Youth Creating Change is a non-profit organization (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 through curriculums, trainings, and awareness activities in creating safe spaces where young people feel seen, heard, and supported in reaching out for help.

The organization’s signature program, The Directing Change Film Contest, launched at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year.   Learn about some of our outcomes here and meet our Youth Advisory Council

2011:  AdEase (Now Civilian) and Your Social Marketer (as a subcontractor to Civilian) are awarded the contract to create and oversee California’s Suicide Prevention Media Campaign, now known as the Know the Signs campaign, including a PSA contest for students.

2012:  The Directing Change Student PSA Contest launches as part of statewide suicide prevention, stigma reduction and student mental health efforts in California.  These initiatives were funded by counties through the Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) and administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA).   The program was dreamed up and developed by co-founders Jana Sczersputowski and Stan Collins and created in partnership with the team at Your Social Marketer and Civilian.  We appreciate everyone who played a role in informing the program, but want to especially thank Ann Collentine (CalMHSA), Stacey Smith and her team (Civilian), Monica Nepomuceno (California Department of Education) and the 11 leads from the regional K-12 Student Mental Health Initiative (SMHI), a program of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association with a special shout out to Dotti Ysais and Rich Lieberman.

March 1, 2013:  On the program’s first submission deadline, 391 film submissions were received from students across California. Check out the first-place winning film in the Suicide Prevention Category Hey I’m Allen by Angel Lopez.

May 16, 2012:   The program’s first annual red carpet award ceremony is hosted at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento. Bradley Buecker and Max Adler accepted Outstanding Messaging Award for Glee.  Fun Fact:  Bradley Buecker still volunteers his time to review entries to the annual film contest!

March 1, 2024:  This program year, 1,315 film submissions were received from 3,810 youth across California. Check out the finalists here.

May 21, 2024:   The 12th Annual Directing Change red carpet award ceremony was hosted at the United Artist Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, attended by nearly 800 youth and professionals.  Special guests Sky Katz, Samantha Stratton, and Alex Heller also accepted Messaging Awards for their work on Surviving Summer, Spinning Out, and The Year Between, respectively.  Learn more about the 2024 Messaging Awards here.