New State Programs

Representing Your State

As we work to expand YMCA Youth and Government to every state around the country, students interested in representing states currently without programs have several ways to be part of our national movement:

Alaska Puerto Rico
Arkansas Rhode Island
Georgia South Dakota
Iowa Utah
Mississippi Vermont
Nebraska West Virginia
North Dakota Wyoming

If you currently live in one of the states/territories listed above, here’s how you can take part in Youth and Government:

  • Apply to Serve as Youth Governor
    For those states without programs, high school juniors/rising seniors can apply to serve as the Youth Governor for their state each spring and summer, with appointments announced before the start of your senior year. This is a year-long commitment that includes recruiting and selecting your Youth Cabinet, and engaging youth across your state on a policy agenda.
  • Attend a National Program
    All of our national programs are available to students in states without programs, including the YMCA Changemakers Institute, YMCA Conference on National Affairs, YMCA National Judicial Competition, and YMCA Youth Advocate Program. Visit the pages for each program to learn how you can apply/register to participate.
  • Start a Local or State Program
    If you are interested in starting a local or statewide Youth and Government program, please reach out to Derek Summerville at, and we will get you connected with the Y in your community or your State Alliance of YMCAs.


Apply to Serve as Youth Governor

For states that don’t yet have a formal elections process to select their Youth Governor, current high school juniors/rising seniors can apply to be appointed as the Youth Governor of their state to serve during their senior year. The application process opens each spring, and selected students are appointed prior to the start of the upcoming school year:

2021-22 Youth Governor Application (Opens June 14th)
Deadline: July 31st, 2021

Students appointed as Youth Governors will begin their term at the start of the school year, and represent their states on the national level as members of the Youth Governors Association (YGA).

During the first semester of their term in office, our appointed Youth Governors will first recruit and select a Youth Cabinet of students their state to serve as part of their administration. Once they have identified their cabinet, they will work to identify 3 youth policy issues in their state connected to the Y’s commitment to youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

In the second semester, they will work with their cabinet and students across their states to advocate for their policy agenda at the local and state level, culminating with a virtual or in-person meeting with government officials.


Attend a National Program

In addition to our state-based Youth and Government events and conferences, the Y hosts several national programs that are available to students from all states. Read more about each of these experiences on our national programs page, and then view the steps below to represent your state:

  • Changemakers Institute | Summer
    Registration is open to students from all states, and opens online each spring. The Institute takes place over 6 weeks, and is primarily virtual with a new in-person experience coming in 2022.
  • Conference on National Affairs (CONA) | Summer
    For students from states without a Youth and Government program, you can register to represent your state at CONA as an individual delegate. You’ll be paired with other individual delegates from around the country as part of a multi-state delegation during the conference.
  • National Judicial Competition (NJC) | Summer
    To attend NJC, you’ll need to organize a team of students, along with an adult chaperone, and choose whether you want to take part in our trial or appellate court competitions.
  • Youth Advocate Program | Winter
    For our Youth Advocate Program that takes place during YMCA National Advocacy Days in Washington, DC, we select two students per state to join staff and volunteers as we advocate for the Y’s legislative priorities with Members of Congress. This opportunity is open to all high school students in all states, and applications open early each fall.
  • Youth Governors Association (YGA) | Year-round
    For those states without Youth and Government programs, all high school juniors/rising seniors can apply to be appointed as the Youth Governor of their state, and serve during their senior year. Appointed Governors will join our elected Governors as members of the Youth Governors Association.


Starting Local & State Programs

Just as every local and state government reflects the communities they serve, so do our Youth and Government programs. No state program is identical, and that means starting a program in your community or state can be a collaborative and flexible process that creates the greatest impact for your youth participants.

To schedule a consultation, please email Derek Summerville at, and we will send you the resources and toolkit to get started on bringing Youth and Government to your area.