Youth Advocate Program

Program Dates

February 12-15, 2023
Washington, D.C.

 

Program Resources

Program Application
Program Flyer (PDF)
Program Spotlight Video
YMCA Advocacy & Priorities

 

Youth Advocate Program Overview

Sponsored by YMCA of the USA’s Government Relations office, this four-month program – culminating at YMCA National Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C. – creates opportunities for high school students to gain practical, real-world experience advocating for policy solutions that help Ys address critical social issues in our three areas of focus: youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

As a part of the Youth Advocate Program, participants will:

  • Participate in virtual training sessions and network with peers from around the country
  • Better understand the Y’s history, mission, brand, impact, advocacy efforts, and legislative priorities
  • Collaborate with their local Y and YMCA State Alliances to craft an advocacy plan
  • Learn how to work with local, state, and federal officials to advance policy solutions
  • Meet with Members of Congress and staff to share their Y stories and advocate for Y priorities
  • Strengthen the civic health of their schools, communities, and Ys

Watch our program spotlight to learn more about the experience in DC , then click below to see the states and Ys represented by our current cohort of Youth Advocates:

2022 YMCA Youth Advocates

For more information about the Youth Advocate Program, please email Derek Summerville at derek.summerville@ymca.net.

 

Application Process

Applications for the Youth Advocate Program open each fall. Up to 2 high school students per state will be selected from across the country to participate:

Youth Advocate Application

Interested students should consider the following criteria before applying:

  • Must be a current YMCA member or program participant
  • Must be mature, motivated, and comfortable sharing their Y stories
  • Interested in serving as advocates and leaders in their community
  • Passionate about representing the Y on a national level
  • Past Youth Advocate participants are not eligible to apply
  • Freshmensophomores and juniors will be given preference.
  • Y-USA is looking for student representation that reflects all dimensions of diversity. 

 

Program Fees & Transportation

The fee to participate in the Youth Advocate Program is up to $300, with the final amount to be determined based on philanthropic support. This program fee includes:

  • Registration for National Advocacy Days
  • Meals (except while traveling to/from DC)
  • Hotel Accommodations (3 hotel nights).

This fee does not include transportation costs to/from DC. However, Y-USA will offer limited travel scholarships to Youth Advocates who need it (i.e. those who reside in hard to reach areas or areas not close to a transportation hub). Youth Advocates also work with their local Ys and YMCA State Alliances to partially or fully cover their fees and transportation.

If you have any questions about program fees/cost, please reach out to derek.summerville@ymca.net.

 

COVID-19 Policy

To ensure the safety of all participants, Youth Advocates and Chaperones will be required to present one of the following upon arrival at YMCA National Advocacy Days in DC:

  • COVID-19 Vaccination (Official Vaccination Card or Government-Issued E-Cards); OR
  • Negative COVID-19 Test (at-home tests accepted, PCR tests encouraged if available), conducted no earlier than 72 hours prior to travel to DC

Note: If public health conditions necessitate, Y-USA may require all attendees to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test regardless of vaccination status.

No personal health information, vaccination records, or test results will be recorded or stored by YMCA of the USA during this process – only verification that the participant provided one of the two required forms of documentation at check-in.

 

Trainings & Assignments

To ensure that all Youth Advocates are as prepared as possible for their role at National Advocacy Days, all participants are required to attend four virtual training sessions. Additional information will be shared in advance of each session:

  • Training Session 1 | Overview and YMCA Principles & Practices
  • Training Session 2 | YMCA State & Federal Advocacy Structure
  • Training Session 3 | Y-USA Legislative Priorities & Advocacy Plans
  • Training Session 4 | National Advocacy Days Logistics

As part of their training, Youth Advocates also complete a series of assignments:

1. Community Profile
Designed to help Youth Advocates learn as much as possible about their local community and YMCA, including a visit (virtual or in-person) and interview with the branch executive or program director.

2. Peer Interview
Youth Advocates will be paired to interview each other about their Community Profiles, helping them understand the breadth and depth of YMCA programs and services nationally, and how Ys in other states may differ or be similar. 

3. Advocacy Plan
Completed in collaboration with their State YMCA Alliances, this plan brings together everything Youth Advocates will need to be successful during their Hill Meetings at Advocacy Days, including their Y story, their selected legislative priority, list and schedule of confirmed/planned meetings, and next steps for continued advocacy in their states/communities.