Youth Leadership Award

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 under the age of 24
  • Be in your last year of high school or have completed your GED

Please check back for 2021 applications.

Previous Winners

2020 Winners

2019 Winners

  • Nathan Handberg

    Nathan Handberg is a recent graduate of  Freedom High School in Chantilly, Virginia. Nathan is a compassionate leader, having run their school’s LGBTQ club and…

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  • Jonathan Yannes

    Jonathan Yannes is a recent graduate of  James Hubert Blake High School in  Silver Spring, Maryland. Jonathan is  an outspoken leader in not only his school, b…

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  • Malik Ivey

    Malik Ivey is a  recent graduate of  the SEED School of Washington, DC. Malik brings energy, creativity, and curiosity to his many leadership roles. Malik is a…

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  • Jackson Newman

    Jackson Newman is a recent graduate of  George C. Marshall High School  in Falls Church, Virginia. Jack  is fierce advocate for LGBTQ youth in the DMV area. As…

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  • Hannah Jones

    Hannah Jones is as recent graduate of  Wakefield High School in Claremont, Virginia. Hannah is a natural leader, having served as the President of her school’s…

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  • Max Hancock

    Max Hancock is a recent graduate of Broadneck High School in Annapolis, Maryland. Max is an exemplary leader, having served as the President of his high school…

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2018 Winners

  • Zion Miller

    Zion Miller is a senior at Stonewall Jackson High School, in Manassas, Virginia. Zion is the president of Pride Club, Black Student Union, and Peer Diversity. …

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  • Leo Bassow

    Leo Bassow is a proud leading member of the School Without Walls’ Gender and Sexuality Alliance. An avid artist, Leo focuses much of his artwork around the ide…

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  • James van Kuilenburg

    James van Kuilenburg is a trans youth advocate in his school and community. He is the founding president of his school’s GSA, as well as the grassroots trans a…

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  • Vivian Soler

    Vivian Soler is a high school senior at the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program in Arlington, VA.Vivian’s work through a leadership class at H-B Woodlawn focused on…

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  • Grace Dolan-Sandrino

    Grace Dolan-Sandrino is an activist and advocate for marginalized youth. She has written for publications such as Teen Vogue, and The Washington Post, and has …

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  • Elizabeth Moore

    Elizabeth Moore graduated from Lake Braddock Secondary School in Virginia. As a senior, Elizabeth was Vice President of her GSA. Elizabeth focused on growing t…

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  • Addison Moore

    Addison Moore graduated from Paul International High School in Washington, DC. They co-founded their high school’s GSA to make the school safer for LGBTQ stude…

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  • Reeves Gift

    Reeves Gift is a Trinidadian-American filmmaker who strives to heal the world. His work with youth advocacy has come through engagement with his school communi…

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2017 Winners

  • Miles Max Davis-Matthews

    From advocating to have a GSA in his high school, to connecting his peers with resources, Miles is being acknowledged for his strong commitment to helping othe…

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  • Queen Griffin

    Queen has started her own organization, Keeping the Arts Alive (KAA), which advocates for arts education to remain a well funded area in schools and reached ou…

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  • Joshua Horvath

    Joshua is being recognized for his involvement in Wilson’s Gay-Straight Alliance, SMYAL’s Activist Camp, and his leadership in theatre.

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  • Brandon Odemns

    Brandon is being recognized for being an active member of his school community by being a leader and advocate in his school’s Student Government Association...

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  • Rowan Woldridge

    Rowan is being recognized for his ability to educate others about issues facing the transgender community and for his constant search to find justice.

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2016 Winners

  • Olatunji Coleman

    We are honoring Olatunji for his strength and perseverance in the face of bullying and mis- understanding at school, for his dedicated giving back to his commu…

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  • Nancy Brooks

    We are honoring Nancy for her integrity and drive, for her commitment to being an out and proud leader in her school, and for being a visible resource for her …

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  • Bennett Shoop

    We are honoring Bennett for their commitment to social justice, their perseverance in the face of bullying, and their demonstrated personal integrity.

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  • Azariah Kurlantzick

    We are honoring Azariah for their tenacity as an out LGBTQ leader, for their incredible intentionality in their approach to leadership, and for their unwaverin…

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  • Rami Zein

    We are honoring Rami for his perseverance as an out LGBTQ leader in the face of his personal obstacles.

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  • Monet Umana

    We are honoring Monet for her commitment to her radical politics, for her drive to eradicate spaces where people may feel disposable or undervalued...

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2015 Winners

  • Erika Johnson

    Erika Johnson is a recent Oxon Hill High School graduate where she was the president of her Gay Straight Alliance (GSA).

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  • Kaaliyah McDowell

    Kaali- yah was co-president of her GSA, in which she facilitated weekly conversations on is- sues facing LGBTQ people.

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  • Carlos McKnight

    Carlos is excited to advocate for issues such as workplace discrimination and adoption rights that many LGBTQ people still face.

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  • Maya Parker

    At Wanda Alston, Maya shined as a leader, using her motivation to work with her peers to realize their passions and support them in their struggles.

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  • Emily Pearson-Beck

    Emily Pearson-Beck graduated from Washington-Lee where she was Co-President for her school’s GSA. Recently, she organized a letter campaign to allow middle sch…

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