Youth Voice

Elevating Youth Voices

In addition to our state and national Youth and Government programs, participants are also encouraged to take part in the Y’s youth voice initiatives, which engage young people as active contributors and stakeholders in decision-making.

These initiatives, which include youth-led proposals addressing critical needs in communities, youth advocacy on the Y’s federal policy priorities, and advising Y-USA leadership on emerging youth issues, help inspire action across the diverse array of communities served by the Y movement.

Changemakers Projects

High school students in all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico are invited to propose a YMCA Changemakers Project that addresses a critical issue or need in their communities. YMCA of the USA will select outstanding proposals from across the country to compete for funding to implement their projects.

The issue/need you select is entirely up to you, but should be directly connected to your local community. Each project must be led by two (2) student project leaders. Additional students from your community are encouraged to support the project, but only two students can apply as leaders.

  • All high school students (grades 9-12) in all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico are eligible to submit a project proposal (all proposals must have 2 project leaders). No prior experience or participation with the Y or YMCA programs is required.
  • Proposals selected to compete for funding will be notified following the deadline.

Learn More & Apply Here
Check the application for this year’s deadlines

Youth Advocate Program

Sponsored by YMCA of the USA, this four-month program brings up to 2 high school students per state to YMCA National Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C. to meet with their Members of Congress and advocate for policy solutions that help Ys address critical issues in our three areas of impact: youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

  • Applications open at the start of each school year, with selected Youth Advocates committing to virtual trainings and assignments from late fall through YMCA National Advocacy Days in the winter.
  • All high school students (grades 9-12) who are YMCA members, volunteers, or participants in YMCA programs like Youth and Government are eligible to apply.

Learn More & Apply Here
Check the application for this year’s deadlines

Y-USA Youth Advisory Council

The Y-USA Youth Advisory Council is made up of young people from across the country to advise and support Y-USA’s senior leadership and national board on emerging issues, opportunities, programs, priorities, and strategic decision-making to help the Y remain relevant at the local, state, national and global level.

Council members will represent their home communities, local Ys, and the full spectrum of the Y’s youth development and engagement programs, strategies, and opportunities.