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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 have the opportunity to 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.

The program is offered through the collaborative effort of local YMCAs.  Participants meet weekly with their local delegations from August through February and attend two statewide conferences with participants from across California.


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.


In addition to weekly meetings, Delegates will attend a local coalition conference and
two in-person statewide conferences where they will interact with other Delegates from
around Northern California. At statewide conferences, Delegates will hear from keynote
speakers, run for elected officer positions, receive training on their program areas, and

Depending on district calendars, delegates may miss up to 4 days of school to attend
conferences. Participation in Youth & Government programming constitutes an excused
absence under the California Education Code. Delegates must attend conferences in
full (no in-and-out privileges).


Delegates will focus on one of several available program areas 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.

Fees and financial aid

Our program fee for the 2022-23 year is $1700. 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 


Check back for our 2023-24 Program year information! Sign up for our Mailing List