Youth Leadership Awards

The SMYAL LGBT Youth Leadership Awards are individual post-secondary education scholarships of up to $5,000 for Washington, DC Metro Area youth who have demonstrated leadership in their school or community.

The SMYAL LGBT Youth Leadership Award Program will provide up to $20,000 of financial support to offset costs related to continuing ones education, including (but not limited to) technical, and trade school, and two and four year colleges/ universities. Individual awards range up to $5,000 and are paid directly to the student when they begin attending their program of choice.

Self-identified members of the LGBTQ community from the DC Metro Area, who have demonstrated personal growth and leadership in their school or community are encouraged to apply!


  • Self-identify as  a member of the LGBTQ community
  • Have demonstrated personal growth and leadership in your community.
  • Not be related to, the spouse of, the domestic partner of any Selection Committee member or SMYAL board or staff member.
  • Consider your comfort level with being selected. Winners will have their picture and biography publicized.
  • Be age 24 or younger
  • Either be in your last year of high school, have already graduated high school, or complete a GED by the end of Spring 2021



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, you will need:

  • A personal essay (maximum 1,500 words) that addresses the question, “As an out LGBTQ leader, how have you positively impacted the lives of those around you in your school or local community?”
  • 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

Applications for the 2021 YLA have now closed. Please check back for information on the 2022 awards.


Previous Winners

2021 Winners

2020 Winners

2019 Winners

2018 Winners

2017 Winners

2016 Winners

2015 Winners