Since 2011, Youth MOVE National has presented the Rockstar Awards to youth advocates, advocates for youth, and organizations who have made great strides in improving the lives of youth and youth-serving systems.

Rockstar Awards 2018 Is Now Open for Nominations

Know some awesome people and organizations doing great work with youth? Now’s your chance to celebrate them.

Youth MOVE National presents the Rockstar Awards to people and organizations who have made an outstanding contribution toward the improvement of youth or youth-serving systems—like mental health, juvenile justice, education, and child welfare.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • There are award categories for youth, for advocates for youth, and for professionals. Read the descriptions to find the category that best fits your nominee.

  • Rockstar Awards can be given posthumously.

  • Self-nominating is encouraged!

  • Rockstar Award recipients do not need to be Youth MOVE members.

  • Current members of the Youth MOVE National Board of Directors and National Leadership Team are not eligible, neither are previous Rockstar Award recipients.

Please read the official rules here.

Watch the 2017 Rockstar Informational Webinar* recording to learn more about the categories, how to submit a successful nomination, and what exactly we mean by health equity in regards to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Equity. (*Dates will be different.)

Deadline to nominate: Sunday, June 3, 2018

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Equity
*Now Open!

This is our third year partnering with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to present the Award for Health Equity.

This award is presented to a Rockstar (one person or a team of two people) who has made health equity their priority. They’ve successfully broken down health disparity barriers and improved outcomes for youth via a systems-change approach. We aim to recognize work particularly done in the area of access to quality care, education, employment, income, community environment, housing, and public safety.

Plus, the recipient(s) of this award will receive a $3,000 unrestricted* cash prize!

(*That means you can do whatever you want with it.)


  • Nominees must be citizens or legal residents of the United States;
  • Thirteen (13) years of age or older;
  • Not a trustee, director, officer, stakeholder, employee, contractor, agent, representative, affiliate of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Youth MOVE National, selection committee, or the spouse/domestic partner, parent, sibling, child, or grandchild of any of the foregoing;
  • Have not previously received any Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Equity from any sponsor organization in any year.

Tricialouise Gurley-Millard Youth Advocate of the Year

If you know a 14–29-year-old with experience in youth-serving systems (including the mental health system, juvenile justice, education system, and child welfare) who has used their voice as an advocate, we want to hear about them. If they’ve had any outstanding contribution in youth-led projects and groups aimed to increase awareness of these systems, then we really want to hear about them!

This Rockstar has been recognized amongst their peers and adults alike for their exemplary leadership skills and commitment to authentic representation of youth voice through advocacy, social media, creative arts, youth supports groups, or any other activity.

Marlene Matarese Advocate for Youth of the Year

This champion for youth voice has outstanding relationships with youth because they are committed to being a support person for youth involved in systems-change advocacy. They’ve shown an outstanding contribution in facilitating youth voice by being involved in youth-led projects, trainings, and other activities. This Rockstar may have once been a youth advocate, but is now ensuring the next generation of youth leaders have their voices heard.

Dr. Gary M. Blau Professional of the Year

This award is for the—ahem—experienced professionals in the field. Think of the seasoned professional who has shown a career-long dedication to the youth movement. They’ve spent much of their life’s work ensuring youth voice is meaningfully and authentically integrated into what they do. They’re committed to youth engagement and they’ve shown it in any number of ways: through exceptional creativity, innovation, leadership, scholarship, or something else completely out of the box.

We also aim to recognize any professionals who have completed outstanding research or published works that contribute to further understanding authentic youth voice engagement as well as a teacher in the field of social services or a closely related field.

Organization of the Year

This organization is leading the way in authentic youth engagement work. When you think “youth-driven,” you think of this organization. They’re recognized as the standard for promoting youth voice in all levels of the organization.

This can be shown in a lot of ways, but particularly through written policies and procedures, presence of youth on governing authorities, and as reported by youth in the program.

Continued support of a recognized Youth MOVE chapter through the creation of youth and adult partnerships doesn’t hurt, either.

