United States Senate Youth Program

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Group of students talking to each other.

United States Senate Youth Program

The United States Senate Youth Program is a yearly scholarship program that is supported and funded by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. The United States Senate also endorses this program. To take part in the program, two students in their junior or senior year of high school are chosen to represent each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity.

In order to participate in the Senate Youth Program, both juniors and seniors in high school need to receive a nomination from their respective high school principals or other recognized school officials. Students who wish to be considered for nominations are required to be actively involved in elected or appointed leadership roles that pertain to government, public affairs, education, or community service.

What is the United States Senate Youth Program?

What is the United States Senate Youth Program? The USSYP was founded in 1962 after the United States Senate Resolution 324 was proposed. At the time, Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-MT), Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-IL), and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) were the primary sponsors of the resolution.

The impetus for the creation of the program intended for high school students was to “increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, the caliber, and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and the vital importance of democratic decision making not only for America but for people all over the world.”

Young man smiling while on a hallway.

The Hearst Foundations, which are run by William Randolph Hearst’s sons George R. Hearst and Randolph A. Hearst, have made a commitment to assisting with the program’s finance and administration for as long as the Senate continues to sponsor it. On May 17, 1962, the Senate voted to approve S. Res. 324, and ever since then, it has maintained its sponsorship of the USSYP through the Senate Rules Committee by means of an annual unanimous vote.

Outstanding high school students who are interested in pursuing careers in public service have the opportunity to participate in a one-of-a-kind educational program called the Senate Youth Program. During the month of March of each year, 104 of the most exceptional high school students come together to participate in this incredibly competitive merit-based program.

Each year, more than 75 senators take part in the program by serving on the annual Advisory Committee, going to the USSYP Annual Senate Reception (at which all student delegates get the chance to meet their senators), and taking part in more extensive keynote speaking engagements that take place throughout Washington Week. These activities take place throughout the course of the program.

Among the many distinguished alumni are Senator Susan Collins, who was the first alumnus to be elected to the United States Senate and is currently serving in her fifth term; Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, who was the first alumnus to be elected to a cabinet secretary; Jaime Harrison, who serves as the current Chairman of the Democratic National Committee; former Senator Cory Gardner, who was the second alumnus to be elected to the United States Senate and the first to be elected to the United States House of Representatives.

Also includes former Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the first alumnus to be elected governor; former Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt, and former presidential advisors Thomas “Mack” McLarty and Karl Rove.

Additional notable alumni include Rogan Kersh, the Provost of Wake Forest University; David LeRoy, a former lieutenant Governor of Idaho; Robert Shapiro, a former president of the Progressive Policy Institute; and a large number of members of the armed forces, members of state legislatures, Foreign Service officers, top congressional staff, healthcare providers, and university educators.

What is the Mission of the United States Senate Youth Program?

What is the mission of the United States Senate Youth Program? Students from across the country are chosen to participate in the United States Senate Youth Program on an annual basis. The program’s objective is to provide these students with the opportunity to gain a comprehensive understanding of the United States Senate and the federal government as a whole, as well as a better comprehension of the interrelationship between the legislative, judicial, and executive branches.

Those who are considering a future of public service on a local, state, or national level will benefit from the program in terms of both the knowledge it imparts and the encouragement it offers.

A week will be spent in Washington, DC, with two student leaders representing each state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity. During this time, the students will observe the workings of their national government.

a group of friends studying outside

Student delegates will participate in meetings with the president and a justice of the United States Supreme Court, as well as hear major policy addresses from senators, cabinet members, officials from the Departments of State and Defense, and directors of other federal agencies. Additionally, student delegates will hear major policy addresses from cabinet members.

In addition, each of the 104 student delegates will receive a stipend for undergraduate study in the amount of $10,000 to be used at the college or institution of their choice, and they will be encouraged to continue their studies in government and history. Since the program’s beginning, the Hearst Foundation has provided complete funding for the USSYP. This funding covers everything, from travel and lodging to meals and individual college scholarships; the government never contributes to the program.

What is Washington Week?

What is Washington Week? The purpose of Washington Week is to provide student delegates with a deeper understanding of the federal government and to offer them direct access to those who lead it. Washington Week is an intensive week filled with educational events that are unmatched in their scope.

The legislative, executive, and judicial departments of government are all going to be represented on this week’s jam-packed calendar of events. Meetings will take place with the Senate Co-Chairs, other Senate leaders, as well as the Senate parliamentarian and historian; a justice of the Supreme Court; officials from the Departments of State and Defense, as well as other executive agencies; senior members of the media; and a foreign ambassador to the United States.

The fundamental problems of the day are reflected in the schedule for Washington Week, and the question and answer session is exhaustive at each event.

The USSYP Annual Senate Reception is a highlight of the week. At this event, all student delegates will have the opportunity, in a format that will be virtual in 2022, to meet and speak with their senators from the United States Senate.

It is precisely this in-depth exposure to national and international leaders who voluntarily volunteer their time that feeds and sustains the delegates’ dedication to making a difference in their schools, their communities, and their country.

The United States Senate Youth Program has a longstanding partnership with the Department of Defense, which the Department of Defense maintains by providing a “purple team” of 17 of the most exceptional military officers from each service branch to serve as mentors during Washington Week. These officers were chosen through a competitive selection process.

The mentors assist the students in transitioning smoothly from one high-level venue to the next and guide the students in the appropriate etiquette and behavior required throughout the week.

Who is Eligible for the Program?

