The YMCA Youth and Government program was established in 1936 in New York by Clement “Pete” Duran, then a director of the Albany YMCA. Duran coined the motto of the program: “Democracy must be learned by each generation.”
YMCA Texas Youth and Government (YG) is part of a nationwide, youth-led, civic engagement and academic enrichment program for high school and middle school students. YMCA Texas Youth and Government was organized in 1946. The judicial section of Youth and Government began in Texas in 1960. Since then, other program sections have been added including lobbyists, middle school legislature, media, and Model United Nations. Thousands of teens have participated in the program and have grown up to be responsible citizens and future leaders of our nation.
In 2000, the American Bar Association became a supporter of Youth and Government, creating a policy requesting that lawyers become involved in the program and stressing the importance of engaging and educating students about the United States legal process. About this issue, Sandra Day O’Connor and Roy Romer said in 2006:
“Most young people today simply do not have an adequate understanding of how our government and political system work, and they are thus not well prepared to participate as citizens.”
As of 2012, the Youth and Government program operated in 37 states and the District of Columbia, serving 47,000 high school students around the country.