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:
The 2022 Youth Advocate Program at YMCA National Advocacy Days* will take place February 14-16, 2022.
*National Advocacy Days will follow all CDC health and safety guidance and local policies on COVID-19 protocols.
Applications for the Youth Advocate Program open each fall. Up to 50 high school students will be selected from across the country to participate:
Interested students should consider the following criteria before applying:
The fee to participate in the Youth Advocate Program is $250, which includes:
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.
To ensure that all Youth Advocates are as prepared as possible for their role at National Advocacy Days, all students are required to participate in virtual training sessions. Additional information will be shared in advance of each session:
As part of their training, Youth Advocates also complete a series of assignments:
1. Community Profile | Due: Dec. 1, 2021
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 a branch executive/director.
2. Peer Interview | Due: Jan. 3, 2022
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. State Alliance Call | Due: Feb. 2, 2022
Youth Advocates will connect with their State YMCA Alliance staff to learn more about the Y’s impact in their state, select a federal legislative priority for their action plans, and begin planning for Hill Meetings.
4. Action Plan | Due: Feb. 9, 2022
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.