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Growing the next generation of civically engaged Californians

Since 1948, the YMCA’s Youth & Government (Y&G) program has provided an unmatched
experiential learning opportunity for high school students. By modeling California’s
legislature and courts, participants can build skills such as critical thinking, persuasive
speech and writing, project management, and collaboration. Our program is rooted in the
YMCA’s core values of Caring, Honesty, Respect, and Responsibility, and believes in the
importance of servant leadership and media literacy to a healthy democracy.

Our goal is to grow the next generation of civically engaged Californians. Civically engaged
Californians recognize the importance of:

  • Civic Knowledge: They understand the structure and function of government.
  • Civic Awareness: They can identify the major issues facing their communities.
  • Civic Action: They are equipped with the tools they’ll need to make change in their community.

Delegates will focus on one of several program areas that model California state
government and which are designed to equip them with the tools they need to become and
remain civically engaged throughout life and to advocate for themselves and their
communities. Delegates will learn about trending policy topics in subject areas like
education, the environment, public safety, and more. They'll learn how legislation is made
as they act as Legislators, Advocates, or Analysts. A court program will teach participants
about the impact of lawsuits and legal decisions on public policy. Delegates can even model
journalists and learn how to produce news articles and videos.


The program year runs from August through March. We currently have delegations based
in Sacramento, El Dorado Hills, and western Nevada County. Delegation meetings are led by
the student officer team. During meetings, delegates have the chance to get to know one
another, learn about the basic structures of government, hear from guest speakers, and
hear about program leadership opportunities. They’ll also practice their public speaking
skills during frequent debates and discussions about today’s top issues.


Delegates attend a local coalition conference and two in-person statewide conferences
where they will interact with other Delegates from around California. At statewide
conferences, Delegates will hear from keynote speakers, run for elected officer positions, receive training on their program areas, and put into practice everything they have learned throughout the program year.

Participation in Youth & Government programming constitutes an excused absence under
the California Education Code. Delegates must attend conferences in full (no in-and-out


Weekly Meetings Begin:

  • August 17, 2023 for our El Dorado Hills Delegation
  • August 23, 2023 for our Sacramento Delegation
  • August 24, 2023 for our western Nevada County delegation


  • Sunday, October 15, 2023, Capitol Coalition Day, Sacramento-area location TBA
  • Thursday, November 9 – Sunday, November 12, 2023, Camp Roberts, San Miguel, CA (transportation provided)
  • Saturday, January 20 - Pancakes & Program Areas, Sacramento-area location TBA
  • Friday, February 16 – Monday, February 19, 2024, California State Capitol, Sacramento, CA


Our program fee for the 2023-24 year is $1600. Financial assistance is available.

We are committed to equal program access for all and are dedicated to ensuring the benefits of Y&G are available to every student in our community without regard to financial need. No delegate should ever drop out or refrain from joining because of financial concerns. If you want to do this program, we want you to do this program!

Questions? Contact:


To join our volunteer adult advising team, visit 


Register today for a life-changing experience

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