The five-time Grammy winner announced The Rocket Fund, aimed at ending the AIDS pandemic, on June 5, saying it is "deeply personal"
Siwa, 20, is dressing as The Rocket Man himself to support Elton John in the launch of his new initiative, The Rocket Fund, which was announced during Pride Month and aims to accelerate the progress toward ending AIDS for all. Even though the Dance Moms star is not personally affected by the AIDS epidemic, she tells PEOPLE exclusively that "so many of my people" are, so it's important to her to be a part of it.
"Whether that's people that I know personally or people that I don't know personally that are just in my same family — LGBTQ community, young people," Siwa says. "This new Rocket Fund launch is going to be such a great thing for the world because I think it's going to educate and fund and really just bring awareness — more than there already is — and help take away stigma."
"That is just going to be such a beautiful thing," the singer adds.
The #InnerElton social media challenge is all about allies showing their support for the new Rocket Fund. In an exclusive statement to PEOPLE, John, 76, explained that this challenge — and the initiative as a whole — intends to "make sure no one gets left behind in the fight to end AIDS."
To demonstrate her advocacy for the cause, Siwa recreated a fiery orange and red look from the 2019 movie Rocketman.
The Rocket Fund was announced on June 5 — exactly 42 years from the day the Centers for Disease Control released its first report on what would become the AIDS epidemic.
Created as an extension of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which is expanding government and donor budgets for issues related to the cause by $50 million, this $125 million initiative will spend three years focusing on stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS in what David Furnish, John's husband and Elton John AIDS Foundation co-founder, describes as "vulnerable communities."
The Fund will attend to discrimination on small and large-scale projects, including working to decriminalize same-sex behavior in 11 focus countries and strengthen the capacity of local LGBTQ+ civil society to advocate for changes in several others.
John, who established his foundation in 1992, called The Rocket Fund "deeply personal" and said he hopes it will "champion equality and safety to be authentically be who you are" — a sentiment he certainly helped instill in Siwa.
"He just has always been so supportive, so uplifting, so inspiring," Siwa revealed.
According to The Rocket Fund, some of those most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS are members of the LGBTQ community and young people — more than half the new global HIV diagnoses impact youth ages 13-24. As someone who fits into those categories, Siwa says she hopes John's work through both his foundation and this new initiative will touch people on a deeper level.
"Whatever Mr. John wants, Mr. John gets, and so I think that that's really good that we have that on our side," Siwa joked. "But I also just hope that the weirdness or awkwardness that HIV and AIDS are surrounded by goes away."
Furnish, 60, tells PEOPLE exclusively that a key element of The Rocket Fund is to give those impacted "a voice in their own care."
Every minute, three people around the world are diagnosed with AIDS — but many go undiagnosed too, according to The Rocket Fund. In the United States, approximately 13 percent of the 1.2 million people with HIV are unaware of it and need access to testing.
To address that issue, Furnish says The Rocket Fund will "support and partner with innovators who provide HIV and AIDS health education, services, and care that are localized, direct, responsive and affordable.”
By 2027, the Rocket fund says they will empower 500,000 adolescents and young people to access quality sexual and mental health services.
The five-time Grammy winner called the epidemic "an issue of equality" and noted that The Rocket Man Fund gives "everyone an equal chance to protect themselves and those they love" while protecting "the most marginalized communities from discrimination."
"Each of us can play our part in spreading this message," John said.
Siwa, who first met John when she was 15, says she feels a special connection to the iconic artist. She recalls picking up the phone a day after she came out and, to her surprise, heard John on the other line. She said the two went on to speak for 10 or 20 minutes.
"For him to take the time to call little 17-year-old me the day after I came out — Elton John did that — like that's Elton John, legend. The legend of all legends did that," the dancer said. "That's how you know he's a good person."
The TIME 100 honoree, who came out in January 2021, explained that in the moment, she didn't see the magnitude of her joining the LGBTQ community.
"I didn't really realize what I was doing," she confessed. "I know that sounds crazy, but I just kind of did it. I just came out and was like, 'Yeah, this is me,' and I didn't realize at the time. Now looking back I'm like, 'Whoa, kid you did that at 17 with a kid fanbase?! Like that's crazy, good for you.'"
She continued: "I'm grateful that I was able to have such a good circle around me at the time. But I think that that's something that's really hard for a lot of people — when you don't have that good bubble around you. And you just gotta find your people.”
"You have to find your chosen family — they matter so much," she said.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up to date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
In January, the "Boomerang" singer celebrated the two-year anniversary of her coming out with an Instagram post: "Two years ago today now looking back on everything…. I'm SO proud of 17-year-old JoJo," Siwa wrote in the caption.
The snapshot featured Siwa wearing a "BEST. GAY. COUSIN. EVER." T-shirt, which she previously posted to come out as a member of the LGBTQ community.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.