2018 U.S. Senate Youth Program Scholarship

AUGUST 1, 2017, WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is pleased to announce that the state departments of education nationwide have begun their annual selection processes. 104 student delegates will be chosen to meet their U.S. senators in the nation’s capital March 3 —10, 2018 for the program’s 56th annual Washington Week. 

The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 as stated in supporting Senate testimony from that year, “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationship 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 around the world.”  

Each year, this extremely competitive merit-based program brings 104 of America’s brightest high school juniors and seniors from every state, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity, to Washington, D.C. for an intensive week-long study of the federal government and its leaders. The state departments of education throughout the country select the students through a rigorous nomination and selection process. Each of the 104 student delegates will also receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship, with encouragement to continue coursework in history, government and public affairs.  The Hearst Foundations have fully funded and administered the program since inception; as stipulated in S. Res. 324, no government funds are utilized.

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina will serve as the 2018 USSYP Republican Co-Chair and Senator Angus King of Maine will serve as the 2018 USSYP Independent Co-Chair who caucuses with the Democrats. The vice president of the United States and the Senate majority and minority leaders annually serve as the program’s Honorary Co-Chairs; two senators, one from each party, serve as acting Co-Chairs and an eight-member bipartisan Senate panel completes the Advisory Committee. The seventeen military officers who serve as elite chaperones and mentors to the student delegates throughout the week are also competitively selected through the Office of the Secretary of Defense, representing one of the longest standing partnerships between a national youth program and the Department of Defense.

In addition to outstanding leadership abilities and a strong commitment to volunteer work, the student delegates generally rank academically in the top one percent of their states among high school juniors and seniors.  Alumni of the program continue to excel and develop impressive qualities that are often directed toward public service. Among the many distinguished alumni are: Senator Susan Collins, the first delegate to be elected U.S. senator; Senator Cory Gardner, the second alumnus to be elected U.S. senator and the first to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives; former Chief Judge Robert Henry, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; former Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt, and former presidential advisors Thomas "Mack" McLarty and Karl Rove.  Additional notables include former Lt. Governor of Idaho David Leroy, former President of the Progressive Policy Institute Robert Shapiro, military officers, members of state legislatures, Foreign Service officers, top congressional staff, healthcare providers and university educators.

The student delegates will visit Capitol Hill, the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Supreme Court and many other historic sites in Washington. The program agenda routinely includes meetings with senators, the president, Cabinet secretaries, a justice of the Supreme Court, senior members of the national media and other key policymakers.  Each speaking event incorporates lengthy and detailed question and answer sessions that are closed to the media. This high-level exposure is precisely what fuels and sustains the delegates’ commitment to making a difference in their country, communities, and schools.         

The delegate selection is administered by each state’s chief school officer in cooperation with high school principals. Delegates must be juniors or seniors and elected or appointed student officers for the 2017-2018 academic year, and they must reside in the state where they attend school.  Eligibility considerations may also be made for student representatives elected or selected (by a panel, commission or board) to district, regional or state-level civic or educational organizations where the delegate is serving a constituency in a high-level leadership position for the entire 2017-2018 academic year.

Names of students selected will be formally announced mid-December.  Interested students should contact their high school principal, school counselor, history or government teachers or the selection administrator for their state.  Application deadlines vary by state, and specific information can be located on the state-by-state menu.

The 2018 program brochure with detailed rules, selection process and the annual yearbook may be accessed on the USSYP website www.ussenateyouth.org.

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