SMYAL Scholarships

SMYAL’s scholarships recognize outstanding LGBTQ+ student leaders who have demonstrated personal growth and a commitment to creating change in their school or community while remaining unapologetically themselves.


These scholarships are intended to help offset the cost of continuing education and are awarded directly to recipients entering their first year of post-secondary education, which may include technical or trade school, as well as two- and four-year colleges. Funds are paid directly to the student and may be used for everything from tuition and housing, books and technology, school travel costs, or materials for your program.

There are two scholarship funds, both with the same application process and deadline! All applicants will automatically be considered for both awards.

Founded in 2015, SMYAL’s LGBT Youth Leadership Awards (YLA) provide a total of up to $25,000 to 5-8 student leaders each year. YLA winners receive up to $5,000 each for their extraordinary leadership and impact in their communities. Learn more about past YLA winners here.

Named in honor of Sophie Magerl, Sophie’s Live Out Loud Award (LOLA) will provide a $5,000 scholarship for one student leader who embodies Sophie’s values of self-expression, creative arts, empowerment, resilience, and dedication to community. Sophie was an inspiring 17-year-old who lived out loud and fought for others to be able to express themselves freely. Learn more about Sophie here.


  • Self-identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community
  • Be age 24 or younger
  • Either attended high school or completed GED in the D.C. Metro Area*
  • Be starting your first semester of post-secondary education (2 or 4 year college, university, trade school, technical school etc.) by Fall 2023
  • Thus, eligible applicants include graduating seniors, youth who took a gap year or two, youth who are completing a GED this Spring, etc.– as long as you are planning to start continuing education this upcoming year. Students returning to higher education (such as upperclassmen) are not eligible for this award.
  • Consider your comfort level with being selected. Winners will have their picture and biography publicized.

*The DC Metro Area includes Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas in Maryland and Virginia. If you live in the DC Metro area but attended high school out of the area, you may still be eligible.

Email [email protected] if you have questions about your eligibility.


We know that not every leader is the loudest voice in the room. 

Leadership can be, but is not limited to:

  • Participate in/lead a GSA or other student club
  • Supporting your community or friends through the pandemic
  • Working in the community to increase education and awareness
  • Involvement in social movements like BLM, climate action, gun control, etc.
  • Hosting conversations at a religious or community-based organization
  • Involvement in political advocacy
  • Arts activism


Applicants should also demonstrate personal growth and the desire to make a difference in the world.


To apply for the Youth Leadership Awards and Sophie’s Live Out Loud Award, you will need:

  • A personal essay (maximum 1,500 words)
    • Your essay should address the following prompt: “Tell us about your journey as LGBTQ leader: what obstacles have you overcome, how have you positively impacted the lives of those around you in your school or local community, and how do you hope to continue to grow in the future?” Make sure your essay answers all 3 components, although it does not necessarily need to go in that order.
  • Two letters of support from individuals who can speak to your suitability for this award
  • A list of programs where you have submitted active applications and any acceptance letters you’ve received