Take Action

Each opportunity to take action is listed chronologically by deadline, and the links to each of the opportunities can also be found on our official YMCA Youth and Government Linktree: linktr.ee/ymcayag

To receive weekly updates on opportunities to take action, please join our mailing list, which will also include reminders prior to final deadlines for each action. If you would like to submit a national or international opportunity for action to be shared on this page, please send an email to derek@ymcayag.org.


Support the Civics Secures Democracy Act

The bipartisan Civics Secures Democracy Act (H.R. 1814) is the largest ever federal investment in civics education – $1 billion to states, non-profits, institutions of higher education, and researchers to support and expand access to civics and history education. The YMCA of the USA is proud to endorse this bill alongside over 100 partners and organizations.

We recruiting a coalition of Student Sponsors in all 50 states and 435 congressional districts (view our sponsor tracker and coalition map) to support $200 million per year for nonprofits to expand access to civics programs like Youth and Government, and asking you to email your Representative and Senators to sponsor the bill in Congress:

Become a Sponsor Here | Email Congress Here
Deadline: Ongoing – Join Our Coalition!


Add Your Voice to #CivicsForUs Listening Tour

iCivics created the Youth As Civic Experts network as a platform for students to explore equity in civic education. The #CivicsForUs Listening Tour is the largest effort by students to understand what young people across the nation think about their own civic learning experience. Our Youth As Civic Experts students will take findings from this effort to create a national social media campaign and report.

We need your help! Please take a couple of minutes to fill out our survey. Your responses will help us as we advocate this spring for high-quality civic education that meets the needs of every student:

Add Your Voice to #CivicsForUs
Deadline: Ongoing


Advance Youth Equity – An Historic Gift

Alongside over 300 other nonprofit organizations around the country, the YMCA of the USA, as well as 43 local YMCAs, were the recipients of an unprecedented philanthropic gift from MacKenzie Scott.

In addition to helping the Y recover from COVID-19, advancing equity – with a focus on youth, is a top priority. To help guide our movement with this priority, we’re asking youth to submit ideas for how they think the Y can help advance youth equity:

Submit Ideas to Advance Youth Equity Here
Deadline: Ongoing


Join the Born This Way Foundation Advisory Board

The Born This Way Foundation is excited to announce their search for the next class of Advisors, and they’re looking for kind, aspirational, and ingenious youth changemakers making a substantial impact in communities around the globe.

Their team of Advisors will play a pivotal role in the planning and execution of programs, campaigns, and projects core to their mission. To fill this exciting and vital pillar of their organization, Born This Way Foundation is seeking a representative, inclusive group of youth leaders (ages 15 to 24) from around the world:

Apply for the Born This Way Board
Deadline: April 10, 2021 (New Deadline)


Answer the Riley’s Way Call for Kindness

Answer the Call for Kindness by submitting a new or existing teen-led project rooted in Riley’s Way values – kindness, empathy, leadership, and connection-making – and that tackles anything from pressing equity and social justice issues to building meaningful connections in your school or community. In addition to our general category, we’re going to be selecting up to 5 projects specifically focused on food insecurity to address the growing need for solutions in this critical space.

This year, as many as 30 teen-led projects will be awarded up to $3,000 each, and the winners will join a strong community of Kindness Fellows from across the country to work together in a fellowship program that will support your project, and expand your leadership and life skills along the way:

Answer the Call for Kindness Here
Deadline: April 7, 2021


Enter the T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge

The T-Mobile Foundation, T-Mobile and Ashoka, are teaming up again this year to kick off the third Changemaker Challenge. This nationwide opportunity gives trailblazing young leaders (ages 13 to 18) the chance to take their ideas on how to create more connected, sustainable and inclusive communities and make them a reality.

They are looking for innovative ideas that focus on Technology, the Environment or Education – all with an eye towards creating more connected, sustainable and inclusive communities. Teams with winning ideas will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Bellevue, WA for the 3-day intensive Changemaker Lab along with ongoing mentorship, skills development, and up to $15,000 in seed funding to supercharge their ideas. Teams can enter the challenge until April 8:

