YG Video Shot 2

NEW: 3-Year Grant for New Schools
+ Community Partners


The Valley of The Sun YMCA is excited to share an opportunity for you to get involved with our Youth & Government program during the upcoming fall semester. Youth & Government (YAG) is a national program in 42 states that encourages civic engagement, civil discourse, and leadership. At the heart of the program is the belief that “democracy must be learned by each generation” and this hands-on program is a proven way to develop teens as tomorrow’s leaders.

The Arizona Youth & Government Program has provided outstanding experiential learning for over 70 years to youth from across the state. Youth & Government helps young people define the community action they wish to take, and teaches youth the legislative and judicial processes to facilitate social change. This semester-long program is hosted through several experiential virtual meetings. YAG leads students through topics such as parliamentary procedure, political parties, media, voting, bill writing and debate policy. The semester concludes with the Model Legislature & Court Conference held each year during the first weekend in December at the Arizona State Capitol. During this capstone experience delegates will debate their bills in the State House and Senate, run for office, write a daily newspaper and host State Supreme Court hearings. The Arizona Youth & Government Program is open to all Arizona students from 6th-12th grade.

Participants strengthen their communities by becoming active and responsible contributors who are inspired to lead, and are empowered to become agents of meaningful change in their communities. NOW IS THE TIME FOR EVERY ARIZONA STUDENT TO GET INVOLVED. If you are in grades 6-12 and are passionate about your community and want to get involved, hone your skills and gain a broader perspective on state, national, or international politics and policy, then Youth and Government is for you.

If you have further questions or would like to learn more about the program, we are available to connect anytime.

Participants are either elected into, or assume the roles of, governors, senators, representatives, lawyers, the press, or lobbyists. During this model, participants are trained in debate, parliamentary procedure, the legislative committee process, press relations, and lobbying techniques. Youth will then draft bills, discuss then in committees, and debate them on the floor of the legislature.

Delegates will learn by doing and have the opportunity to lead in an open and receptive learning environment.

Youth and Government is a program that gives youth a hands-on encounter with government. The program runs mid-September through December, coinciding with the academic calendar.

There are many notable leadership programs across the country; however, the YMCA Youth and Government program is distinctly different. Our program is designed no not only to provide a challenging academic experience but also to guide students in personal development. The program is framed around the four core values of caring, respect, honesty, and responsibility. These values create a culture that is both academically engaging and ensures that students leave our program with the understanding of the interpersonal skills that are necessary to succeed in their future endeavors.

The goals of the program include:

  • Understanding of formal and informal gov’t structures
  • Actively participating in the legislative, judicial, executive, and political processes
  • Enriching the formal education process with realistic learning experiences
  • Building awareness of societal issues and problems and their solutions
  • Developing confidence in and dedication to the democratic process
  • Learning participative leadership skills
  • Appreciation for differing points of view
  • Gaining communication and leadership skills
  • Learning accountability and respect for others’ rights
  • Applying moral and ethical valuing processes to public policymaking

Students will learn all these skills and more through the Youth and Government’s conferences. Facilitated by trained and qualified YMCA staff and volunteers, youth are given the opportunity to find their own voice, make new friends, and have fun!

If your school is looking to get involved please read and fill out our school scholarship package! For questions about starting a delegation at your school please reach out to Nick Fernandez at

NEW: 3-Year Grant for New Schools + Community Partners

Hello Parents!

Welcome to our Youth and Government Parents page! We are pleased to have you this year as a YAG Parent! The Valley of The Sun YMCA is excited to provide this experiential learning program for your youth. We seek to teach them the fundamentals of local and federal government while having fun. Students have a unique opportunity to express themselves in a safe and structured environment while practicing civil discourse. Please fill out the RSVP form with your student to be added to our email list, as the conference approaches we will send more correspondence to you regarding the conference. We appreciate your involvement and we are looking forward to getting to know your student.

The Valley of The Sun YMCA is a non-profit organization, we rely on donations from our community. If you are able to make a donation to help sponsor another delegate please reach out to Elise Nilles at . If you are a parent who is in need of financial assistance to help offset the costs of the program please fill out the form below and email it to Elise Nilles at we will work together to make the program work for your family, cost should not prohibit your child from participating.

Thank you for being an active and involved parent, we look forward to seeing your child succeed this year!


Valley of The Sun YMCA Youth and Government Team






September 15, 2021 6:00pm – 7:30pm Arizona Delegation Meeting Zoom
October 13, 2021 6:00pm – 7:30pm Arizona Delegation Meeting Zoom
November 6, 2021 10:00am – 2:00pm Pre-Leg Conference Zoom
November 17, 2021 6:00pm – 7:30pm Arizona Delegation Meeting Zoom
December 3-5, 2021 Friday 8:00am – Sunday 5:00pm Conference AZ Capitol & Hotel

Like us on Facebook!

Follow us on Instagram!

Follow us on TikTok!

State Director of Youth and Government: Elise Nilles

Director of Community Outreach: Nick Fernandez




Dear Delegates,

Thank you for visiting our website! As 2021 begins for many of you we are well underway with our plans for this year’s Model Legislature and Court Conference! To start off I would like to formally welcome you to the 74th year of Youth and Government!

As we continue to evolve our program to meet health and safety standards, the 74th year of Youth and Government will remain virtual in most aspects. The State office will be providing four statewide meetings starting in September running through December to keep all of our delegates informed and trained. Your local delegation may host additional meetings, I highly encourage you to reach out to your local advisor or the state office to obtain your delegations schedule. Your physical and mental health are important to us, we hope that we can virtually make you feel a part of a community but keeping in mind your physical health by avoiding large gatherings at this time.

Youth and Government seeks to create active and engaged citizens/youth. We believe that “democracy must be learned by each generation”, even though we are in unprecedented times our youth development team is actively preparing to make this mission happen. Our Nation needs youth like you to be the change we need to see in the world. With that being said; we will begin virtual “delegation meetings” in September, though this year will be different we are determined to make the best of it!

Our Statewide Delegation meetings will activities designed to prepare you for December’s Conference, and we are working to line up engaging guest speakers. At this time we are optimistic that our December conference will be in person. I am working with the capitol and YMCA leadership as we watch the COVID-19 trends. We will have a final decision about our conference by October and we will update you as soon as we know more. Please reach out to me if you have questions or concerns at

Please RSVP for our 2021 Youth and Government Conference! This is how we will send out information regarding the conference! Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

Elise Nilles
State Director Arizona Youth and Government

2021 Bill Submission

  • Copy and paste the section of the ARS here and create your bill (Bold & Caps Lock Additions / Strikethrough Removals)
  • Please write a brief purpose statement here 2-5 sentences
  • Max. file size: 1 MB.