YMCA Launches Youth & Government Program

The YMCA of Rock River Valley has been selected as one of 11 grant recipients to help shape the next generation of thoughtful, committed and active citizens by expanding the Y’s Youth and Government® program. The grant is made possible by the $1.9 million multi-year national partnership between YMCA of the USA and MissionSquare Foundation to support expansion of the Youth and Government program in 10 states and the District of Columbia, including the Rock River Valley region. 

Since 1936, YMCA Youth and Government has offered students across the country the opportunity to serve their schools, communities, states and nation through model government, civic engagement, advocacy, leadership and character development, service-learning and more to amplify youth voices and strengthen youth civic health.

“We are thrilled to launch the Youth and Government program here in the Rock River Valley and are grateful to MissionSquare Foundation’s support in helping us develop the next generation of civic-minded leaders,” said Kamrin Muhammad, Executive Director of College and Career Readiness, YMCA of Rock River Valley. “The Y believes that young people have the power to change the world, and we are excited to see the positive impact that this program makes in our community.”

MissionSquare Foundation, launched in 2022, is focused on strengthening communities by supporting the long-term wellbeing of youth. A core component of the Foundation’s efforts includes cultivating civic-mindedness, critical thinking and leadership skills in future leaders.

“MissionSquare Foundation is delighted to extend congratulations to the YMCA of Rock River Valley as our grant recipient," says Deanna J. Santana, the Acting Chief Executive Officer and President of MissionSquare Retirement. "We are committed to serving those who tirelessly contribute to our communities, so this grant seamlessly aligns with our mission. Our commitment to fostering civic education for the youth of our nation signifies our dedication to fortifying our country and strengthening our democracy. We stand proud in our partnership with Y-USA, providing the younger generation with the necessary resources, tools, and knowledge to tackle the complex issues confronting governments and communities.”

Engaging the next generation in civic programming gives youth a voice in helping to solve community challenges, ensures that our local communities can thrive and serves as a critical step towards a long-term solution for improving our civil discourse.
Locally, 7 teens are involved in our delegation. The group meets weekly and follows the Y-USA Youth & Government program calendar. Some of the highlights include learning how a bill gets passed, meeting local and state elected officials, and a trip to the State Capitol in Springfield in March 2024. Additionally, one of our Y&G delegates has been selected to participate in the Y-USA National Advocacy Days in Washington DC in February 2024. 

Through this partnership, MissionSquare Foundation helps close the youth civic engagement gap by connecting students to opportunities that strengthen the civic health of communities. This support increases student access to the YMCA Youth and Government program in communities nationwide. Funding will enable programs to expand into schools and communities that don't currently have one, and help programs reach previously unengaged students. In this first year of the partnership, MissionSquare Foundation will provide funding to the following locations:

California: YMCA of Greater Long Beach
Colorado: YMCA of Pueblo
District of Columbia: YMCA of Metropolitan Washington
Florida: YMCA of the Treasure Coast
Illinois: YMCA of Rock River Valley
Maryland: YMCA of Frederick County
Missouri: Gateway Region YMCA
North Carolina: YMCA of Northwest North Carolina
Oregon: YMCA of Grants Pass Oregon
Virginia: Bedford Family YMCA, Piedmont Family YMCA and YMCA at Virginia Tech Washington: South Sound YMCA

Students interested in learning more or getting involved in YMCA Youth & Government can email Kamrin Muhammad at kmuhammad@rockriverymca.org or visit rockriverymca.org/teenleadership