Youth & Government

Mission: To help teenagers become responsible citizens and future leaders of our nation.

Goal: To create an environment in which students can increase their political awareness and understanding while learning the meaning of social action through an actual hands-on experience in government.


YMCA Youth and Government is a national YMCA program, active in approximately 40 states. The first Youth and Government program took place in 1936 in New York. The Texas Program began in 1946. Today, nearly 25,000 students annually take part in state Youth and Government conferences nationwide (including Model State Government and Model United Nations conferences), with 3,300 adult volunteers and YMCA staff serving as adult advisors. Many of these advisors were involved throughout their own high school careers and return as adults to help “give back” to a new generation of youth leaders.



YMCA Youth and Government nurtures innovation, fosters a sense of responsibility and builds leadership skills. Join the movement. Find your voice. Create positive change for yourself, your community, your world. Learn more


Youth and Government clubs begin in August and September of each academic year. Students work for 8 week to participate in Regional competitions usually held in November.  Students that qualify for State Competition would then participate in a spring competitions in Austin, Texas. High School State is offered in early March. Middle School State is offered in late January.

Volunteer on Saturday, November 5th at Akins High School

  • Full and half day shifts available
  • Trial Court, Appeals Court, Legislative, and Media sections available to volunteers
  • Akins High School
  • Trainings and guidance provided


Volunteer on Saturday, January 28th, Friday, March 3rd and/or Saturday, 4th

  • Full and half day shifts available
  • Trial Court, Appeals Court, and Legislative sections available to volunteers
  • Locations will include: Texas State Capitol, & Renaissance Hotel
  • Trainings and guidance provided


The purpose of Youth and Government (YG) is to prepare a selected group of young people for moral and political leadership in the American democratic process by providing guidance, training, and experience in the theory and practice of determining public policy on the state level. It is called “a laboratory in citizenship and government.”

Are you passionate about Texas and National Politics! Do you have new and creative ideas on how to solve the issues facing TEXAS?

In Legislative students create bills focused on topics important to them. Bills are debated, considered in committee and moved to house or senate for consideration.  Share your passion with other students from your school, city and across the state! Our student legislature considers bills from across the aisle and across all topics. In the Legislature students are given the opportunity to be involved in healthy debate with peers across all subsections of politics.

Examples of major topics that are covered under Texas law:

Public education, higher education (state colleges or universities), health and human services, workers’ compensation, public safety, business and economic development, civil practices, criminal justice, gambling, family issues, environment, intrastate transportation, state chartered financial institutions, state and local government organization, licensing of certain professionals, etc.

 Our goal for Legislative participants is acquisition of valuable experience writing, researching, and debating mock-legislation in a process that closely mirrors the process of our Texas Legislature. This experience increases awareness both of how our state government works and pertinent current events.


Are you always watching the news to see the latest from the courts? Do you wonder how that attorney was able to get their client the minimum sentence instead of life? Or are you simply a theatric who has been looking for a place to own the show? Then our judicial section is for you!


Each year students evaluate and debate high press cases from across the nation. Double murders, homicides and so much more! This section allows you to team up with a group of friends, to dominate as a duo or to own the gavel SOLO! Students can participate as Judges presiding over the court room and ultimate decision maker on who has the best case!

Teams can bring together drama addicts and straight debaters to make your team the one to beat!  2 attorneys lead the team through the trial, while the witness and bailiffs help carry the case and are the difference between not guilty and guilty!


Are you the dynamite duo? Well our Appellate section is the place for you. Show off your writing skills and ability to defend your stance and you and your teammate could reverse the decision on this case! The Judicial section will give you the knowledge of legal procedure, ability to communicate, questioning skills, reasoning ability, and knowledge of law, organization, critical thinking, preparation and teamwork.


Our goal for Judicial participants is for them to develop a clear and active understanding of the judicial process in both criminal courts and appeals courts. Participants are challenged to work as a team to develop solid arguments for all sides of a case and perform their roles faithfully to replicate real court proceedings as closely as possible.

Are you passionate about State, National and International Politics!?

In our State Affairs section students create proposals assessing topics in these areas!

Proposals are debated, considered in committee and moved to full contingency consideration. Share your passion with other students from your school, city and across the state! Our State Affairs section considers proposals from across the aisle and across all topics. In the State Affairs section students are given the opportunity to really develop healthy debate with peers across all subsections of politics.

