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The Valley of The Sun YMCA is excited to share an opportunity for you to get involved with our Youth and Government™ program during the upcoming fall semester. Youth and 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 and 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.

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. 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 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






August 31, 2022 6:00pm – 7:30pm Arizona Delegation Meeting Zoom
September 28, 2022 6:00pm – 7:30pm Arizona Delegation Meeting Zoom
October 26, 2022 6:00pm – 7:30pm Arizona Delegation Meeting Zoom
November 5, 2022 1:00pm – 6:00pm Pre-Leg Conference Zoom
November 17, 2022 6:00pm – 7:30pm Arizona Delegation Meeting Zoom
December 2-4, 2022 Friday 8:00am – Sunday 5:00pm Conference AZ Capitol & Hotel

Community Based Delegations






Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA Phoenix Jordon Little (480)759-6762 Tuesday
Catalina Tucson Maryann Oda maryannoda
Chandler / Gilbert Family YMCA Chandler Jillian Turner (480)899-9622 Tuesday
Desert Foothills Family YMCA Scottsdale Kelly Forkasdi (480)596-9622 Thursday
Legacy Foundation Chris-Town YMCA Phoenix Sara Ruffalo (602)242-7717 Wednesday
Lincoln Family Downtown YMCA Phoenix Tarus Moore (602)257-5138 Wednesday
Northwest Valley Family YMCA El Mirage Amber Johanning (602)688-5335 Thursday
Prescott Family YMCA Prescott Marsha Holloway (928)445-7221 Thursday
Scottsdale / P.V. Family YMCA Scottsdale Patrick Cody (480)951-9622 Thursday
Southwest Valley Family YMCA Goodyear Nyara Seymore (623)935-5193 Tuesday
Tempe Family YMCA Tempe Christopher Lynde (480)730-0240 Tuesday
Tucson Northwest YMCA Tucson Jessica Romo (520)229-9001 Tuesday
Watts Family Maryvale YMCA Phoenix Natalia Hariri (623)873-9622 Wednesday
Yuma Family YMCA Yuma Jenesha Robert (928)317-0522 Monday

School Based Delegations

Contact your school for more information about meeting dates and times.





Arizona Charter Academy Surprise Alondra Salazar (623)974-4959
Bella Vista College Prep Scottsdale Alicia Roberts (480)575-6001
Biltmore Preparatory Academy Phoenix Shea Delano (602)381-6160
Brophy College Preparatory Phoenix Pete Burr & Freddy Soto (602)264-5291
Chandler High School Chandler Michael Franklin (480)812-7700
Desert Edge High School Goodyear Sean Greenwell (623)932-7500
Chief Hill Learning Academy Chandler Violet Nelson (480)812-7150
Desert Meadows School Laveen Todd Morgan (602)304-2020
El Capitan School Colorado City Jennifer McKay (435)900-8001
Glenn L. Downs Social Sciences Academy Phoenix Eric Alvarez (623)691-4200
Isaac Middle School Phoenix Joe Saputo (602)455-6800
Lowell Elementary School Phoenix Patrick Cody (602)257-3902
Mountain View High School Mesa Steven Miner (480)472-6900
North Pointe Prep Phoenix Nickki Barnes (623)209-0017
Patterson Elementary Mesa Bonnie Hickman (480)472-9700
Ridgeline Academy Phoenix Melanie Pennell (623)223-1335

Launches January 2023

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!

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




Dear Delegates,

Thank you for visiting our website! As 2022 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 75th year of Youth and Government™!

As we continue to evolve our program to meet health and safety standards, the 75th 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.

Please enroll for our 2022 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™