and Partners

Community Access


Founded in 1974, Community Access is one of the oldest nonprofits in New York City dedicated to helping people with mental health concerns access housing, education, job training and placement, and mental health crisis services. Community Access core programs serve 3,500 of the hardest-to-reach and most vulnerable New Yorkers, the majority of whom are from communities of color. In addition to providing direct services, Community Access is also a leading advocacy organization for the rights of people living with mental health concerns. Through anti-stigma initiatives – including the NYC Mental Health Film Festival and the Changing Minds Young Filmmaker Competition – they shine a positive light on mental health and create safe spaces for people to share their authentic mental health stories.


Purpose: To support the Changing Minds Young Filmmakers Competition and related programs.

LMTIF support for the Changing Minds Young Filmmaker Competition is designed to ramp up this life-affirming initiative in each and effectiveness by engaging more filmmakers from around the world and forming partnerships with other organizations.


LMTIF support helped Community Access’ Changing Minds Young Filmmaker Competition to rapidly scale up its operations and become the premier, go-to storytelling initiative for young people (ages 15-25). What began as a small competition – with just over a dozen submissions from young filmmakers – has grown into an international program that comprises the filmmaking competition, the Changing Minds Young Filmmaker Festival, a YouTube channel, classroom resources for students, and much more. In 2019, 943 young people from across the U.S. and 82 other countries submitted films to the competition.

Since its inception, Changing Minds has received more than 2,100 films. Community Access also developed a new partnership to bring films and discussion guides into public schools through the Jewish Board’s 100 Schools Project. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illumination Fund helped support the launch of “Changing Minds Film Fridays,” a live weekly event featuring the screening of a Changing Minds film and a live Q&A on Instagram. The pandemic has also caused the 2020 festival to be reimagined, and the Illumination Fund is supporting efforts to host an online event. This first-of-its-kind online event for young filmmakers will include Q&As with filmmakers and be fueled, as ever, by the power of storytelling through film.

Additional Resources

Changing Minds Young Filmmakers




Grantee index photo: still from The Colored Hospital (dir Terrance Daye).
Banner photo: still from The Dragon Dream (dir Sophie Cheung).