Rising Stars Grants - GLAAD Media Awards

The GLAAD Rising Stars Grant Program celebrates young people’s commitment to accelerating LGBTQ acceptance within their communities and culture at large.

Grants are offered to support young people who are leveraging media to move hearts and minds and create change.

Rising Stars at the GLAAD Media Awards

GLAAD will award Rising Stars Grants of $2,500 to young people (ages 18-30) for their commitment to a project that enhances intersectional LGBTQ media advocacy and representation in their communities. In 2018, GLAAD is introducing a Spanish Language and Latinx Media Rising Stars Grant, which will be awarded to a young person whose proposed project enhances LGBTQ media advocacy and representation in Spanish speaking and Latinx communities. Project submissions centered around Spanish Language and Latinx media will also be eligible for all grant categories.

In addition to the $2,500 grant, Rising Stars Grant recipients will attend the Rising Stars Luncheon and the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in either Los Angeles or New York City, including airfare and three-nights accommodations for the recipient and a guest.

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
  • increasing diversity of performers on college campuses by funding transgender entertainers and speakers
  • fostering conversation around diversity and inclusion in business through launching a podcast
  • and more!

Applications open for submissions on February 27th, 2018 and close March 18th, 2018 at midnight PST. All applicants and recipients will be notified via email by March 26th, 2018.

*All applicants are asked to hold the following dates on their calendars for the ceremonies in case they are selected: Tuesday, April 10th through Friday, April 13th and Thursday, May 3rd through Sunday, May 6th.

Apply for the Rising Stars Grant

Apply for the 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 response):

If awarded the GLAAD Rising Stars Grant, how would you incorporate LGBTQ media advocacy into your community?

  • How would you use this grant to create or improve a program in your community?
  • 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.

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

Key dates for applicants:

  • Monday, February 26th, 2018: applications available.
  • Sunday, March 18th, 2018: applications due by midnight PST.
  • Monday, March 26th, 2018: All applicants are notified of status; recipients notified.
  • Wednesday, April 11th, 2018: Select Rising Stars Grant recipient(s) to attend GLAAD Rising Stars Luncheon in Los Angeles; and Thursday, April 12th, 2018: Select Rising Stars Grant recipient(s) to attend GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles.
    • OR
  • Friday, May 4th, 2018: Select Rising Stars Grant recipient(s) to attend GLAAD Rising Stars Luncheon in New York City; and Saturday, May 5th, 2018: Select Rising Stars Grant recipient(s) to attend GLAAD Media Awards in New York City.

Rising Stars Sponsors

Rising Stars Alumni

Aisha Bibbs

Delta Air Lines Accelerating Acceptance Grant

C Mandler

Barilla Cultivation Grant

Dani Marrero Hi

Target Trailblazer Grant

Joon Park

Turner Visionary Grant

Kylan Kester

Coca-Cola Innovator 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


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 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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply for the 2018 Rising Stars Grants at the GLAAD Media Awards?
The 2018 Rising Stars Grants are available to a person or team of people, between the ages of 18 and 30, who are working to enhance LGBTQ representation within their communities and culture at large. Applicants can apply as individuals or as a team. However, only one grant will be given per initiative/project.
When are the applications due?
The 2018 Rising Stars Grants application is due Sunday, March 18th, 2018 by midnight PST.
When will the recipients be notified?
The 2018 Rising Stars Grants recipients will be notified by Friday, March 26th, 2018.
All applicants will be notified of their status via email. If you believe you have not been contacted regarding your application status by 3/26/18 please check your spam or social folders on your email account.
When will the awards be received?
Recipients will receive their grant (in the form of a check) and be honored at the GLAAD Rising Stars Luncheon on either April 11th, 2018 in Los Angeles or May 4th, 2018 in New York City.
Recipients will be assigned their luncheon date and location upon receiving their notification email and must confirm availability to attend the luncheon in order to receive the grant.
How are the recipients selected?
A GLAAD-appointed committee will select recipients based on the strength of the following criteria:
  • Applicant’s initiative positively affects marginalized communities, particularly LGBTQ people.
  • Applicant’s initiative uses media advocacy to enhance representation for LGBTQ people.
  • Applicant’s initiative uses an intersectional approach to LGBTQ advocacy.
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.

By applying for the Rising Stars Grants, you agree to these terms:

  • Only applicants who are at least eighteen (18) years of age at the time of application are eligible to apply.
  • 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.•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.