Mobilization Campaign to Create Safe Spaces for LGBTQ+ Youth


The It Gets Better Project (IGB) works to uplift, empower, and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth around the globe.

In partnership with Aerie and American Eagle, IGB wanted to offer grants to LGBTQ+ youth through school-based projects in all 50 states. IGB partnered with Media Cause to create and execute a mobilization campaign strategy that would reach youth, educators, and allies and invite them to submit their applications.


The Outcome

Our 50 States. 50 Grants. 5000 Voices. campaign reached millions and engaged thousands of LGBTQ+ youth, educators, and allies, and led to 50 $10,000 grants awarded in 40 states, plus Washington D.C., empowering LGBTQ+ youth across the country.




Microsite visitors

complete applications from 40 different states

Total Impressions (paid media + TikTok)

The Challenge

It Gets Better Project planned to give 50 grants to LGBTQ+ youth across the country and support their mission to uplift and empower this community. They wanted to reach and engage students and educators from across the country, including those living in more conservative states. Sourcing diverse, creative grant applications was an important benchmark for success.

They needed to create a strong user experience for grant applicants while also relying on a complex array of platforms to provide all the functionality necessary to support the various needs and stages of the campaign.

The third hurdle they faced was the timeline. They were offering students and educators the opportunity to get funding for creative projects at their schools but had no way of knowing what the reality on the ground was or would be in each state because of the pandemic. Additionally, they were launching right around the end of year, a very busy time for everyone, including the target audiences.

The Strategy

Our campaign strategy incorporated a variety of tactics to get in front of our target audiences (LGBTQ+ students and educators) in all 50 states. Market research revealed two critical insights that informed all our messaging and positioning: the power of student-led initiatives and the critical role teachers play in creating safe spaces in their schools.

Our research also led us to focus on the platforms best suited to reach (TikTok), engage (Instagram), and generate leads (Facebook) among our target audiences. 

Our campaign slogan, 50 States. 50 Grants. 5000 Voices., positioned our goals for a diverse group of applicants upfront. 

An important component of our strategy was designing and building a microsite to serve as a starting point for both students and educators, since the application process required joint collaboration between those two groups. 

We mapped out a cohesive journey that supported users in gaining awareness of the campaign, provided them with the resources they needed to consider the opportunity, then walked them through the multi-step process to submit their grant applications.

The Implementation

Knowing that the application process would take time and collaboration between students and teachers, we designed a 50 States. 50 Grants. 5000 Voices. microsite to help our target audiences learn more about the grant application. 

The microsite, built on Webflow, was designed primarily for the students. It was designed to be dynamic, vibrant, and very colorful to pique their interests. It featured a call to action to sign up for email updates to get tips about their application, as well as webinars to exchange with the It Gets Better Project team and their peers.

When it comes to submitting an application, we know that teenagers often turn things in at the very last minute. With that insight in mind, we designed two email series (one for students, one for teachers) to keep the campaign and the application deadline top of mind for students and their teachers.

We started with monthly touchpoints, then bi-weekly, and weekly as the deadline approached. These emails had two goals in mind: letting our audiences know that applications were starting to roll in to create a fear of missing out and providing support and tips.

Paid media campaigns were rolled out to targeted audiences on Instagram, Tiktok, and Facebook. We targeted students (14 to 18 year-olds) and teachers (24 to 55 year-olds) with the goal of increasing awareness around the campaign and driving grant applications.

We established and leveraged partnerships with creators, specifically educators, to launch the #FavoriteTeacher campaign on TikTok. #FavoriteTeacher was designed to give users the opportunity to acknowledge the important role of educators in the lives of teens and how important it is for LBGTQ+ youth to have supportive adults in their schools. 


We developed two toolkits—one for our primary audience (Teachers and Educators) and for our secondary audience (Partners). The Educator Toolkit was created to activate teachers and recruit students. The Partner Toolkit was created for various partners to share and promote the program. The toolkits included items like branding elements, social + email assets, and a poster.

The 50 States. 50 Grants. 5000 Voices. Campaign came to life because of the support provided by American Eagle and Aerie. We provided the brands with video assets for their ambassadors so they could spread the word about the initiative.

We also created a partnership activation strategy based on getting existing and new It Gets Better partners and members of their Youth Voices Ambassadors program. We know nothing compares to the power of peer-to-peer communication, and these partners helped to elevate the message in a personal, organic way through their own channels.

After a successful campaign in the U.S., IGB decided to expand the campaign and grant program to include Canada in the second year. For Canada, we created an additional microsite in both English and French The ad creative and forms were also translated into French to be inclusive of all territories within the country.

We continued to utilize Meta channels—Facebook and Instagram—as well as TikTok, which all performed well during Phase 1. In addition to these platforms, we also tested Snapchat during the outreach phase in the U.S.—driving additional awareness to the target student audience during the campaign’s initial run.  

Campaigns ran in two flights—an outreach flight focused on building awareness and driving top-funnel leads through teacher targeting efforts—and temarketing, which focused on re-engaging the audience to drive application starts and submissions throughout the campaign.