YMCA Youth and Government
YMCA Youth In Government (YIG), also known as YMCA Youth and Government (YAG), is a YMCA program in the United States that allows high school students to serve in model governments at the local, state, and national levels.
Some states have Model United Nations (MUN) programs for middle school students.
Each state may participate in the national programs, which include the Youth Conference On National Affairs (CONA) and the Washington, D.C. Youth Governors Conference.
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.”
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.
The organization's mission is to "help create the next generation of thoughtful, comitted and active citizens" by teaching them the "principles of a democratic society." They also intend to create leaders through their roles in the models of local, state and national government. The premise is that "leaders are developed by doing."
The model government programs include the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government, guided by teachers, volunteers or Youth Government staff. Volunteers may include attorneys from the American Bar Association, legislators, business people and other organizations, such as the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation.
Branches of government
The participants of the Model Legislative Assemblies are elected into or assume the roles of senators, governors, representatives, lawyers, lobbyists and the press. Bills are drafted, discussed in committee, and debated. Much of this work is conducted locally prior the model legislature, which often occurs at the state capitol in House and Senate chambers. At the state level, bills are brought before the House and Senate floors to be debated. A vote is taken to determine if it passes or not. Bills that pass the legislative process are presented to current governmental officials; In some cases bills that pass the Youth Government legislative process have been enacted into state law.[nb 2]
The programs are generally for high school students, but some states also have collegiate models. Middle school students may be pages.
Students specific to their role—such as attorney, witness, or judge—and try a case or present a case to an appellate court.
Executive branch positions may vary by state. For Maine, the positions include governor, and governor's cabinet, including: the Attorney General, the State Treasurer, the Commissioner of Economic Development, the Commissioner of Education, the Commissioner of Human Services, and the Commissioner of Natural Resources.[non-primary source needed]
- Model United Nations Assembly
Many states have a Model United Nations Assembly. For instance, the state of California's MUN program brings together over 650 middle school students from the state to represent countries from around the world and debate issues of international importance. Their program consists of: the United Nations General Assembly the International Court of Justice, ECOSOC or the United Nations Economic and Social Council, the United Nations Security Council, the Office of the Secretary-General, International Press Corps, and United Nations Secretariat. Each Organ elects its leadership for the year, and the conference as whole elects its Secretary General for the following year.
- National conferences
Each state may participate in the national programs. Delegates are elected to attend the Conference on National Affairs. The elected governors from each state attend the Youth Governor's Conference.
|Summary chart of program participation, by state|
This section is a summary of state program participation. The legislative, judicary and executive programs are generally available to high school students only. If a state has a model program for middle school students it is either the Model Legislative Assembly or Model United Nations.
Some states have Model United Nations programs for high school students and/or programs for college students.
* Executive programs may not be expressly stipulated in the Youth and Government program material, but the Governor is required to enact the laws into legislation. Generally, there are other executive officials that are engaged in the project.
The programs include a Youth Model Assembly of the state legislature, conducted strictly to the state's processes in the State Capitol building, and beginning in 1996 a Collegiate Model Assembly. Each year, 500-600 youth participate in the program. Since 1998, an Alabama Youth Summit is conducted at the University of Alabama with participants from Youth in Government, Alabama Boys State and Alabama Girls State to propose, draft, debate, draft and present proposed legislation the governor's office." A judicial mock trial competition is held annually in November.
The California YMCA Youth & Government (Y&G) organization has sponsored statewide educational programs for more than 70,000 junior high and high school students since 1948. Its mission is to "build values-based leadership and civic engagement in California’s youth to strengthen our democracy."[non-primary source needed]
Their high school student programs include the Model Legislature and Court, National Judicial Program and the Spring Conference. Middle school students (grades 6-8) may participate in the state's Model United Nations program. The Model Legislature & Court Intern Program is for college students. Individuals more than 21 years of age may participate in the program as a volunteer staff member or adviser. The organization also has an alumni association.[nb 2]
California YMCA Youth & Government operates as an independently chartered YMCA.[non-primary source needed] In 2012 Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed bill AB 233 into law which allows for voluntary contributions on the personal income tax for the California YMCA Youth and Government Fund.
The Colorado YMCA Youth in Government had its first session in 1948. Each year, there is a General Assembly for high school students in the Colorado State Capitol in Denver that takes place over three days in November. Participants generally attend general training sessions prior to the General Assembly for their roles as legislators, lawyers, journalists or candidates. The program consists of a model bicameral legislature, a Supreme Court, and the press. Its programs cover each of the three branches of government.[non-primary source needed] Individuals over the age of 21 may participate as advisors.[non-primary source needed]
The Connecticut YMCA Youth and Government Program has been in operation since 1948. It introduces high school students to the operation of the Connecticut General Assembly via participation in a mock legislative session. The annual state conference is held at the State Capitol, which follows months of preparation developing and crafting bills.[nb 5] Another program is the Youth in Law program for exploration of the judicial branch of government.[nb 6]
Their programs include the 3 day Model Legislative Conference,[nb 7] participation in the Delaware High School Mock Trial Competition. Leading up to the Model Legislative Conference in April are Weekly Delegation Meetings, beginning in the month of January. There is also a one day Pre-Legislative training and Elections Conference held in late February or early March at Legislative Hall in Dover, DE.
