmed his earlier research, and the guidance of the Project L.I.Y.T team informed the evolution of several games. As someone who wasn’t familiar with the HIV space, Project L.I.Y.T “taught me a lot more about the stigma” associated with an HIV diagnosis and inspired him to feature an HIV-positive doctor in a game. Isaiah hopes that Project Beanstalk not only helps people support others facing difficult moments but creates space for players to learn, empathize and grow.

Isaiah and the Project Beanstalk team will begin fundraising in early 2021. They are actively searching for partners that
provide social-emotional learning platforms for young people so that they can build on the foundation created with Project L.I.Y.T and take Project Beanstalk to the next level. “Thanks to Project L.I.Y.T! Without their involvement, our project wouldn’t be half as far as it is right now.”

This Amp Grantee Innovator Profile was developed as part of the Positive Action for Youth (PAFY) initiative and the Amp Grant initiative. PAFY advances ViiV Healthcare’s commitment to supporting a range of community-driven activities that amplify the voices of young leaders and activate innovative solutions to combat HIV, with the ultimate goal of empowering youth with the tools, networks and resources they need to seek and stay engaged in care. Learn more about ViiV programs and initiatives at, and on Twitter at @ViiVUS

Illustrations provided by Farah Jeune, artist and creator/producer/host of Farenheight TV.

ZonaSegura ZonaSegura is a trauma-informed youth-centered innovative mobile solution to address teen dating violence in Honduras. Learn more about ZonaSegura on our program page.