Youth Advocate Program

Program Information

Dates: TBA 2022

Location: Hotel TBA
Washington, DC

Contact: Derek Summerville

Application: Coming Soon

Youth Advocate Program Overview

YMCA of the USA’s Government Relations office sponsors the Youth Advocate Program at YMCA National Advocacy Days. The program offers high school students the opportunity to advocate at the local and federal levels on behalf of the Y’s three areas of focus: youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

Youth Advocates participate in National Advocacy Days in Washington, DC as well as youth-specific opportunities, trainings, and workshops. This separate programming will help Youth Advocates learn more about the Y, national policymaking, Y-USA advocacy efforts, public policy career tracks and much more:

Sample Youth Advocate Program Agenda (PDF)

While at National Advocacy Days, Youth Advocates will:

  • Learn about Y-USA’s national legislative priorities
  • Hear from thought leaders about the Ys role and impact in communities
  • Visit with members of Congress and/or their staff and share their Y story
  • Connect with Youth Advocates from across the country
  • Meet with Y-USA, YMCA and state alliance leadership from across the country

One of the key components of the program are Hill Meetings at the US Capitol with members of Congress. Youth Advocates attend these meetings alongside their state delegations, which can include State YMCA Alliance staff, YMCA leadership (CEOs and/or Board Members), and other YMCA staff/volunteers.


Application Process

Interested students should contact their Youth and Government state program for more information about how their state selects and nominates applicants.

Nominees must complete the Youth Advocate Application at the link below:

Youth Advocate Application (Coming Soon) | Deadline: TBA


Forms & Registration

If selected, youth advocates must submit their participant forms, online registration, and travel itineraries. Participant forms must be signed by youth advocates and their parents/guardians, then emailed to Elena Rocha at

Participant Forms (Coming Soon) | Deadline: TBA

The online registration form includes payment of their program fee. This fee covers their hotel rooms (2 students per room), and all meals except those while traveling.

Youth Advocates do NOT need hotel reservations – their rooms will be reserved by Y-USA. We encourage youth to coordinate with YMCA staff when completing online registration:

Online Registration (Coming Soon) | Deadline: TBA

Finally, to help ensure that students travel safely, students must complete and submit an online travel itinerary.

Travel Itinerary (Coming Soon)| Deadline: TBA

Youth Advocates traveling by themselves must fly into and out of Washington National Airport (DCA) or by train into Union Station. Please plan your travel as follows:

  • Flights/trains should arrive no later than (TBA)
  • Flights/trains should depart no earlier than (TBA)

If traveling alone, Youth Advocates will be greeted at the airport/station by chaperones. They will also be escorted by chaperones for their departure.

Students being driven by parents/guardians should arrive at the hotel by no later than , where they will check-in Y-USA Staff. For departure, students will be told where and when they should be picked-up.


Program Chaperones

YMCA program staff from around the country serve as chaperones for our youth advocates, accompanying them for the full duration of the program. Chaperones are responsible for leading family groups, facilitating programming outside of the National Advocacy Days agenda, and ensuring youth safety.

During Hill Meetings, youth advocates will be accompanied by members of their state delegations, which include state alliance staff, YMCA CEOs and/or Board Members, or YMCA staff. Parents/Guardians grant permission to these additional staff and volunteers when they sign the participant forms for their students.

It is strongly recommended that youth advocates be accompanied by a chaperone from their state. If you or a colleague are interested in potentially serving as a chaperone, please email Derek Summerville at


Training Sessions

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 disseminated in advance of each training call.

  1. Program Overview
  2. YMCA Principles & Practices
  3. YMCA State/Federal Advocacy
  4. Legislative Priorities & Program Agenda


Program Assignments

As part of their preparation for YMCA National Advocacy Days, Youth Advocates are required to complete a series of assignments. To help complete your assignments, please use the materials available in our Online Resource Folder.

1. Community Profile
Online Submission | Template | Deadline: TBA

  • The Community Profile is a series of questions designed to help Youth Advocates learn as much as possible about their local YMCA (including a branch visit) and Y programs, school, and community.
  • Please record your responses on the template, then submit using the online form.

2. Partner Interview
Online Submission | Template | Deadline: TBA

  • After receiving their community profiles, we will pair-up youth advocates from different states and ask them to schedule a call to share their profiles and learn more about the Y in other states.
  • Please record your responses on the interview template during your call, and then submit using the online form (each peer will submit their own responses).

3. State Alliance Call
Online Submission | Template | Deadline: TBA

  • To ensure that Youth Advocates have connected with their State Alliances prior to Advocacy Days, we ask that YMCA State Alliance staff help schedule a call with their Youth Advocates to review and respond to the items on the alliance call template.
  • Please record your responses on the call template, and then submit using the online form (if a state has 2 youth advocates, both must submit the form individually).

4. Action Plan
Online Submission | Template Deadline: TBA

  • To prepare for your Hill Meetings during Advocacy Days, each Youth Advocate will complete an Action Plan. A key component of your action plan is the Y-USA Legislative Priority you choose to advocate for during your meetings. If your state is sending two Youth Advocates, make sure each advocate chooses a different priority.
  • Please complete your plan on the template, and then submit it using the online form.


Packing List & Dress Code

Please prepare to dress in business attire, with comfortable shoes. Most activities will require business attire, which is a suit or coat, dress shirt and tie for men, and dress or coordinated pantsuit with dress blouse/shirt for ladies.

Winter in Washington, DC is cold! Please pack warmly – for both your professional attire and your casual attire. Please be aware that you may be visiting with many influential leaders in prestigious locations, which require that we all have a business professional look.

For evening programming, you may wish to change into business casual attire – clothes that are comfortable but look nice enough for you to represent the Y at National Advocacy Days. Please keep in mind that Y leaders may wish to participate in or observe portions of the evening programming, so it will be important to maintain a professional appearance and attitude.