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California YMCA Youth & Government

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Youth Development - Citizenship

Mission: California YMCA Youth & Government seeks to inspire young people to become committed leaders and to provide them with the tools they will need to become leaders of change. We strive to develop critical thinking and public speaking skills that allow our participants to articulate and act upon their beliefs by providing them with a platform for service learning, social responsibility, and personal development.

Results: For the past 70 years, California YMCA Youth & Government has served over 100,000 youth from across the state.

Target demographics: teens develop leadership skills, character values and learn how to impact change in their communities.

Direct beneficiaries per year: over 4,500 high school and middle school aged students

Geographic areas served: Sacramento

Programs: The Model Legislature & Court, The Model United Nations

Community Stories

19 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Bridget J.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program has truly changed my life! Youth and Government not only allows kids an outlet for their political insights, but also presents a once in a lifetime opportunity for our youth to connect with other incredible people across the entire state. This program has helped me to develop in to a more self-aware and confident young adult and has enabled me to forge lasting friendships with people all across California, and for that I am forever indebted to Y and G.

Christy18

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Y&G for 9 years as a volunteer advisor and as volunteer sgtaff. Never have I ever been involved with a more well run, organized program for teens. I have seen teens go from shy and quiet to outgoing and confident. This program truly changes the lives of not only the kids, but of the adults involved as well.

Damian K.

Client Served

Rating: 5

An amazing program that has certainly changed my life. No other program I've ever heard of is as extensive, friendly and educational all at the same time. Y&G is filled with amazing people who I believe will be the future leaders of our country.

Andrew55

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hands down the best program I have ever participated in. There is no other way to truly immerse yourself in such a vibrant, educational political simulation.

Elijah S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The best high school program for anything ever. Y&G has made me a better leader, introduced me to wonderful people, and has given me the tools to be successful in life.

Roy_3

Client Served

Rating: 5

In every young person's life, great opportunities come and go. But it is rare to come by an opportunity that will guarantee a life changing experience. A life changing experience is defined, personally, as an experience that far exceeds expectations and has the ability to impact the persons life in the greatest way possible. I was really skeptical when i first joined the program because i didn't know what to expect; however, once i attended my first conference, i immediately fell in love. This program empowered me to become the person that i've always wanted to become. It has given me the essential skills that will allow me to go farther in life. It has given me the ability to have confidence when speaking publicly, the ability to speak my own mind regarding controversial topics, and most importantly the ability to gain life-long relationships. No other experience will give an individual those type of gifts, and i'm grateful to be a part of this organization. Im truly indebted to California's Youth & Government (Model Legislature and Court)

1 Jordan23

Client Served

Rating: 5

Youth and Government is almost impossible to describe in just a few short paragraphs. Youth and Government is really all about the hands-on and experiential nature of government, not really summarizing the wonders we benefit from. But, I am willing to try my best, seeing as Youth and Government has had the biggest impact on me of anything I've ever done... ever.

I think the place to start is where California education is lacking. To be honest, California public high schools, while held to high standards, lack vitality. I'm sure student after student can tell you about the monotone teachers they have and the number of lectures they listen to per week. Every high school student is just waiting to break away from the repetitive, boring nature of high school. Some participate in their school's clubs, government, sports, but every student tries to find SOMETHING to pass their time while trapped inside high school.
I've found this monotony can sometimes spark students to find what they love.
Teens are dying to get involved and become active in their communities, they just don't have the resources or motivation to do it all alone.
Youth and Government serves as the liaison between the students and their communities.

Y&G takes something seemingly boring, and instead creates a world of opportunities to find yourself, your passions and what you stand for. I guarantee uninformed teens will tell you they don't care about their government and truly, that is depressing. But, really, it's not the government they don't care about. They have been trained to anti-establishment behavior is what teens like.

In reality, we should be informed voters, who care about the democratic process we use. We should care enough to inform ourselves. Youth and Government teaches high schools to care, to find what they care about, and fight for it.

