Celebrating Young Leaders

 Honoring Passion, Innovation, and Resilience of Young Changemakers. 

About the Awards

The 21 Under 21 Youth Awards Gala presented by RBC is a staple event organized by Youth Ottawa to recognize and celebrate young people. Rebranded from the Spirit of the Capital Awards, the event honours 21 local youth each year, 14-21 years of age who have made a significant contribution to their local or global community and who show initiative, enthusiasm, and leadership. 

This year’s event will take place at the Shaw Centre on October 24th, 2024. The event will feature a mocktail hour, photo booth areas, awards presentations, youth performances, multimedia displays showcasing the work of our city’s young people, and more! 

Nominate a Young Leader Today

Youth Ottawa celebrates the unique journeys of young individuals, embracing a broad spectrum of accomplishments and community engagement. We welcome nominations across various fields, including academics, community service, leadership, arts, and environmental advocacy. 

We’re looking for the next 21 youth to honour! If you know a youth who has given back to the community, inspired change in others, and exhibited inspirational leadership, please submit an application!

*Applications Period: May 7, 2024-June 28, 2024

Should you have any questions about the application or nominations period please email 21under21@youthottawa.ca



Nominees must be between the ages of 14-21 as of January 1st, 2024 and reside in the National Capital Region.


Youth recipients who have received an award in previous years cannot apply again as we want to give opportunities to those who have not received before.


Nominees should be available to attend the 21 Under 21 Gala on October 24th, 2024 and the meet and greet on September 25th, 2024


Be aware that their name and photograph may be used before/after the awards in local media and on Youth Ottawa’s promotional materials


Anyone can nominate a youth, including nominating yourself (e.g a friend, sibling, teacher, parent, or guardian). Only 1 application per nominee will be accepted, please do not send multiple applications per individual, we will only consider one.

  • $1,000 bursary
  • An invitation to the awards gala on October 24th, 2024
  • Opportunity to be featured in news through media partners 
  • Networking opportunities & more!
  • Once the application has been received by the deadline, it will be reviewed by the Youth Awards Selection Committee. 
  • The selected nominees will be contacted by email
  • The nominators will also be contacted by email
  • Information about the awards presented, including the names and photos of the award recipients, will be published on Youth Ottawa and partner websites and/or social media platforms. Recipients are asked to inform Youth Ottawa if they do NOT wish to have their name or photo published. 
  • Youth are asked to attend our pre gala Meet and Greet on September 25th, 2024. 
  • Youth are invited to the awards gala to receive their award on October 24th, 2024. 


All nominations are individually scored by a Youth Committee and Youth Ottawa board members. Recipients are not chosen for any one specific reason, but rather for their diverse range of accomplishments and community involvement.

The nomination process is designed to be straightforward and succinct. It often takes 60 minutes to complete. It’s good to start with a very clear sense of the nominee’s achievements and contributions to the community.

No. The references will only be contacted if the committee requires more detailed information on a specific item.

We have a number of sponsorship opportunities available for the 21 Under 21 Awards Gala. For more information, please contact Stefania at stefania.marino@youthottawa.ca or view our sponsorship package below.

Yes. There is no disadvantage to self-nomination.

Yes, a group can be nominated, however, only one bursary will be given to the whole group.

Yes. we encourage nominees to update and resend their applications if they have not been selected in previous years.

Yes, you can nominate as many people as you would like. We do however limit one application per nominee, so we discourage individuals from submitting the same application multiple times for the same youth

Recipients will be notified by in late July. The names of all recipients will also be announced on Youth Ottawa’s website around this time. Closer to the awards gala in October, the recipients will also be profiled in partner media news outlets.

Yes, your application will not be made public. It will only be viewed by the committee. Information supplied within the recipient surveys will be used for a public profile on Youth Ottawa’s website (recipients only). Contact information will be used to update recipients about the next steps of the awards process. Names of non-recipients will not be published.

"The Awards had a huge impact on my career, education and overall life. Through the support and network I was able to launch my community work to another level. And through the visibility and recognition I have received additional financial support and distinction. For instance, shortly after receiving this award I became one of only 20 McCall MacBain scholars ‘22 at McGill University. I feel none of this would have been possible without the visibility and support of the RBC Youth Award. I consider it to be a milestone in my journey to becoming an advocate, entrepreneur, and physician-researcher."

Yasmine Elmi - 2021 Award Recipient

Support Young Emerging Leaders

As leaders in the community, this is a unique opportunity for you to celebrate and give back to tomorrow’s leaders! Download our information package to learn more about the different ways you can get involved with the awards.

Thank You to our Sponsors

Alumni Stories

Hear from past spirit alumni! Alumni share what the awards meant to them and their work in the community.