Rising Stars Grants for Spirit Day

GLAAD will award a 2019 Rising Stars Grant of $1,500 to a young person (ages 18-30) for their commitment to combating bullying and harassment experienced by LGBTQ youth.

The Rising Stars Grant for Spirit Day honors GLAAD’s annual Spirit Day, the largest and most visible LGBTQ anti-bullying campaign. Spirit Day represents a means of speaking out against LGBTQ bullying and standing with LGBTQ youth, who disproportionately face bullying and harassment because of their identities. The grant is eligible to LGBTQ young people who are working to accelerate acceptance for LGBTQ youth by focusing on anti-bullying initiatives in their communities. 

Former Rising Stars Grant recipients have been honored for their thoughtful work to address many issues facing their local communities, including:

  • eliminating stigma experienced by undocumented queer youth through social media campaigns
  • educating youth audiences on gender, sexuality, and acceptance through a viral YouTube web series
  • and more!

Applications open for submissions on Monday, October 14, 2019 and close Friday, October 25, 2019 at midnight PST. All applicants and winning recipient will be notified via email by Thursday, October 31, 2019.

 

Apply for a Rising Stars Grant

To apply for a Rising Stars Grant, applicants must complete the form below and attach a short essay responding to the prompt below.

Short essay prompt (300-500 word limit): 

If awarded the GLAAD Rising Stars Grant, how would you use this grant to create or improve an anti-bullying program or initiative in your community? Additionally, how and in what ways would you use the media to amplify your mission and increase your initiative’s impact? 

Please provide a clear goal for your initiative as well as what strategies you plan to reach that goal.

APPLICATION FORM

Files must be less than 2 MB.
Allowed file types: txt pdf doc docx.

Key dates for applicants:

  • Monday, October 14, 2019: Applications available
  • Sunday, October 27, 2019: Applications due by midnight PST.
  • Friday, November 1, 2019: All applicants are notified of status; recipients notified.

Rising Stars Sponsors

Barilla 2018                  
 

Rising Stars Alumni

Abbey Perl

Delta Air Lines Accelerating Acceptance Grant

Aisha Bibbs

Delta Air Lines Accelerating Acceptance Grant

Akila Prayaga

Barilla Cultivation Grant

C Mandler

Barilla Cultivation Grant

Dani Marrero Hi

Target Trailblazer Grant

Daniel Downer

Barilla Cultivation Grant

Giselle Ariel Bleuz

Netflix Rising Stars Grant

Gio Bravo

Barilla Cultivation Grant

Jackson Bird

Turner Visionary Grant

Jada Cato

Rising Stars Grant

Joon Park

Turner Visionary Grant

Kosoko Jackson

Delta Air Lines Accelerating Acceptance Grant

Kylan Kester

Coca-Cola Innovator Grant

Leah Juliett

Delta Air Lines Accelerating Acceptance Grant

Lindsay Amer

Barilla Cultivation Grant

Lizeth Urdiales

Delta Air Lines Accelerating Acceptance Grant

Monique Swirsky

Coca-Cola Innovator Grant

Prince Shakur

Turner Visionary Grant

Priscila Alegria Nunez

Telemundo Innovation Grant

River Gallo

Barilla Cultivation Grant

Shayna Warner

Turner Visionary Grant

Zizi Bandera

Wells Fargo Leadership Grant

Zolita

Rising Stars Grant

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Zolita (she/her) is an independent pop artist and filmmaker from Los Angeles whose music blends R&B and dark pop, and lyrically draws on her experiences as a queer woman. She graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the arts with a degree in film, and uses music videos as her artivist medium of choice. She has built a loyal fanbase and widespread industry respect through her self-directed and produced music videos which collectively have over 20 million views. She is known for a distinctly LGBTQ feminist message and witchy aesthetic, which has resonated with young people around the world. As a Rising Stars recipient, Zolita created and released her most recent music video “Truth Tea.”

