Rising Stars Grants Program

Meet The 2017 Rising Stars

Aisha Bibbs


Aisha Bibbs is a senior, Communication major at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. She currently serves as the marketing director for U of L’s LGBT Center, an organization dedicated to meeting the needs of LGBTQ identified students in the city. She plans to continue her professional development and career in an MBA program this upcoming fall. As a Rising Stars Grant recipient, she will work to create mass media content, such as design of branding, training, and student resource materials, for the both the university and the city of Louisville to further promote equality and inclusivity in the workplace.

C Mandler


C Mandler is a junior, double major in Philosophy and Written Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. They run a campus DIY music venue called the Root Cellar, sing in their school’s sole a cappella group, and work as an Event Coordinator at the Difference and Media Project. They recently presented at Princeton University’s Compass Philosophy Workshop, which was specifically held for women, non-binary, and trans people in Philosophy, and are in the process of self-publishing their third book of poetry. C will use their role as a Rising Stars Grant recipient to continue to bring queer and trans musicians of color to Bard to perform, lecture, and workshop with students and faculty on campus and beyond.

Joon Park


Joon Park is a junior, Economics major at Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts. Intersectionality is Joon's favorite word: they believe that the intersections of being a first generation college student from an immigrant family and their gender non-binary, queer, Asian, and Korean-American identities have played a pivotal role in shaping their lived experiences. Much of their activism focuses on fostering intersectional spaces, specifically for Queer/Trans People of Color. As a Rising Stars Grant recipient, Joon plans on strengthening the relationship between the queer alumni network and the current undergraduate LGBTQ+ student body at Boston College, and creating a robust, united front that can help facilitate the ongoing creation of intersectional and LGBTQ-inclusive spaces at their university.

Kylan Kester


Kylan Kester is a junior majoring in Business Marketing with a minor in International Affairs at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. On campus, Kylan serves as a fierce advocate for innovation and inclusion, and serves as an editor at large with LinkedIn’s Student Voices platform and The Huffington Post. Kylan prides themself as a global citizen who has been recognized for intersectional leadership and outstanding achievement by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Apple, Proctor & Gamble, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Black College Hall of Fame. As a Rising Stars Grant recipient, Kylan will build a holistic multimedia platform that speaks to the mission of diversifying the LGBTQ narrative by covering underrepresented stories on politics, entrepreneurship, world-travel, and technology..

Lizeth Urdiales


Lizeth Urdiales is a senior majoring in Mexican American Studies with a certificate in Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofits at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. Lizeth is a Queer, Undocumented, Latinx, differently-abled student, and her work at UT Austin has predominantly surrounded assistance for Undocumented communities. Upon graduation, Lizeth will pursue an MBA in Entrepreneurship, and will use her role as a Rising Stars Grant recipient to empower Undocumented communities in the workplace by by creating awareness for workers’ rights abuses, and by building stronger relationships between Undocumented and U.S. Resident and Citizen allies regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, class, nationality, ability, and citizenship status.

Monique Swirsky


Monique Swirsky is a junior, Environmental Studies major with a focus in sustainable food production and minors in entrepreneurship, leadership studies, and philosophy at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina. In her community, Monique is a member of the NAACP, and is currently doing research on how to create more empowering college campuses for LGBTQ+ students in NC in the wake of House Bill 2. As a Rising Stars grant recipient she will establish an online and print news source focused specifically on highlighting marginalized communities, such as LGBTQ people, people of color, and religious minorities, and highlight what allies of these communities can do to get involved and help combat active hate groups in her university hometown.

The GLAAD Rising Star Grants Program was created to celebrate young people’s commitment to enhancing LGBTQ representation within their communities and culture at large.

Grants are offered annually to support graduating college seniors and rising college seniors in their initiatives to enhance intersectional LGBTQ advocacy and representation.


Applications for 2018 are not available yet. Sign up below to receive updates on Rising Stars opportunities:

GLAAD will award 2017 inaugural Rising Stars Grants to seniors graduating from the Campus Ambassador program, and rising senior Campus Ambassadors.

Rising Stars Young Professional Grant
Graduating Campus Ambassadors (current seniors) are eligible to receive a $5,000 prize awarded for their commitment to a project that enhances intersectional LGBTQ media advocacy and representation, post-graduation, as a young professional.

Rising Stars Rising Senior Grant
Rising seniors Campus Ambassadors (current juniors) are eligible to receive a $2,500 prize to go toward an initiative that enhances intersectional LGBTQ media advocacy and representation within their university.

