National Program Opportunities

YMCA Conference on National Affairs

The Conference on National Affairs (CONA) is a national debate conference for 700+ high school students across the United States. CONA is held at the iconic YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Students are selected by their home state to write and debate proposed solutions to national and international problems. It takes place at the end of June and beginning of July each year.

Up to 25 students are selected at spring conference to represent Michigan. It is important that each delegate knows what it means to be a Michigan delegate to the YMCA Youth Conference on National Affairs. If selected, you will be expected to attend delegation meetings between the time of your selection and departure for the pre-trip and North Carolina.

If you are interested in being apart of the CONA delegation please ask your advisor to nominate you on their spring conference awards nomination form. Delegates will be observed during the Spring Conference, and the delegation will be announced at the award ceremony.

For more information, visit our CONA portion of the website!

YMCA Changemakers Program

High school students propose a YMCA Changemakers Project that addresses a critical issue or need in their communities. The issue/need you select is entirely up to you, but should be directly connected to your local community - it can have national/global importance, but must have a specific local context.

Each Changemakers Project must be led by two (2) student Project Leaders. Additional students from your community are encouraged to support the project as needed, but only two students can apply as leaders.

Forty (40) project teams of two (2) students each will be selected to attend the YMCA Changemakers Summit in Washington, D.C. in June. All travel and conference expenses for the two Project Leaders from the selected project, along with a YMCA Staff chaperone from your community/state, are fully covered.

At the conference, the two Project Leaders from each state will present their proposal, and all attendees will help select three (3) winning teams to receive $5,000 each in funding to implement their project.

Interested students must complete two steps to submit their Changemakers Project for consideration:

Step 1: Project Leader Application

Each of your 2 (two) Project Leaders must submit this application individually. Your project will not be considered without submission of this application by both of your leaders

Step 2: Project Proposal

After completing Step 1 individually, both Project Leaders should then work together to jointly submit their Project Proposal. Project Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of content knowledge, community need, innovation, impact, and a feasible action plan.

Applications and more information can be found on the YMCA YAG website! The 2024 deadline is March 17th.

YMCA National Judicial Competition

Since 2012, the YMCA National Judicial Competition (NJC) strives to develop Youth and Government teens into competent, active, civic-minded citizens through a hands-on Mock Trial and Appellate Moot Court program. NJC takes place in Minnesota at the end of July and beginning of August each year.

This is accomplished through the following objectives:

  • Encourages collaboration by presenting case arguments as a team, and respectfully debating opposing teams from other states
  • Increases confidence in presentation and reasoning skills as well as knowledge of the judicial system in the United States.
  • Cultivates long-term engagement and support of YMCA and Youth & Government programs

If you are interested in taking a team to compete in NJC please contact For more information, visit our NJC portion of the website!

YMCA Youth Advocates Program

Sponsored by YMCA of the USA, this four-month program brings up to 2 high school students per state to YMCA National Advocacy Days in Washington, D.C. to meet with their Members of Congress and advocate for policy solutions that help Ys address critical issues in our areas of impact: youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.

  • As a part of the Youth Advocate Program, participants will:
  • Participate in virtual trainings and network with peers around the country
  • Better understand the Y’s history, mission, impact, advocacy, and legislative priorities
  • Collaborate with their local Y and YMCA State Alliance to craft an advocacy plan
  • Learn how to work with local, state, and federal officials to advance policy solutions
  • Meet with Congressional Offices to share their Y stories and advocate for Y priorities
  • Strengthen the civic health of their schools, communities, and Ys
Applications for the Youth Advocate Program open at the start of each school year. This year, approximately 50 high school students (up to 2 students per state) will be selected to serve as Youth Advocates. More information can be found on the YMCA YAG website! 2024-2025 applications will open in September 2024.

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