Take this challenge on alone or tag team the debate with a friend or two! Get your graph and visual ready because in State Affairs we challenge you to really think through your stance and defend it!

Annually students select from a group of preselected topics.

Our goal for State Affairs Forum participants is for them to understand well-formulated solutions (not legislation) for major problems facing Texas and the national/international community, furthering their holistic understanding of news events and empowering them to speak intelligently about feasible ways to address such problems.


NEWSROOM! Here we come! 

Everything media you can image, newspaper, broadcast, podcast, blogs and online social media! YG is about teens and covered by teens! Bring your talents and your skills to ensure in-depth coverage of our conferences and events! You could be the star of our news cast at night or the head of our newspaper! Are you a format guru, be our print editor?  Can only you see the world perfectly through a lens? Helps us see how you see YG and become our head photographer! 

News can make or break politicians! Stretch your influence muscles and show our youth leaders that even in YG somebody is always watching and always listening!

Get ready to expose how much media influences the political process. 

The newspaper, various social media posts, and broadcast are entirely the work of the student participants from story assignments to production to distribution. Our goal for Media participants is for them to fully understand and practice the relationship of media with the government. Students learn to meet deadlines, gain valuable skills like headline writing and interviewing, understand layout and graphic design tools used by media personnel, and the important role media plays as the 4th Estate.

Our Governor’s Cabinet section works directly with our Youth Governor. The Youth Governor sets a legislative agenda for the State Conference. He or she then works with the Cabinet to lobby in the Legislative chambers for his or her agenda, which is comprised of specific bills or issues he or she would like to see debated and acted upon. The Lobbyists make reasoned arguments against the Youth Governor’s agenda.

Our goal for the Governor’s Cabinet and Lobbyists section is for participants to engage professionally with one another in discussing legislation about which the Youth Governor is passionate and to persuade Legislative delegates to feel similarly or differently. Participants will be able to attempt to accomplish their own goals respectfully while assisting our Youth Governor. They will also develop debate and technical skills related to lobbying or working in the state government.

Governor’s Cabinet and Lobbyist members must have at least one year of Legislative experience. The application to participate in this section opens after the last District Conference (mid-November) and closes in mid-December for YG students and in mid-January for JYG students. Students should review the criteria below before applying.

Each program cycle, Texas Youth and Government students elect ten high school officers and three middle school officers to provide youth leadership. The YMCA requires all candidates running for these positions to adhere to the Y core values: caring, respect, responsibility, and honesty.

District Conference: Saturday, November 5, 2022  8am-5pm at Akins High School

Junior YG State Conference: January 27 - 29, 2023

State Conference: March 2 - 5, 2023 -  Past Schedule at a Glance


Fall 2022 Program Fees  

Club Participation Fee for State Office: $30 (Fee is standard for both Members and non-members)       

·         Updated Curriculum and Outlines for program annually

·         Program Materials for students & adult advisors

·         Student Training

·         YMCA Advisor Support 

·         Advisor Training

Austin District Conference: $70

·         All completion materials and support

Youth and Government State Conference: $355 - $495 (Depending on Room Type)

·        State Conference Fee

·        Digital Support & Resources for Competition

·        Student Gift

Membership For All

YMCA of Austin is committed to ensuring that any student that wants to participate is not inhibited by the cost of the program. Financial Assistance applications are available for Austin area students to apply for aid. Students attending from Waco, Corpus Christi, Round Rock and San Antonio should contact their local YMCAs for information on local assistance programs.

Deadline to apply for Financial Assistance is October 11, 2022

Aplicacion de Asistencia Economica

Financial Assistance Application

Key dates FALL 2022 - SPRING 2023

August/September Clubs Kick-Off

October 20: Submissions Due

November 5:  District Conferences Austin

January 27 - 29:  Junior YG State Conference

March 2 - 5: High School State Conference 



For more information about how to start a Youth and Government club at your school, please contact:

Matt Wilson at 512-973-9622 or

Youth and Government clubs begin in August and September of each academic year. Students work for 8 weeks to participate in the District Conference, usually held in November. Students who qualify for the State Conference will then participate in a spring competition in Austin, Texas. Middle School State is offered in late January.High School State is offered in early March.