Executive Summary

The State YMCA of Pennsylvania runs youth and teen programming in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for middle school, high school, and college students. The flagship program is Youth & Government, a civic engagement and service-learning program in the United States that offers students the opportunity to serve in a model government process at the local, state, national, and international levels. The Youth & Government program was established in 1936 in New York by Clement “Pete” Duran, then the Boys Work Secretary of the Albany YMCA.  As of 2023, the program currently operates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, serving nearly 60,000 students around the country. The motto of the program is “Democracy must be learned by each generation.”

Pennsylvania’s Youth & Government programs currently serves more than 600 students across Pennsylvania. The students simulate in various facets of government throughout the year. Unique to this program is the gathering of students from various regions, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds and the ability for students to meet in the hallowed halls of our Commonwealth’s Capitol.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provides facilities and volunteers from various staff who act as resources for the students while they debate the issues. The volunteers help guide the students through mock committee meetings. The students debate and vote on the bills that they themselves have written and presented. Bills that pass in committee are then taken to the floor of the House or Senate for a full debate and vote. Students are also selected to act as Lobbyists and Press Corps further mirroring the functions of the state government.  In addition to high school and middle school legislative chambers, the students also participate in the Executive Branch through a student-elected Governor and the Judicial Branch through a student-selected Supreme Court. The Youth & Government program is a one-of-a-kind full mock experience covering every branch of government and simulating a real-life experience for the student participants.

In addition to the state-level programs, the State YMCA encourages high school graduates to participate in a National College Youth In Government program aimed at taking the experiences of the high school program to the next level. Across the county, college students organize in College YIG Chapters. These chapters work with local students, YMCAs and other groups to continue to develop the leaders of tomorrow and advocate for and support the YMCA. The College YIG program culminates in a National Assembly each year bringing the students from across the country together for a four day Model of the Federal Government.

The State YMCA believes in developing a deep sense of servant leadership in young people. Students in the PA YMCA Y-Corps program design and execute individual community service projects and raise money to fund a mobile service trip across the Commonwealth each summer.

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