Hope and Justice


There is a lot going on in the world right now. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed, angry, scared, tired, confused. It’s okay to just feel.  Or if you are up for it, express yourself and use these feelings and your voice to encourage purposeful action and to start conversations that matter- through art.

This category is different from our traditional film contest and submissions are accepted on a rolling basis, with winners announced monthly.

View our monthly Hope & Justice Category winners here! 

Category Rules: Submissions are accepted from youth ages 12-25. Submissions are due at midnight of the last day of the month and winners will be announced by the 15th of the following month and shared via social media and on the website. Participants are eligible to submit one entry per month.  Prizes include: First place ($300), Second Place ($150), Third Place ($100), and Honorable Mention ($25) in Amazon gift cards. Winners will be selected by the Hope and Justice advisory group and the Directing Change Team. In addition, all 60-second film entries received prior to March 1, 2021 will also compete against all 60-second films entered in the Hope and Justice category for a chance at a statewide prize.

A submission includes the following:

This category includes an additional incentive – a cash award between $100 to $500 that can be used to support a community action project you create. To qualify you’ll need to complete a short application form explaining your idea and submit an entry submission in the Hope and Justice category.  Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis as funds are available and need to be started and completed between September 2020 and May 2021. Contact us if you’d like to get started.

Check out this video for a brief overview of the Hope & Justice submission category

Getting Started.

Step 1.  Select a Submission Format

Express yourself! Any art form suitable for sharing via social media is acceptable: original music, dance, spoken word, art, poetry, a speech, ANYTHING! This is your chance to tell your story and be creative. Review the Entry Format Tips page to learn how to upload your film entry correctly.

  • Visual Art – submitted as a jpg or png file
    • Painting, digital art, sketching, comic, or any other art form
    • For tips on how to upload your artwork correctly visit the Tips and Resources section and please keep in mind the visual quality of your submission (e.g., a clear photo of your painting, with no glare), since we’ll be sharing winning submissions on social media
  • Original music (3 minutes or less) – submitted as mp3 file
    • Can also be submitted with a visual such as a music video, lyrics on screen, or recording of live performance
  • Short video, animation, or TikTok (15-seconds or less) –  submitted as mp4 file
    • Submit your video file and, if submitting a TikTok, also tag @DirectingChange on your post
  • Radio PSA (30-seconds) – submitted as mp3 file
    • Must be a recorded audio submission
  • Video PSA (60-seconds)  – mp4 file
    • For these films, be sure to review the judging criteria
    • All 60-second film entries received prior to March 1, 2021 will also compete against all 60-second films entered in the Hope and Justice category for a chance at a statewide prize.
    • Video PSAs must include this endslate within the 60 second time limit
    • Video PSAs must include a Title slide– You may use this title slide template or you may create your own title slide as long as it includes the required informationDownload the Title Slide Template here
  • Blog, poem, spoken word, essays, or other narrative – submitted as pdf or Word file
    • Narrative submissions should be 500 words or less

Entries may be submitted in any language as long as English captions or an English translation is included.

All entries must communicate one or more of the following content themes. The entry form will ask you to provide a short paragraph about your submission and how it meets the submission criteria and incorporates one or more of the content themes.

Step Two:  Pick a Content Category (Hope, Justice, or Monthly Prompt)

Right now we are living through history, which can bring on a lot of feelings. How are you feeling right now about the Coronavirus pandemic, protests, racial injustice, or about the upcoming election, and anything and everything else going on in the world and in your life?

This is your chance to communicate about what you are feeling, how you are dealing with those feelings, and how others can do the same. Your content can be inspired by any of the message ideas listed in the HOPE or JUSTICE bullets below.


Being a young person is already difficult, even without a global pandemic.  And a lot of youth are facing more, including not feeling safe at home or in the community, the threat of wildfires, financial uncertainty, and worrying about family and friends that are considered part of the essential workforce.  What are you experiencing and how are you coping?  Create a film, song, narrative, or piece of art that shares your story and encourages others to find their own way to get through tough times.

Here are some questions that your submission could be about:

  • What helps you get through tough times? Are you practicing self-care through reading, dancing, listening to music, writing, watching your favorite films? And what if that isn’t enough?
  • What do you see or experience in your life or community right now that gives you hope during this challenging time?
  • Or if you want more specific direction, create an art piece, song, narrative, film or Public Service Announcement addressing one of our monthly prompts (below).



There is a lot in the news, on social media, and in communities about racial justice.  From police-involved deaths of Black and Latinx people, protests, the Black Lives Matter movement and systemic racism, to confederate flag controversy, and sports figures (and others) using their platforms to elevate an issue – there is a lot going on. And sometimes the stories that can make the greatest impact are not those trending or on the evening news, but our own stories.

Teacher and parents — if you are interested in lesson plans and additional resources, contact us!

Submissions should Educate and Inspire Action.  What do you think can be done so that there can be real change?  Share your thoughts on actions that individuals, families, communities or organizations can or should take to make a difference.  Here are some ideas:

  • Share Your Perspective. Our perspectives are shaped by our own backgrounds, identities, families, friends, life experiences, and more. One of the greatest catalysts for change is opening someone’s mind to consider a different point of view.
    • Share a personal story/life experience (your own or by interviewing someone else) in a way that gives others a glimpse of what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes and live in their skin. How does that experience connect to what’s happening on a larger scale in your community, at your school, or nationwide?
    • How can your story encourage someone to view something from a different perspective? What can they do to become an ally?
  • Increase Knowledge: All of us have a role to play in combating bias by increasing knowledge and taking a stand against injustice. Create a project about explaining a term from this list and provide at least one action that young people can take.
    • For example, there is a difference between prejudice, bias, stereotypes, microaggressions, and discrimination, and knowing what makes each of those unique is an important foundation for having constructive conversations.

