The YMCA Youth and Government program was established in 1936 in New York by Clement “Pete” Duran, then a director of the Albany YMCA. Duran coined the motto of the program “Democracy must be learned by each generation.”
YMCA Texas Youth & Government (YG) is part of a nationwide, youth led, civic engagement and academic enrichment program for high school and middle school students. YMCA Texas Youth and Government program was organized in 1946. The Judicial section of the Youth and Government Program began in Texas in 1960. Since then, other program sections have been added including lobbyists, issues section, middle school legislature, media and Model United Nations. Thousands of teens have gone through the program and have grown up to be responsible citizens and future leaders of our nation.
In 2000, the American Bar Association became a supporter of the organization, creating a policy requesting lawyers to become involved in the program by stressing the importance of engaging and educating students about the United States legal process. About this issue, Sandra Day O’Connor and Roy Romer said in 2006:
“Most young people today simply do not have an adequate understanding of how our government and political system work, and they are thus not well prepared to participate as citizens.”
As of 2012, the program operates in 37 states and the District of Columbia, serving 47,000 high school students around the country.