YMCA Youth and Government Program

Since 1936, YMCA Youth and Government has offered students across the country the opportunity to serve their schools, communities, states and nation through model government, civic engagement, advocacy, leadership and character development, service-learning, and other opportunities to amplify youth voice and strengthen youth civic health.

As one of the nation’s oldest and largest youth civics education programs, Youth and Government has provided hundreds of thousands of young people with the skills, training, and relationships needed to become life-long engaged citizens and community members.

Mission: To help teenagers become responsible citizens and future leaders of our nation.

Goal: To create an environment in which students can increase their political awareness and understanding while learning the meaning of social action through an actual hands-on experience in government.

Motto: Democracy must be learned by each generation

In the United States, there are…

State Programs
Involved Students
Volunteers and Advisors

Our Impact

YMCA Youth and Government is a national program with active programs in 37 states and Washington, D.C. The program started in New York in 1936 and in Texas in 1946. Today over 55,000 middle school, high school, and college students from nearly 2,000 schools and organizations participate in state Youth and Government conferences, including Model State Government and Model United Nations conferences. Nationwide there are over 250 events for these students, and 3,300 adult volunteers and YMCA staff serve as advisors

Our Purpose

The purpose of Youth and Government is to prepare a selected group of young people for moral and political leadership in the American democratic process by providing guidance, training, and experience in the theory and practice of determining public policy on the state level. It is called “a laboratory in citizenship and government.”

Our Mission

In partnership with the YMCA, we are able to combine their core principles and strength with what Texas Youth and Government strives to achieve, the advancement of youth to become successful in their future endeavors. YMCA assistance and involvement in every major facet of the Youth and Government program allows for the incorporation of YMCA core values:

  • Caring: to demonstrate a sincere concern for others, for their needs and well-being.
  • Honesty: to tell the truth, to demonstrate reliability and trustworthiness, through actions that are in keeping with my stated positions and beliefs.
  • Respect: to treat others as I would want them to treat me; to value the worth of every person, including myself.
  • Responsibility: to do what is right–what I ought to do; to be accountable for my choices of behavior and actions and my promises.

Our Motto

The motto of YMCA Youth and Government was adapted from a quote by Dr. Earle T. Hawkins, President of Towson State Teachers College and first Chairman of the Maryland Youth and Government program: “Democracy is more than being governed by a majority vote. It is a process in government that must be learned and earned by each succeeding generation. Youth cannot inherit democracy. They achieve it as adults provide them opportunities and leadership.”

Democracy must be learned by each generation