YMCA Youth and Government Program

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

State Programs
Involved Students
Volunteers and Advisors


YMCA Youth and Government is a national YMCA program, active in approximately 40 states. The first Youth and Government program took place in 1936 in New York.  The Texas Program began in 1946. Today, nearly 25,000 students annually take part in state Youth and Government conferences nationwide (including Model State Government and Model United Nations conferences), with 3,300 adult volunteers and YMCA staff serving as adult advisors. Many of these advisors were involved throughout their own high school careers and return as adults to help “give back” to a new generation of youth leaders.


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.”

YMCA 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.

YMCA 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