The bills passed by during the Legislative Conference are presented to state legislators for consideration. Some of the youth government bills have been passed into law in Delaware.
The Florida YMCA Youth In Government program, founded in 1957, includes a Senior Youth In Government program (YIG) for high school students and a Junior Youth In Government program (JYIG) for middle school students. Their program examines the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government, including simulation of media and lobbyist interactions. The Junior program is a mock legislature.
The Georgia Youth In Government Program, which started in 1946, consists of a Youth Assembly (YA) and Senior Georgia United National Assembly (GUNA) for high school students and Junior Youth Assembly (JYA) and Junior GUNA for middle school students. Their program examines the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government, including simulation of media and lobbyist interactions. The Junior program is a mock legislature.
The Hawaii Youth In Government program conducts a Model Assembly, called the YMCA Hawaii State Youth Legislature for middle and high school students. Training and legislative bill creation occurs prior to a week-long session at the State Capitol.
The Idaho YMCA Youth Government program conducts a Model Assembly Program and Judicial Branch Program, which is open to high school students. Students may participate through local program or regional convention, where bill creation, judicial research and competition and campaigning for the state session at the State Capitol. Students who attend the regional convention may be elected to attend the state convention for the legislative session or state Supreme Court sessions.
Illinois YMCA's Youth and Government program, founded by YMCA executive director Douglas Monahan in 1949, simulates legislation and judicial processes for high school students (sophmores to seniors). Preliminary sessions occur in the fall where participants write bills or learn about and engage in judicial processes. In the spring, a 3 day conference is held at the State Capitol in Senate and House Chambers for the legislative assembly and a courtroom in the state Supreme Court building for the judicial branch.
Bills passed through the youth government legislative process are submitted to for review by the House and Senate.
The Indiana YMCA Youth and Government Program is a statewide hands-on program for high school students. It consists of a General Assembly, Executive branch, Supreme Court, and Press Corps. Eighth graders can participate as pages. The program begins in the fall, when participants meet to write and debate bills, prepare for judicial processed, campaign for governmental office, and prepare for the sessions at the state capitol.
Kansas YMCA Youth in Government conducts a Youth Legislature program for high school students. Participants attend sessions locally to create bills before attending a state conference in Topeka where they are argued in the Kansas State Capitol chambers.
- Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA)
- United Nations Assembly (KUNA)for middle school students.
- Y-Corps service learning program
- "Go-For-It!" conference.
The YMCA Louisiana Youth & Government program supports more than 60 high school clubs and two conferences annually: Model United Nations and Youth Legislature. The conference provides student participants with the experience of being a part of a functioning state government, from bill passage to policy advising. Participants are assigned to one of the following programs: Governor’s Cabinet, Lt. Governor’s Cabinet, Senate, House of Representatives, Policy Development Team, Supreme Court or Press. Positions of aides, couriers and liaisons are also available for student participation in this two-day program.[non-primary source needed]
The Maine Youth In Government program conducts a Model Assembly program in two phases: a regional training session and the Augusta State House Session, where they have use of the actual chambers of the House and Senate, and Capital facilities.[non-primary source needed] At the regional training session: bills are submitted, officers are elected and delegates determine which session they will attend. During the visit to the capital, participants debate the locally created bills.[non-primary source needed]
In 1945 the Maryland YMCA Youth & Government high school program had its first session. It conducts a Model Assembly program. After a statewide training sessions where they learn about the parliamentary process, students form delegations, research and debate issues, write bills and campaign among their peers. The culminating state-wide event is a three-day mock assembly in Annapolis, where Delegates meet for a three-day legislative session in the State Capitol. Delegates use the Maryland State House and committee rooms to debate their bills.[non-primary source needed]
The Massachusetts Youth and Government program consists of a legislative assembly program with legislative, judicial, lobbyists and the media functions. Sessions are conducted in advance of the annual state-wide event to create bills and perform the tasks needed to prepare for the conference in March. The annual state conference is held at the Massachusetts State House in Boston, Massachusetts. For those three days, students are able to take part in debate as well as develop essential leadership skills. A delegate in the legislative branch drafts and presents a bill each year in hopes of passing it through the house or senate chambers, and into law. At the annual spring conference, the executive branch positions for governor and lieutenant governor are announced and applicants for the Conference on National Affairs are chosen.[non-primary source needed]
The Michigan YMCA Youth in Government had its first session in 1954. On average, 1,600 students attend the conference. Each year, there is a General Assembly in the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing that takes place over five days in March. Like other programs, it consists of a model bicameral legislature and a press. Officer positions include Governor, Lieutenant Governor, President of the Senate, Speaker of the House, and Editor-in-Chief.
