Youth Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Nonprofit Seeks Judges for Film and Art Contests

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Youth Creating Change is a California-based nonprofit (501 c3) dedicated to placing young people’s voices and creativity at the center of suicide prevention and mental health programming. Our mission is to educate young people about mental health, suicide prevention, and other critical health and social justice issues through the creation of art and film projects; to facilitate healing and belonging through creative expression; and to support schools and communities in creating safe spaces where young people feel seen, heard, and supported in reaching out for help through curriculums, trainings, and awareness activities. (We were recently featured on ABC7 in LA; learn more about our work at

Two of the organization’s signature programs - the Directing Change Film Contest and Hope & Justice - seek volunteer judges to evaluate youth-created submissions centered on suicide prevention, mental health, and social justice. (Judging is currently on hiatus for the summer, sign up now to join us for the 2024-2025 school year!)

All Directing Change and Hope & Justice judging is completed remotely online and allows judges to participate flexibly at the time that works best for them. While the exact time required to evaluate submissions varies throughout the year, most judging periods require a time commitment of approximately 2 hours or less.

For the Directing Change Film Contest, judging takes place annually each March. For this contest, judges review and score up to 15 short PSAs. Participation in the program prepares youth to recognize signs of distress and seek help for themselves or a friend while inviting them to share their own unique message about suicide prevention and mental health with their peers. PSAs created for the contest are also used to raise awareness as part of media campaigns and outreach across California. (Read more about our 2024 contest and award ceremony at

For Hope & Justice, judging occurs intermittently throughout the school year (typically the second week of each month). For these contests, youth across the state are invited to express their thoughts and feelings around critical mental health topics, as well as social justice and current events through the creation of visual art, written works, short films, audio PSAs, original music, and more. Participants can submit entries to the theme of "Hope," "Justice," or in response to an educational monthly prompt centered on mental health, healthy coping mechanisms, and available support resources. (Learn more and view previous contest winners at

Please submit our judge sign-up form to be added to our list of volunteers and begin receiving communications about upcoming judging opportunities: Forms are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year, and you will receive a confirmation email with additional details once your form has been reviewed and approved by Youth Creating Change (depending on staff availability, this process may take several weeks).

Those interested in judging are also welcome to reach out to with any questions.

Youth Creating Change believes that stories, film, and art are powerful tools for elevating conversations around critical health topics, changing norms, challenging harmful perceptions, and inspiring action toward more inclusive communities; through the Directing Change Film Contest and Hope & Justice, the organization encourages young people to aspire to be courageous and genuine, asking them to apply their creativity to a range of art forms while conveying messages that can truly make a difference. Our ideal volunteers share our values and have interest in one or more of these areas: filmmaking, visual art, storytelling, poetry, music, public health, mental health, suicide prevention, social justice, or education. Additionally, while volunteers can reside anywhere, our contests are currently only open to California schools and youth.

We also welcome you to share this opportunity with anyone in your network or community who might wish to participate. Youth Creating Change judging is interactive, inspiring, and educational - and can be a great way to engage others around suicide prevention and mental health.

Submit a judge sign-up form ( or email for more information.


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Mission Statement

To educate young people about critical health topics through the medium of film and promote social justice by changing conversations in schools and communities.


The Directing Change Program and Film Contest is an evaluated program devoted to training young people in mental health awareness, suicide prevention and other critical health and social justice issues. The program prepares young people to recognize signs of distress and how to seek help for themselves or a friend; provides curriculums and trainings to educators and school administrators to impact school climates, policies and practices; facilitates parent workshops; and offers 24/7 crisis support to schools after a student suicide. More than 18,000 youth have received mental health awareness and suicide prevention training through participation in Directing Change since its launch during the 2011-2012 school year; the program has also been implemented in more than 50 counties and in over 500 school districts in California.

Disguised as a film and art contest, Directing Change engages youth by providing lesson plans and instructional tools to educators and educational resources to students. Youth apply this knowledge to their own unique messages about suicide prevention and mental health by creating films and art. Learning objectives surrounding mental health and suicide prevention are integrated into all contest submission categories, giving young people the opportunity to explore these topics critically while learning about positive messaging and available support resources.


Arts & Culture
Children & Youth
Media & Broadcasting
Arts & Culture, Children & Youth, Media & Broadcasting


We'll work with your schedule.




  • General Education
  • Mental Health
  • Visual Arts
  • Counseling / Mental Health
  • Journalism
  • Storytelling


  • People 55+
  • Group


  • Must be at least 18
  • Approximately 1-2 hours per contest. Judging can be completed at the volunteer's convenience within the judging window and does not have to be completed in one session. This is a virtual volunteering opportunity.
  • Email and internet access are required to participate. We also have a preference for California volunteers, but all are welcome to sign up.

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