Colin Higgins Youth Courage Awards were established in 2000 to further the spirit and lifework of Colin Higgins. All of his films celebrate honesty and integrity in the face of adversity: Harold and Maude find love despite the objections of family and society, the heroes of 9-5 find fulfillment and save the company by learning to appreciate their individual talents and differences, and the shunned madam of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas transforms the lives of many through her kindness. Like the characters in his films, Colin Higgins Youth Courage Award recipients have endured overwhelming hardships, yet have handled themselves with the utmost grace and dignity.
The Colin Higgins Youth Courage Awards are bestowed each year to acknowledge remarkable young people who refuse to be silenced by societal norms and demonstrate profound courage in the face of hardship, intolerance and bigotry based on sexual orientation, gender identity and national origin. To further elevate their advocacy and educational efforts, each Colin Higgins’ Youth Courage Award winner receives a grant of $15,000. Due to the overwhelming number of nominations, in 2021, the Colin Higgins Foundation modified the nominating process, allowing only for select LGBTQ+ organizations to nominate LGBTQ+ youth. The LGBTQ+ organization that nominated the eventual winners also receive a $5,000 grant from the Colin Higgins Foundation.
Since the inception, the Colin Higgins Foundation has handed out $5.8 million in grants to a wide variety of institutions, groups and individuals. In the last decade, the foundation has focused primarily on LGBTQ+ youth.