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The Road to the Capitol: Our Youth & Government Program

California YMCA Youth & Government’s Model Legislature & Court (MLC) program was established over 65 years ago and continues to be the state’s premier youth leadership and civic engagement program. The MLC creates a six-month learn-by-doing experience that teaches the values of democracy by bringing together a cross-section of high school students from across the state of California. The program begins in September when our students meet as individual delegations to discuss issues facing California.

Delegate Experience

  • Write Mock California Legislature
  • Playout State Government Positions 
  • Attend 3 Statewide Conferences 
  • Run for Various Elected Offices 



The program reaches its peak in Sacramento at the State Capitol with the convening of the five day Model Legislature and Court each February. There, "real" government moves over and the teen delegates "take over," using the historic halls, chambers, and offices of our State Capitol, Supreme Court, and Governor's Office.

“We are optimists because we believe in change and that doesn’t make us naïve, that makes us powerful. The time we spend together was our platform. The changes we’ve embraced is our movement. It is up to each one of us to be the bigger person, so that together we can become a better people.” - Lena Gravenas, 67th Youth Governor, 2015


Through the course of one program year, you can see the tremendous growth in a Youth and Government teen’s self-worth, confidence, public speaking skills and their social skills. The San Francisco YMCA delegation is helping youth to discover their value and vital role they can play in our community.

"Through Youth & Government, we strongly encourage these youth to address the issues that matter to them in their own communities.” – Jenna Godinz, Embarcadero YMCA Lead Advisor