Who can apply for the Rising Stars Grant?
The 2017 Rising Stars Grants* are only available to GLAAD Campus Ambassadors. *This criteria is subject to change for future awards
When are the applications due?
The 2017 Rising Stars Award application is due Monday, March 13, 2017 at 9am ET.
When will the recipients be announced?
The 2017 Rising Stars Award recipients will be announced Friday, March 17, 2017.
When will the awards be received?
Rising Stars Grant recipients will receive their awards at one of Rising Stars Awards luncheons. Recipients will attend the award luncheon in either Los Angeles on March 31, 2017 or in New York City on May 5, 2017.
How are the recipients selected?
A committee of GLAAD staff will select awardees based on the strength of the following criteria:
  • Proposed initiative positively affects marginalized communities, particularly LGBTQ people
  • Proposed initiative uses an intersectional approach to LGBTQ advocacy
  • Proposed initiative uses media advocacy to enhance representation for LGBTQ people
Why would you like to know my Demographic Information (gender identity, sexual identity, and racial identity, etc.)?
Even though giving us this information is purely on a voluntary basis, we would like this info in order to make sure we are reaching a wide and diverse population of potential entrants, especially within the LGBTQ community. NOTE: Providing or not providing us with this information will not in any way prejudice our decision-making/judging process.

Terms and Conditions for Rising Stars Grants

By applying for the 2017 Rising Star Grant, you agree to these terms:
•    Only students attending universities of the fifty (50) United States and District of Columbia who are at least eighteen (18) years of age at the time of application are eligible to apply.
•    All applicants must be currently enrolled as a full time students at an accredited college or university.
•    All applicants must be enrolled as either a junior or senior.
•    All applicants must be currently participating in GLAAD’s Campus Ambassador program (2016-2017).
•    Applicants are only eligible to apply for one grant. 
•    GLAAD reserves the right to change the grant programs at any time, including available grants, deadlines, requirements, award amounts or other program details.
•    Grant recipients are not to use scholarship funding in a way that runs opposition to GLAAD’s mission of advocating for the LGBTQ community.
•    Grant recipients are required to submit a current photo and submit a release granting GLAAD permission to use their photo on glaad.org and in other marketing communications.

•    In accepting a grant from GLAAD the applicant agrees to waive and release, GLAAD, its officers, associates and partner organizations from any and all liability, including but not limited to, any liability arising from the negligence or fault of the entities or persons released, for death, disability, personal injury, property damage, property theft, or actions of any kind which may occur to you during or after the grant is received, including during or after any travel undertaken as part of the grant

•    Officers, directors, employees and members of the selection committee of GLAAD and any parent, subsidiaries, affiliates, distributors, retailers, sales representatives, advertising and promotion agencies (all such individuals and entities collectively referred to herein as the “Entities”), are ineligible to apply.

•    The selection committee’s decision is final.

Attending the GLAAD Rising Stars Grant Luncheon and the GLAAD Media Awards:

•    If the grant recipient is under twenty-one (21) at the time of the GLAAD Media Awards, the grant recipient’s guest must be a parent or legal guardian.

•    If the grant recipient is over twenty one (21) at the time of the GLAAD Media Awards, their guest must be a minimum of eighteen (18) years of age or older, or if such travel companion is under the age of majority in his/her/their state of residence (a “minor”), the grant recipient must be such the minor’s parent or legal guardian, or travel with the written permission of such parent or legal guardian in form and substance acceptable to GLAAD its sole discretion.  

•    Grantee and his, her or their travel companion must travel together on the same itinerary and must possess all required travel documents, including visas and valid passports, if and as applicable, and comply with any applicable hotel check-in requirements, such as presentation of a major credit card.  All aspects of the travel portions of the grant must be conducted on such dates as determined by GLAAD in its sole discretion.  The dates of departure and return are subject to change at GLAAD’s sole discretion.  Airfare may not include government taxes, Passenger Facility Charge or September 11th Security Fee.  Airline tickets are non-refundable/non-transferable and are not valid for upgrades and/or frequent flyer miles.  Other travel restrictions and blackout dates may apply.  All airline tickets are subject to the vagaries of flight variation, work stoppages, and schedule or route changes.  GLAAD reserves the right to structure travel routes and select hotels in its sole discretion.  The round trip air transportation element for any travel begins and ends at the point of departure.  Room taxes and other hotel fees are not included and if applicable may be payable at the time of check-out by the guest.  A deposit or payment in advance, or presentation of a credit card by the grantee, may be required at the time of check-in at the hotel.  Any hotel cancellations or changes to hotel reservations after confirmation must be made with the hotel directly, and the grantee is solely responsible for any charges and/or fees arising from changes made directly with the hotel.  

•    In the event the Grantee and/or his, her, their travel companion/s engages in behavior that, as determined by GLAAD in its sole discretion, is obnoxious or threatening, illegal or that is intended to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person, GLAAD reserves the right to terminate the trip or other applicable experience early, in whole or in part, and send the Grantee and/or his or her or their travel companion/s home with no further compensation.

•    All expenses and incidental travel costs not expressly stated in the description above, including but not limited to, ground transportation, meals, incidentals, passenger tariffs or duties, surcharges, airport fees, service charges or facility charges, personal charges at lodging, security fees, taxes, gratuity or other expenses are the sole responsibility of the grantee.  

•    In the event that the Event listed in the Grant description does not or cannot take place as scheduled or at all, for reasons including but not limited to scheduling conflicts, cancellations, postponement, an event of “Force Majeure”or for any other reason, then the remaining components, if any, of the event shall constitute full satisfaction of GLAAD’s obligation to the grantee, and no other or additional compensation will be awarded.