Encourage others to critically think about what they see and hear in the media.  What is the perspective of the person writing or speaking? What influences their point of view? What are their biases?

  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: With the recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there are many things people are feeling. Learn about the life and legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — including how she not only changed the law, but how she also transformed the roles of men and women in society. Check out this Lesson of the Day about RBG from the New York Times. Then, share a story about what Justice Ginsburg and her work means to you and what that means for the upcoming election.



This January, we’re excited to partner with My Grey Matterz to bring to you a prompt that asks you to get creative as you explore your beautiful brain!

What does My Beautiful Brain mean to you? Use your creativity to create art (in any form!) that:

  • Inspires people to discover the beauty of our brain and encourages young people (and others) to take care of it,
  • Encourages and educates others about how to protect their brain from sports related brain injuries by wearing a helmet,
  • Educates others on how to train our brains to practice kindness and encourages people to stay connected to one another to keep our brains and bodies healthy.

Check out the My Beautiful Brain Lesson Plan Guide (download it here!)  for an overview of the Hope & Justice Category and information about the brain and how we can protect and nurture it.


We are not hosting a monthly prompt for the month of December, however any submissions submitted in December will be judged in combination with January’s challenge, so all submissions are due at the end of January.    However, the criteria for the “Hope” or “Justice” submissions stay the same every month and we encourage you to submit an entry about those topics.

NOVEMBER’S PROMPT (due November 30th): My Reasons for Wearing a Face Covering

We’re now more than 8 months into the pandemic and many of us are growing tired of our new normal and may be needing some encouragement. This month, Directing Change is partnering with Crushing the Curve to see what youth’s reasons are for wearing a face covering and encourage others to do the same to help protect ourselves and others from COVID-19. 

What is your reason for wearing a face covering or mask? Use your creativity to create art (in any form!) that:

  • Shares your personal story about why you wear a face covering,
  • Encourages young people to wear a face covering, or
  • Educates people on facts about face coverings and how to use them correctly, or
  • Educates people about the importance of wearing a face covering to “crush the curve” and shares resources and tips from the Crushing the Curve website.

Together we can: Mask up. Step up. Crush COVID.

Check out the My Reasons for Wearing a Face Covering Lesson Plan Guide for an overview of the Hope & Justice Category and resources about face coverings and COVID-19 to get started. 

Resources on wearing a face covering and COVID-19:

Stay tuned for December’s Prompt! 

If you have ideas for a topic we should include in a future monthly prompt, please contact us!

Past Prompts: SEPTEMBER’S PROMPT:  (due September 30): What this election means to me… 

What does the 2020 election mean to you? Young people face unique challenges that result in lower participation and voting rates and a lack of representation in our democracy. Use your creativity to empower young people to register to vote and turn out on voting day!

Check out the Election Lesson Plan Guide for an overview of the Hope & Justice Category and lesson plan to get started.

Resources on voting and the election:

Unlike the upcoming presidential election, the 2020 Census is one of the few political events where everyone, regardless of age, race, legal status, or income, can participate. How are you getting involved in the 2020 Census? Use your creativity to engage your community to take part in the 2020 Census. Here are some resources to get started:

Whatever message you choose, your submission needs to be thoughtful and respectful.  It can be honest, but needs to convey that it is coming from a place of cultural humility and has the intent to further understanding and constructive dialogue about social justice and change.


Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Resources

Exploring the topics of the COVID-19 pandemic, upcoming election, protests, racial injustice and more can sometimes bring up difficult feelings. So, whether or not your entry includes information about mental health or suicide prevention, here are some resources to help you find support for yourself or someone else:

OCTOBER’S PROMPT: Creative Ways to Measure 6 Feet Physical Distancing

As some places in our communities start re-opening and more people are going out in public, it is important to stay vigilant to protect our friends, families, bubbles, communities, and ourselves. Luckily, there are ways to slow the spread of the virus and stay safe. In addition to washing our hands often and wearing a mask, it is recommended that people practice physical distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from other people.

So, what does 6 feet physical distancing look like? What tips or creative ways can you share for measuring 6 feet social distancing? Why is it important to stay at least 6 feet away from other people and wear a mask? How can we stay connected?

Use your creativity to tell us how you creatively measure 6 feet distancing and share why you think it’s important that we all practice physical distancing and slow the spread of Covid-19. Your project, art or film can also share why and how we can stay connected (while staying safe and 6-feet apart.)

Check out the 6 Feet Physical Distancing Lesson Plan Guide for an overview of the Hope & Justice Category and resources to get started. Here are a few examples from CNN about how to measure 6 feet social distancing in creative ways. These should get your creative ideas going so you can come up with your own.

Resources on 6 feet physical distancing and how to protect yourself from COVID-19:

Lesson Plans on Physical Distancing

If you are experiencing an emotional crisis, are thinking about suicide or are concerned about a friend call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately: 1-800-273-8255This is a free 24-hour hotline.
The contest is part of Each Mind Matters: California's Mental Health Movement and statewide efforts to prevent suicide, reduce stigma and discrimination related to mental illness, and to promote the mental health and wellness of students. These initiatives are funded by counties through the Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63) and administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. The program is implemented by Your Social Marketer, Inc.
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