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Jada Cato (she/her), originally from Georgia, is a singer, songwriter, model, and thespian. After graduating from Birmingham-Southern College in 2017 with a Theatre major and Religion minor, she was contracted as a featured singer by Royal Caribbean. Now completing her first year back on land, she has been seen in “Hello Dolly,” “Fun Home,” “Spring Awakening,” and will play Serena in “Legally Blonde the Musical” at the end of the summer. Along with theatre, Jada is an avid contemporary worship leader and has a heart for service. As a Rising Stars Grant Recipient, Jada will create “The Clay Collective,” a space to showcase musicians, playwrights, and other types of artists that cater to the inclusion of LGBTQ people, people of color, and women. The Clay Collective will also serve as a safe space of worship for LGBTQ youth and adults with nights of worship and conferences dedicated to sharing the gospels with those who are otherwise marginalized.

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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.

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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.

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Dani Marrero Hi is a Mexican immigrant raised in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. She is the creator of Neta, an online multimedia platform for citizen journalism to amplify the voices of border residents on social and political issues. As a Rising Stars Grant recipient, Dani will continue working with the dedicated team of storytellers in the Rio Grande Valley to keep creating positive and authentic media representation for border residents.

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Daniel Downer (he/him) is a community advocate based in Orlando, Florida. As a same gender-loving man of color living in Deep South, he saw the need to fight the rising epidemic of HIV in his local community. Daniel created The Bros in Convo Initiative, an organization that empowers and mobilizes young bisexual and same gender-loving men of color at risk and living with HIV to unapologetically live their best and healthiest lives. As a Rising Stars Grant Recipient, he will create digital content to amplify The Bros in Convo Initiative's message of holistic health and wellness for bisexual and same gender-loving men of color not only in Orlando but the state of Florida.

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Jackson Bird (he/him) is a YouTuber, podcaster, and activist based in New York City. His work is primarily dedicated to demystifying the transgender experience by sharing his and others’ stories online. As a Rising Stars Grant Recipient, he will produce a second season of his podcast Transmission, an interview-based show that gives transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people a chance to tell their stories and find representation while also welcoming cisgender people to learn a little more about the diversity, nuances, challenges, and joys of the transgender community.

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Kosoko Jackson (he/him/his) is a Maryland native. He is the author of A Place For Wolves, a diverse Historical Thriller Young Adult Novel, coming out Summer 2019 by Sourcebooks Fire, and advocates for an increase in diverse authors and characters within the YA literary canon. Kosoko will continue championing literary diversity by using the Rising Stars Grant to create a mentorship program for queer authors, who can learn from a published queer author about craft, brand management, and the world of publishing for two months, culminating in a pitch event to literary agents & sponsored attendance at a literary convention.

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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.

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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.

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Prince Shakur is a queer Jamaican American artist born and raised in Cleveland, OH, and holds a degree in Creative Writing from Ohio University. After the shooting death of Michael Brown, he dove headfirst into activism, including visiting Ferguson, marching for NUIT DEBOUT in Paris and protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, ND. The Rising Stars Grant will support his work as a freelance writer for publications like Teen Vogue, and his project Two Woke Minds, a travel series highlighting social issues abroad and in the U.S.

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Lindsay Amer is a queer activist, artist, storyteller, and educator based in New York City. They create and host Queer Kid Stuff, an LGBTQ+ educational web series for all ages on YouTube. Lindsay strongly believes that queer-inclusive media representation for kids helps create a kinder and more equal future. As a Rising Stars Grant Recipient, they will produce a third season of Queer Kid Stuff, focusing on age-appropriate queer-inclusive sex education and introducing new vocabulary and concepts to the series, like "non-binary," and how to think about gender and sexuality as spectrums.

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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.

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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.

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Priscila Alegria Nunez Priscila a.k.a. Pea (they/them/theirs) is a non-binary cinematographer and documentarian. Born in Trujillo, Peru, Pea grew up with with an activist mom, who brought them to the streets to protest corruption and unemployment, the aftermath of an era of terrorism and dictatorship they were born into. In search for greater opportunities, Pea arrived in the U.S. at 15 and they began their journey as a visual storyteller. Now a proud graduate of UCLA’s film school, Pea has shot documentaries, short narratives, and is about to embark on their first VR docudrama with their team and the generous contribution of GLAAD’S Rising Stars--all to make their mama and Pachamama proud.

