YouTube fan conference VidCon has announced it will distribute $2,000 grants to a new emerging YouTuber each week for a year, totaling $104,000 in grants to up-and-coming creators. The money doesn’t have any strings attached — you can spend it however you’d like. “Nothing is out there making this easier,” wrote Vidcon founder Hank Green on the project’s site, “and a lot of things are out there making it harder.” You can apply here. Green announced the grant at VidCon’s keynote this year. (The grant, however, is not a way into VidCon’s coveted “featured creator” status. “We want to be clear that this program is entirely separate from invites to VidCon,” the team wrote.)
The only requirements to apply: You must be creating content that lives on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Twitch, Musical.ly, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, or your blog; you must have been uploading two videos per month for at least six months prior to your application date; you must be earning less than 150,000 views per video, consistently; and you must live in the US.
The grant announcement comes amid the ongoing demonetization debate that has swirled around YouTube for the last year. In January, the company moved the goalposts for how many views and subscribers a creator needed to have to earn money from advertisers. The update prompted widespread fury from the YouTube community, including high profile creators like Casey Neistat, Tyler Oakley, and Justine Ezarik. (The change was also speculated to have motivated the woman behind the shootings at YouTube’s offices in Mountain View, CA, in April, which left three wounded and the shooter dead.) But the brunt of the policy shift — on top of additional algorithm issues that have prompted questions about the platform’s flagging policies — has been borne by smaller creators, who this VidCon grant program expressly seeks to support.
“[W]e think we’re in trouble if the creativity and passion of the last ten years starts to be beaten down by the new established powers, whether that’s agencies or networks, or even VidCon, with it’s [sic] necessarily finite invites,” writes Green. “We just want to make things a little easier because we know this is hard.” Creators will be chosen by VidCon staff, who will be “doing [their] best to pick out different kinds of creators who are pushing boundaries, creating for underserved audiences, and/or making the world a better place with their content.”
While the grant aligns with Green’s personal mission to create entertaining educational programming, Green himself has also been the recipient of similar corporate generosity; YouTube helped fund some of his early shows, including Crash Course, his educational series, and SciShow, Green’s science-related video series. Given the head start many early creators got with YouTube’s financial support, it stands to reason that Green’s grant could produce a similar bloom of talent.