The Minnesota Youth In Government program consists of both a Model Assembly, representing the state legislative system, and a Model United Nations. Training sessions for delegates as well as elected and appointed officials are held throughout the year. The Model Assembly is run each January at the Minnesota State Capitol building in Saint Paul with nearly 1500 students in attendance.[non-primary source needed]
It consists of the legislative, judicial and executive branches. The legislative branch includes the drafting, debating and voting on bills and has the largest percentage of participants. The program has three judicial systems - a Trial Court, an Appeals Court, and a mock Supreme Court. The executive branch includes the Youth Governor, who vetoes and signs legislation from the upper legislatures, and Lt. Governor manages legislation from the lower legislatures.
The Mississippi Youth & Government program annually serves middle and high school students with leadership development opportunities. Approximately 1000 students participate in its programs, which include:[non-primary source needed]
- The Youth Legislature Conference for senior high school students who craft and debate bills locally in preparation for a three day legislative conference in Jackson, Mississippi.
- The Junior Youth Assembly Conference (JYA) for middle school students.
- The Model United Nations Conference (MUN) for middle school and high school students
- Summer Leadership Experience, a conference for senior high school students.
The Missouri Youth in Government (MOYIG) program brings over 700 Missouri youth to Jefferson City, Missouri, each year. There are two conventions: one in late November and the other in early December. MOYIG consists of legislative, judicial, and executive branches, and students are able to hold offices required to support the simulated government, such as legislators, governor, judges, journalists and more.
Missouri's Youth in Government holds a program called the Executive Branch Leadership Institute (EBLI) every spring, in which 30-40 students travel to Jefferson City to shadow a state department for two days. At the department they are presented with an issue or problem in Missouri and, on the last day of the program, present their opinions and creative solutions to a panel of judges. Scholarship awards are given at EBLI for the best teams and the best individual presenters.
Montana's program was organized in 1970, with the first Youth Legislature held in the spring of 1971. The following year it held a youth "Con-Con", corresponding with the state's 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention. The program serves over 300 young people.
The New Hampshire program is the YMCA Youth and Government.
New Jersey Youth and Government (NJ YAG) is a student debate and educational program modeled after New Jersey’s legislative process. The program has 500 members from 26 schools. Every spring, Youth and Government holds its 3 day conference in the New Jersey Statehouse. Delegates write their own bills, which proceed from committees to a bicameral legislature through sessions of debate. Bills successful enough to pass through both houses have the chance to reach the Governor’s desk and Cabinet. An election is held each year for the following year's Youth Governor of the program, who will be the figurehead of the conference and leader of the officer corps.
Each year, a conference wide service project is conducted. In the past this has been limited to a collection of items at conference, but in 2013, student leaders brought the vision of expanding the delegate experience outside of conference to life. On April 5th and 6th, 2013, ninety-four NJ Youth and Government delegates volunteered in seven different charities across the state. The charities included the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Elijah’s Promise, Trinity Church, Franklin Township Food Bank, Rise Community Center, Jon Bon Jovi Soul Kitchen, and Fisherman’s Mark . Volunteer activities ranged from pantry organization to cooking food to garden cleaning. Though not every school out of the 26 that came to conference were able to participate in the Day of Service, the program was able to further empower their delegates in Palmyra to plan their own Day of Service, which on April 20th at the Epworth United Methodist Church in Palmyra, showing that there is always the opportunity to give back.
The New Mexico program is YMCA Youth In Government.
First state to organize a Youth and Government program, New York holds its Youth and Government program in the capitol building each year. The New York State Youth and Government program includes an executive branch with a governor, lieutenant governor, and a cabinet. The legislative branch, now with two concurrent assemblies, includes a Senate and an Assembly. Meetings occur in the Assembly Chamber in the capital building and a room in the Legislative Office Building. The judicial branch consists of a chief justice, public defender, attorney general, associate justices, and attorneys. Lobbyists and the media also make up the team. Training is held in the YMCA's Teddy Roosevelt House.[non-primary source needed]
North Carolina has hosted an annual four-day Youth Legislator Assembly in downtown Raleigh since 1993. The conference includes Legislative, Judicial, Lobbyist, and Press programs. About 1500 students attended the 2010 conference, which is held in February.[non-primary source needed]
The Ohio YMCA Youth in Government convened first in 1952, is a program that consists of a two-house legislature, a judicial section, a press section and a group of lobbyists. Every year, the Ohio program holds a bill rating on a Saturday morning at the state house in Columbus. The Main Conference is held in the Ohio Capitol Building in Columbus.[non-primary source needed]
The Oklahoma Youth and Government program consists of a two-house Legislature, a criminal and appellate Judicial Section, video and print News Media, and a Youth Commission. Each year, the Oklahoma program has two delegate training sessions (typically in September/October) and two District Conferences (typically in November). The State Conference is a three-day event that begins with a dinner and keynote speaker on Thursday nght, continues with a full day at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Friday followed by an evening of fellowship activities, and ends with a half day at the Capitol and closing banquet on Saturday.[non-primary source needed]
Oregon YMCA Youth and Government model legislature at the State Capitol building. The program provides students with the opportunity to simulate and learn government processes and problem solve for issues affecting the state.