Who is eligible for the program? Each prospective student must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, and they must be presently enrolled as juniors or seniors at a high school that is either public or private. The applicant’s parents or guardians must be legally residing in the same state as the school in order for them to be able to enroll there.

Group of students talking in a classroom.

Every applicant has to be currently enrolled in either their 11th or 12th year. The student who submits the application must currently hold an elected position in any one of the following student governments, civic or educational groups, and must maintain that elected position during the entire academic year. As a result, they are required to take an active part in student leadership by holding positions “in which they are actively representing a constituency in organizations related to student government, education, public affairs, and community service.” These positions can either be elected or appointed.

  • Student body: President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer
  • Class President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer
  • Student Council: Representative
  • District, regional, or state-level civic or educational organizations: Representative.
  • School clubs (e.g., Chess Clubs) are not considered civic or educational organizations.

A student is ineligible if they are enrolled in a school that is located in a state that is different from the state in which their parents or legal guardians have their primary residence.

The criteria for selection will include both academic success and leadership abilities that have been displayed over the current school year. Community service will also be considered.

According to the official criteria for the current academic year that are being used by USSYP, students may be eligible to apply if they are currently serving in leadership positions. The state selection administrators are responsible for providing their opinions and conducting background checks on candidates for all student leadership posts.

This basically indicates that only juniors and seniors in high school who are currently serving in qualified leadership roles and who are residents of the state to which they are applying will be considered. To summarize everything, any student who applies for the scholarship needs to fulfill all of the following requirements:

1. U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident (proof required)
2. Be presently enrolled in an accredited high school program at either a public or a private institution (students attending home schools are required to be members of a State-based home school association or the Education Alliance group)
3. Have at least one of their parents or legal guardians living in the state of Nevada.
4. You must currently hold an elected or selected position in one of the following student governments, civic organizations, or educational organizations to be eligible for this scholarship:

  • Student body president, vice president, secretary, or treasurer
  • Class president, vice president, secretary, or treasurer
  • Student council representative: student representative elected or appointed (appointed by a panel, commission, or board) to a district, regional, or state-level civic and/or educational organization approved by the state selection administrator
  • Home school students must be elected or selected officer or student representatives to a district, regional, or state-level civic and/or educational organization home school students must be an elected or selected officer or student representative

How to Apply for the United States Senate Youth Program?

How to apply for the United States Senate Youth Program? Students must submit their applications through their respective states rather than directly to the USSYP. There is no standardized application process because each state processes applications in its own unique manner.

Because of this, it is essential that you check the requirements that are particular to the state in which you reside. Utilizing the State Contacts and Deadlines webpage will allow you to acquire information regarding the unique criteria that are imposed by your state. You need to also be able to obtain information from your school counselor as well as the principal of your high school.

Group of students looking at a laptop in a table.

Let’s look at a few different applications so that you can get an idea of what the application process might look like. Along with one essay question, the application for those who live in Arizona consists of four questions that require short answers (no more than 150 words each) and focus on the applicant’s leadership abilities and accomplishments (500 words or less).

Students are given a choice between five different essay questions, each of which demands either a political or historical analysis to be written about.

However, the application seeks only demographic information from Illinois residents, in addition to a typed narrative that is no longer than two pages that describes your experiences in leadership and the ways in which participating in this program would benefit both you and your community.

Additionally, the deadlines for applications change from state to state. These start as early as the first of August and go as late as the first of November. The majority fall sometime in the month of October.

Washington Week of the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is scheduled to take place between March 4 and 11, 2023. The initiative will pick two students from each state to participate, and each participant will get a grant worth $10,000 to go toward their undergraduate education.

Students who meet the statutory criteria for the USSYP program for the academic year 2022-2023 may be eligible to apply if they are currently serving in a leadership role in their school or community. Every student leadership qualifying position will be investigated by the state selection administrator, who will make a determination about whether or not the candidate meets the requirements.

What other information do you need to know about the United States Senate Youth Program?

What other information do you need to know about the United States Senate Youth Program? In the event that you are thinking about applying to the USSYP, there are a few additional pieces of critical information that you need to be aware of.

First, some students put potential applications through a screening process in order to select those with the highest level of competence. Since this is something that is required by many states but not all of them, you should probably get ready for it ahead of time. The purpose of the Annual Public Affairs Exam is to evaluate your awareness of public issues and the most recent developments in political affairs.

Students working on a school work while sitting.

This test consists of true or false, multiple choice, and essay questions. The United States Senate Youth Program advises that all students, in order to be adequately prepared for the examination, should “study the Constitution, review general knowledge about American history, the U.S. government and political processes, and know the current elected and appointed official in each branch of government as well as key historical figures who have served in each branch.”

You should also be informed that in the event that you are chosen to represent your state at the USSYP, the only way for you to win the college scholarship that is associated with that honor is if you actually participate in the program.

Alternate delegates are selected for each available seat in the program; if you are unable to participate, you will be required to give up both your seat and your scholarship in order to make room for someone else.

Although participation in the United States Senate Youth Program is a prestigious accomplishment that looks great on a college application, the program is about much more than that. It enables participants to gain first-hand experience in our national government and gives them a look behind the scenes at how life is lived in Washington, DC.

This information can be of incalculable use to a student who is thinking about pursuing a career in public policy or in the government, and the $10,000 college scholarship can be precisely the tool you need to get there.

If you need help putting the finishing touches on your college applications,  at AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college. Contact us today for more information on our services.

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