Advocacy and political activity are in the air this week with the wrap up of Texas primary elections. Texas Youth and Government is proud to share details about how students Athena Bruess (Dallas) and Maria Daniela Noonan (Austin) are currently bringing their own passions for advocacy and civic engagement to the nation’s Capitol! The Texas Youth and Government program selected these National Advocacy Days Youth Advocates from a competitive pool of applicants.
Each year, Youth and Government programs across the country send Youth Advocates to participate in Y-USA’s National Advocacy Days. Y representatives and Youth Advocates meet with legislators and other decision makers to discuss Y-USA’s policy priorities. Y-USA grounds these priorities in the Y’s focus areas: youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. This year, Athena and Maria Daniela are helping Y-USA advocate for quality out-of-school-time programs funded by 21st Century Community Learning Center allocations and the Child Protection Improvements Act. This legislation grants organizations that serve children access to FBI fingerprint background checks as part of their comprehensive volunteer and employee screening process. Our Youth Advocates are also standing up for $1.28 billion in funding for the CDC’s Chronic Disease Control and Prevention program and tax reforms to facilitate charitable giving to nonprofits strengthening American communities like the YMCA.
Through their National Advocacy Days experience, Athena and Maria Daniela are gaining exposure to the national policymaking process, Y-USA advocacy efforts, and public policy career tracks. They have met with Rep. Pete Olson (Texas’ 22nd congressional district) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas’ 18th congressional district). They have also connected with Y staff including David Lopez with the YMCA of Greater Houston and the Texas State Alliance of YMCAs and Cesar Silva, Chief Financial Officer of the YMCA of Greater Houston. When not in meetings with legislators or Y staff, they have a chance to visit the Smithsonian, participate in round tables and workshops, and take tours of the Capitol. We’re so glad to support these students and to have the opportunity to show off Texas YG’s work on a national stage!