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Shayna Maci Warner (she/her/hers) is an enthusiastically queer artist and scholar graduating from UCLA this June with a major in World Arts and Cultures, and a minor in Film. She is the managing editor of OutWrite Newsmagazine, an Assistant Programmer for Outfest Los Angeles, and a documentary filmmaker whose first short doc will premiere this spring. The Rising Stars Grant will allow her to expand her print and video interview series ‘The First Time I Saw Myself,’ a collaboration with OutWrite Newsmagazine that chronicles individual reactions to LGBTQ story lines in an effort to show the tangible impacts made by missteps and triumphs in queer representation.

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Zizi Bandera (they/them) is a queer, trans, Latinx, child of immigrants. Zizi was born and raised in Los Angeles, holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Mills College and is the volunteer Director of Immigration Policy for the Oakland LGBTQ+ Center. They are deeply invested in immigrant families and believes they are the catalysts for radical and long-term healing for our LGBTQ+ community. As a Rising Stars recipient, Zizi is thrilled beyond thrilled to partner with Somos Familia, a Bay-area organization, to harness the power of Latinx parents of LGBTQ+ children through a statewide convening.

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River Gallo (he/him) is a Salvadoran-American filmmaker, actor, writer, model and intersex advocate from New Jersey. He is a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Experimental Theatre Wing and the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts MFA program. "Ponyboi" his USC thesis which he wrote, co-directed, and acted in, is the first narrative film created by and starring an out intersex person in the history of cinema. He is the CEO and co-founder of Gaptoof Entertainment, a multi-media production house in Los Angeles, which focuses on creating inclusive spaces for POC, LGBTQIA+, and womxn narratives. As a Rising Stars recipient, River plans to create a mentorship program to empower LGBTQ youth who are interested in filmmaking and storytelling.

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Abbey Perl (she/her and they/them) is a student at Southern New Hampshire University studying Business Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Kind Mind Collective, a non-profit organization promoting kindness and compassion through education while integrating pop-culture. Perl is also the co-author of “Life On The Outside,” an anti-bullying comic-book that has been used in schools and universities across the country to better educate youth about bullying. As a Rising Stars Grant Recipient, Perl will fund her LGBTQ-inclusive, anti-bullying comic-book program that is used in schools and universities across the country to better educate youth about bullying.

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Leah Juliett (they/them/theirs) is an award-winning speaker, writer, and political changemaker from Connecticut. Leah is the Founder and Executive Director of the #MarchAgainstRevengePorn, an internationally-acclaimed cyber civil rights organization dedicated to combating revenge porn through a series of nationwide protest marches. Leah has discussed social issues on CNN, MTV, Buzzfeed, Teen Vogue, and Seventeen Magazine. Leah currently serves as an Intern for United States Senator Chris Murphy. As a Rising Stars Grant recipient, Leah will organize and host the National LGBTQ+ Youth Town Hall in New York City to connect legislators with young voters before the 2018 Midterm Elections.

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Akila Prayaga (she/her/hers) is a senior at Cornell University. On campus, she has helped lead several LGBTQ+ organizations and events. Akila has continued her outreach off campus through her involvement in diversity organizations and conferences like Grace Hopper and Out for Undergrad. As a Rising Star grantee, Akila will expand her website, “The LGBTQ Agenda,” that promotes opportunities, conferences, and other resources for queer students interested in professional careers. to include interviews with queer professionals from a variety of backgrounds, professional skills webinars, and broadening the scope of the website to be the best resource it can be for queer students. She hopes to empower LGBTQ+ students to be the representation that the corporate world currently lacks.

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Giselle Ariel Bleuz (she/hers) is a writer, actress, filmmaker and media educator. She began her filmmaking work as a youth producer with the Global Action Project’s SupaFriends social justice media arts leadership program and has since gone on to write, direct, and act in over six short films—including Over Stigmatized, which has been screened in festivals across the United States. Bleuz was recently featured in both Buzzfeed’s and HuffPost’s “10 Trans Filmmakers You Should Know.” In 2018, Giselle was awarded the Soros Justice Fellowship. Giselle will use her Rising Stars Grant to support her advocacy in social justice media making.

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Gio Bravo “El Transformer” (he/him/his) is a Mexican-American trans man, born and raised in the beautiful city of Long Beach in Southern California. He is the first trans person in the Regional Mexican music genre, and also founder of ‘Insurgent Couture’ an LGBTQ based clothing brand. As a Rising Stars Grant recipient, Gio will continue to strive for trans/LGBTQ visibility on mainstream media through his passion for music.

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