Youth Voice

Overview of Youth Voice Initiatives

In addition to our state and national programs, Youth and Government 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 at the local, state, national, and international levels.

These initiatives, which include youth-led proposals addressing critical issues or needs in communities, team-based advocacy on specific policy areas, registering and engaging youth voters, and advising the Y-USA on youth priorities, each help inspire action both in and across the diverse array of communities served by the Y movement.


Changemakers Projects

High school students are invited to propose a YMCA Changemakers Project addressing a critical issue or need in their communities. Each project must be led by two (2) student Project Leaders. Additional students from your community are encouraged to support the project as needed, but only two students can apply as leaders.

One (1) project per state will be selected to attend the final 3 days of the YMCA Youth Governors Conference in Washington, D.C. each summer. All travel and conference expenses for the two Project Leaders from the selected project, along with a YMCA Staff chaperone from your community or state, are fully covered.

At the conference, the two Project Leaders from each state will present their Changemakers Project proposal to the members of our YMCA Youth Governors Association, who will choose 3 projects to each receive $5,000 in funding.


Youth Advisory Council

The Y-USA Youth Advisory Council is made up of young people from across the country to advise and support the Y-USA CEO, Executive Team, and Y-USA 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 YMCAs, and the full array of the Y’s youth development and engagement programs, strategies, and opportunities.


Youth Voice Teams

Our YMCA Youth Voice Teams work to address specific issues directly connected to youth communities or areas of interest. This focused advocacy experience provides a unique opportunity to elevate and de-polarize topics and conversations that are relevant and critical to the lives of young people.

Each team, consisting of 16-20 students selected to represent a distinct community or issue area, will train together virtually before traveling to Washington, DC to engage with policymakers, partners, and practitioners.


Youth Voter Engagement

The Y is working to transform the culture around youth voting in our schools and communities, ensuring the highest possible rates of youth voter turnout and engaging youth voices at all levels of government.

Whether you’re registering youth voters, celebrating one or more Civic Holidays during election season each year, working to receive a youth voter registration award in your state, or helping get out of the vote (GOTV) during early voting or on Election Day, there are numerous ways to engage youth voters at the Y.