The Pennsylvania Youth and Government program was founded in 1946 by Lieutenant Governor Daniel B. Strickler.[nb 8] It simulates the legislative and judicial branches of government. The Commonwealth is divided into Eastern and Western sections, which both hold individual Elections Conventions and Pre-Legislative Sessions before combining into a single group for a Model Weekend in late April in the Commonwealth's Capital Building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The largest branch is the Legislature, with both a House of Representatives and a Senate. During the process of creating and finalizing bills students learn about Parliamentary Procedure, which is modeled after Robert's Rules. The Judicial Branch conducts appellant-level trial proceedings in the Supreme Court Chambers. The elected Governor and cabinet officials of the Administrative Branch are responsible for running the conventions, lobbying for or against bills, and holding press conferences. The Press Corps consists of a newspaper and media staff.[non-primary source needed]
Middle-school students have a program focused primarily on the legislative process. These delegates debate their own bills, and can also serve as Pages to the Legislators.
- High School Mock Legislature - The annual 4-day conference is held during the third week of November on the state's capitol grounds in Columbia. The conference includes legislative, judicial, and executive branches and press programs.
- Horizons Values Conference is held every May.
- Leadership Conference at Pawleys Island takes place every September.
- Middle School Mock Legislature has about 300 participants.
- Middle School Model United Nations conference every April, and is unique because it is staffed by high school Youth in Government participants.
As of 2012, South Carolina sends attorney teams to the summer National Judicial Program in Chicago.
Tennessee's Youth in Government program is the second largest in the nation, with approximately 3500 participating in Youth In Government and Model United Nations conferences. The program is conducted by the YMCA Center for Civic Engagement in Nashville. Youth in Government is an annual conference held for high school and middle school students on the State Capitol to simulate legislative and judicial processes. Each fall, a Model United Nations conference is sponsored, which has a model International Court of Justice.
The Texas program is YMCA Youth and Government.
Washington State's Youth and Government program has over 1,000 student participants annually. They sponsor Youth Legislature and judicial, or mock trial, programs. The district winning judicial teams compete for the State Championship in Olympia in March. The Youth Legislature is divided into four districts and convenes as a state in Olympia for four days in May. [non-primary source needed]
The Wisconsin program is Youth In Government.
- The 12 states without a youth government program include: Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming.
- As an example of the program at work in California, in 2006 students first attended a training camp. Then, in the the wake of Hurricane Katrina, students participating in the Youth & Government program spent 6 months drafting, debating and crafting a bill to add emergency preparedness training to school's health curricula to the State Education Code. The exercise included students taking the role of assembly members, senators, and lobbyists. The program: "Not only does the youth and government program teach students about the workings of government, it gives them an opportunity to interact with various political leaders and gives them an chance to meet students from other parts of the state.
- The Youth Governor’s Conference, established in 1949, serves as a weeklong national servant leadership training session for all students elected to serve as Governor (or in some cases Chief Justice or Secretary General) of their state programs.
- The YMCA of Southern Arizona conducts a Youth and Government local program and participates at the state level. Its goal in working with the youth of Tuscon is to "promote the development of civic responsibilities, attitudes, skills and behaviors."[non-primary source needed]
- The Connecticut program includes writing, debating and presenting a bill at the state conference. Lobbyists write position papers and journals write newspaper articles. Leadership positions include chairing a committee, presiding over House or Senate debate, advising the Youth Governor. Delegates can create political parties or run for a position, such as Attorney General or Governor.
- The Connecticut Youth has participants study a court case and prepare legal arguments for presentation in an appellate court setting.[non-primary source needed]
- After preparation, debating and writing bills, participants attend a 3-day model legislature session at Dover's Legislative Hall. Positions include Presiding Officers, Representatives, Senators, governor, lobbyists, press or page corps.
- Pennsylvania's David B. Strickler Service to Youth award was named to honor the late Lieutenant Governor, Lancaster YMCA president, and founder of the states Youth and Government program.
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