Enter the T-Mobile Challenge Here
Deadline: April 8, 2021 | 9pm PST


Apply for Global Youth Mobilization Grants

The world’s largest youth movements, including the World YMCA have joined forces with the World Health Organization and UN Foundation to launch the Global Youth Mobilization for Generation Disrupted. This groundbreaking initiative will invest and scale-up youth-led solutions and youth engagement, directing support towards a generation of young people severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World YMCA is currently seeking applications for small grants implemented by national YMCA movements. Eligible projects should provide opportunities for youth to support their local communities’ pandemic response and recovery through volunteer activities, the delivery of non-formal education, and other activities which develop the skills, perseverance and resilience needed to become active citizens and well-rounded adults:

Apply for Global Youth Mobilization Grants Here
Deadline: April 12, 2021


Enter the New York Times Student Editorial Contest

What makes you mad? What would you like to see change? What do you wish more people understood? Over the last seven years, thousands of teens from around the world have answered these questions in the form of short opinion essays submitted to the annual New York Times Student Editorial Contest.

Now we’re inviting you to do the same. Make an argument in 450 words or fewer about something that matters to you, and persuade us that we should care, too. Students ages 11 to 19 anywhere in the world attending middle or high school can participate. Read the instructions carefully to determine the best way to participate:

Enter the Student Editorial Contest Here
Deadline: April 13, 2021 | 11:59 PM PT


Lead Racial Healing: Power of Youth Challenge Grants

The Power of Youth Challenge: Youth Leading Racial Healing is a leadership and service opportunity through America’s Promise Alliance supporting youth-designed projects that promote racial equity and address systemic racism. The Challenge provides young people (ages 13-19) across the U.S. with the opportunity to identify a need in their communities related to racial healing and apply for a $250 grant to support a (COVID-safe) service project.

The Challenge, made possible with generous support from The Allstate Foundation, launched on January 19, 2021, the National Day of Racial Healing. Young people can submit their project ideas until April 30, 2021. Projects will be evaluated and funded on a rolling basis:

Apply to Lead Racial Healing Here
Deadline: April 15, 2021 (New Deadline)


Enter the Kidizenship & YMCA Make Your Speech Contest

The YMCA is proud to co-host Kidizenship’s Make Your Speech Contest, open to all students ages 8-18! Kidizenship is a non-partisan, non-profit platform for youth that reaches beyond the classroom, merging civics with creative self-expression and community action.

The contest will be judged in two age categories: 8-12 and 13-18, with $1000, $750, and $500 prizes in each category. Our all-star judges for this contest are Julia Louis-Dreyfus from HBO’s VEEP; Jon Favreau, head speechwriter for President Obama and co-host of Pod Save America; Baratunde Thurston, a writer, comedian, and host of How To Citizen; and former Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX):

Enter the Kidizenship Contest Here
Deadline: April 16, 2021


Nominate the National History Teacher of the Year

Nominations are now open for the National History Teacher of the Year Award. Any full-time educator of grades K–12 who teaches American history (including state and local history) is eligible for consideration. Nominations can be made by a student, parent, colleague, or principal or other administrator familiar with the teacher’s work.

A finalist will be selected from each state, and receive a prize package including a certificate of recognition, a $1,000 award, and a collection of resources to be presented in their name to the school library. Each winner’s school will become a Gilder Lehrman Affiliate School. State winners are honored in a ceremony in their state, and are finalists for the National History Teacher of the Year Award:

Nominate Your History Teacher Here
Deadline: April 30, 2021 (New Deadline)


Nominate a Teacher for Karma for Cara Grant

Teachers have always played an important role in shaping young leaders and helping students get involved in service. Social media has also become an important tool that helps young leaders find their voice. We want to combine the two and give students across the country an opportunity to recognize the amazing teachers who go above and beyond to create good karma in their classroom and the world around us.

Karma for Cara is inviting students to use social media to nominate an outstanding teacher, so we can recognize their hard work and dedication. The top teachers will receive a $2,000 grant to support their classrooms, club, or school project:

Nominate Your Teacher Here
Deadline: April 30, 2021 (New Deadline)


Submit Art for EAD Roadmap Contest

As part of the Educating for American Democracy Roadmap, there are Five Design Challenges that will require students and educators to grapple with complex questions in civics and history—those that most would agree do not have a clear or right answer.

This contest offers students the opportunity to create original art for a chance to win a cash prize and have their work featured nationwide. Students artists can create a two-dimensional original artwork to represent one of the five design challenges, and may submit up to one (1) entry for each challenge. Two-dimensional artwork includes painting, drawing, mixed media, computer graphics, collages, and photography:

Submit Art for Roadmap Contest Here
Deadline: May 31, 2021