When I started Youth and Government as a freshmen, I did not care about our country's foreign affair policies or really, anything. I joined Y&G just to meet people, and I definitely fulfilled that goal, to say the least.
As soon as I joined the Y&G community, I realized how passionate I really was. I spoke on a bill against teacher tenure, an issue close to my heart, and realized how much I do care about the world around me. I applied to be a committee chair and was granted with the opportunity to lead a group of 40 people in a committee session. I applied for the Conference on National Affairs and was accepted! I traveled to North Carolina to represent the state of California.
I became the determined, passionate person I am through my hands-on experiences in Y&G.
I really found my voice in Youth and Government.

I found myself volunteering in my community, standing up for the students at my school and becoming very involved in what I care about.

I joined the Associated Student Body at my school and the Yearbook and became a major part of both. Recently I was elected ASB President, and last year I served as Editor-in-Chief of the Yearbook.
I finally broke out of my shell and became the prospering young adult I hoped to become. I started to really find my niche in politics. And, I plan to study political science in college, all based on my experience in Youth and Government.

Youth and Government really isn't just an organization. It's a close-knit, welcoming community that creates positive change in its surroundings. It's such a warm environment to come into, and it is filled with smart teens who want to change the world.
It's truly remarkable how many people become motivated and dedicated in such a short period of time.
In all honesty, I think Youth and Government is the only program that can create such outstanding results.

I recommend this program for all teens out there, government junkie or not, you will fall in love with Youth and Government. The program is large enough for everyone to find their niche and feel at home.

This is such a life-changing program, I can't wait to put my own children through it.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program has helped me open my eyes to what is happening to California and what we can do to help California. It has helped me grow as a better person,leader,and speaker. I feel as if once a week I have an awesome family I can depend on and we can speak and debate as we please. This is an awesome experience to work with kids your age and powerful adults too! Before I was a meek and shy freshman but Youth and Government made me want to be more and help the world to be better even though I'm still quiet I will stand up and speak for the causes I believe in. I owe them a big thank you. You see we are teens that want to be leaders and help California be the best it can.

Kim_93

Advisor

Rating: 5

Youth & Government is an amazing program that allows teens to realize their voice matters. Not only do these students learn intricacies of the state government, they learn to network, grab hold of their inherent leadership abilities and they learn most importantly that they matter. It is an amazing experience to watch these teens trust themselves but also respect themselves and each other.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Y&G has really helped me to grow as a person. I started out as a very shy, introverted middle school-er, and within weeks of starting the program, I was more outspoken, had made tons more friends, and had more confidence in all settings- in Y&G, in school, and just talking to people my age. Throughout the past three years in Y&G, I've made countless new friends, and I keep in constant contact with all of them. I really would not be the person I am today were it not for this amazing program.

1 Zachary R.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Youth and Government has changed my life for the better. In just a few short months, I went from being an uninformed, shy teenage girl to a teenage girl who had a purpose. I sat in the first few delegation meetings I attended so timid. I barely spoke at these meetings because I lacked the confidence to speak or even be myself. Sometimes I sat there feeling so out of place. Somedays I wanted to leave, but I knew in the back of my mind that I belonged.
I didn’t realize until we sat in our Friendship Service on the final night of the Model Legislature and Court in 2012, how much this program meant to me and how much I really did belong. I had never felt that sense of belonging before. Having a place where I felt like I was important, needed and most of all listened to did so much for me as an individual. Every since confidence I once lacked started to grow inside of me. A year and six months after we said goodnight at our friendship service, I am a completely different person.
All I’ve ever wanted, as an awkward high schooler with not even an ounce of confidence, was to be listened to, respected and most of all have a voice. Y&G allows all of those three things to happen. Y&G has brought out the best in me and having the chance to show my new found assets will not only further me in Y&G but life in general.

CalYMCA does a phenomenal job in ensuring that both middle school and high school students are given the outlet to have their own opinions and thoughts without being ridiculed or harassed for them. Sharing your opinions, embracing weakness and pursuing your life with passion are things that are celebrated in Youth and Government.