Youth MOVE Chapter of the Year

This is where we get to brag just a bit. This award goes to a recognized Youth MOVE chapter in good standing for at least one (1) year. This chapter is respected within their statewide or local community as a youth-run group that upholds the mission and vision of Youth MOVE National.

They’re committed to authentic youth voice and have shown this commitment through various activities involving advocacy, social media, creative arts, youth support groups, and more!

This chapter has participated in innovating thinking that contributed to the field of youth engagement and increased awareness of best practices of mental health, juvenile justice, education, or child welfare issues.

In short, this exemplary chapter is doing some pretty impressive work.

2017's Winners

Jacob Griffin

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Award for Health Equity

Jacob works with his local Youth MOVE Indiana chapter, serves on the Indiana Suicide Prevention Advisory Council, and during his time at Ball State University has coordinated an Active Minds chapter. For the past two years, Jacob has focused his efforts on increasing supports for college students in need of counseling and psychological services on campuses by increasing awareness of these issues with university trustees, student affairs administrators, politicians, and campus communities. He formed a task force, and later an independent 501(c)3, dedicated to integrating research and current college trends with best practices. This resulted in increased student success despite adversity. According to his peers, Jacob has served as an inspiration for anyone with whom he engages and is an exemplary role model for youth advocates.

Will Voss

Dr. Gary M. Blau Professional of the Year

Will Voss is the Healthy Transitions Program Manager for Tennessee.
According to his peers, Will travels across the state to engage with youth face-to-face and to ensure agencies are building capacity for authentic youth engagement. He supports Healthy Transitions staff in becoming more youth-driven through workshops and trainings. And he organizes statewide Young Adult Leadership Council meetings. He developed a two-day Leadership Academy, completely free to anyone who wanted to attend, and in observance of Awareness Day, he organized and executed a block party and community resource fair—which of course included fun activities like arts and crafts and face painting.

Youth MOVE Idaho

Youth MOVE Chapter of the Year

Youth MOVE Idaho serves youth in more than half the state, providing both a safe space for young people to convene and offer support as well as providing workshops and leadership trainings on how to share stories of lived experience. Youth MOVE Idaho members regularly develop and execute social events for their communities and have led the way in developing Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day events, including statewide promotion strategies.

Members of Youth MOVE Idaho have presented at numerous conferences and virtual webinars that are live-streamed and broadcasted on public access television across the state. The youth learned to operate the cameras and other technological equipment and produce these shows all on their own.

Last year, they were awarded a Dare to Dream America grant and with it they crafted clay “buddies” to represent different mental illnesses to show the vulnerability felt by an individual. “Buddies” were created for depression, anxiety, and ADHD, and were depicted on t-shirts. Project participants held groups with elementary-aged students to talk about emotions, mental wellness, and reaching out for support.

Jack Storti

Tricialouise Gurley-Millard Youth Advocate of the Year

Jack serves as the Chair for the Emerging Leaders Advisory Council in Colorado, a youth council that guides and informs the work of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Council (JJDP). The Emerging Leaders Council has guided the JJDP in LGBTQ inclusiveness through toolkits and trainings. They’ve designed youth programs and guide the full membership of the JJDP. Their work has been presented at state-level conferences and has increased the awareness of the juvenile justice system, and the mental health and child welfare systems.

Joshua Sprunger

Marlene Matarese Advocate for Youth of the Year

According to Indiana youth, Joshua possesses a unique ability to engage and empower youth and family advocates in a bureaucratic setting. He’s acted as a mentor for youth and families looking to create systems change. He was the driving force for authentic youth voice and having youth be equal partners in developing policy and programming in the Indiana system of care.

Nashville Launchpad

Organization of the Year

On any given night in Nashville, more than 300 youth are without permanent housing. Approximately 40% of these 300 youth identify as LGBTQ, placing them at greater physical and emotional risk than their straight and cisgender peers. In 2014, the LGBTQ and ally community of Nashville collaborated to create Launchpad, an initiative dedicated to providing safe sleeping shelters for youth in Nashville.