No other non-profit I have worked with has given me so much in such a short amount of time. This is a truly phenomenal program that will never be replaced in my heart or the hearts of countless others.

Forrest G.

Client Served

Rating: 5

So often are high school students told or led to believe that a sense of spirit can only be fostered through competition. Yet this program proves that such conviviality stems from a sense of mutual passion. California YMCA Youth & Government (Y&G) has completely changed my life. Besides serving as a means for me to find my passion in politics, Y&G acted as the catalyst for my becoming a confident young adult. As a member of this program, I discovered that people are not always united by common opponents, but instead by a mutual goals and desire to make each other "better." Whether this means being a better speaker, a better debater, a better writer, or just a better person, Y&G annually unites thousands of young people under the simple goal of becoming "better."
I 100% attribute my enjoyment of high school, to Y&G. If it weren't for this program, I would not have the confidence to set my goals so high or the friends to tell me I can accomplish such aspirations. If it weren't for Y&G, I would not have had first-hand experience working in the state courthouse, senate and assembly chambers, and even the governor's office. If it weren't for Y&G, I would not be the person I am today.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am entering into my fourth year of affiliation with the California YMCA Youth and Government Program. Throughout my years of involvement, I have participated as a delegate, statewide officer, state representative at national conventions, and, most recently, Youth Representative to the Board of Directors. With such involvement, I have been able to personally witness almost every aspect of the program, and subsequently, the profound and positive impact that this program has on every single person who has ever been associated with it. If asked to specify exactly what the "impact" of this program is in only one word, I would say involvement. This program teaches teenagers to be involved in the political and economic affairs of our nation and in the future we create for our posterity. It teaches us to be concerned with the political, economic, and societal issues and corruptions faced by our world. It teaches us to be passionate and outspoken in our beliefs. It teaches us to take action when nobody else will. It gives us the knowledge we need to desire change and the skills we need to advocate for that change. This program empowers the future leaders and heroes of our generation, and the future of our world will be better because of it.

Client Served

Rating: 5

California YMCA Youth & Government has changed my life for the better. The staff and the delegates are so welcoming and hard working. Nothing beats the experience that I have had with this program. I have gained so much from this program and have never regretted joining it. This program has taught me the value of handwork and dedication. These aren't just acquaintances, the people and this program become a family. I have changed in such a positive way and because of this program I still continue to grow everyday.

Jordan22

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It is one of the best experiences you will have in your life and it is super fun for all teens! The feeling of being in a room with 3,000 other people that is basically your family is amazing. This is one of the best choices that I have made in my life, to join youth and government!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It's family, it's opportunity, it's the experience of a lifetime. There's nothing but a spirit of hard work, energy, and community- everything it means to serve our state, nation, and world, something we all aspire to do in one way or another. I find my home away from home here, and I look forward to coming back in a few weeks. Y&G shapes the individual, has a place for everyone, and is truly an outlet for growth and community empowerment and civic leadership.

Ryan34

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program is home to some of the most welcoming people I've ever met, the delegates all have immense respect for each other and for the government and I'm proud to know them, the program itself is incredibly accurate according to how the government works and it really does bring people out of their shell. Two years ago I was afraid to speak and I knew nothing about politics, now neither of those are true, I love to speak and am interning in the office of a state senator!

Nicolas G.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is honestly one of the best things that I have done since I started Middle and High School. I can acredit this program with changing my life and allowing me to move out of my comfort zone. Before joining Y&G I was a pretty shy kid and I really did not know what I wanted to do with my life. Because of Youth and Government I am know passionate about government, I am able to do things that a few years ago I would not have even imagined and in the process made some of my best friends. There 5 star rating system should not apply to this program because it deserves 10,000,000,000 stars. I would recomend it to anyone and everyone

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program absolutely changed my life. It brought me out of my shell and ignited a passion within me. It taught me to be comfortable with public speaking and introduced me to some of my favorite people in the world. It gave me a sense of independence and purpose.