Model Legislature & Court

California YMCA Youth & Government offers the Model Legislature & Court (MLC) program for 9th-12th grade students.

California YMCA Youth & Government’s Model Legislature & Court (MLC) has been the state’s premier youth leadership and civic development program since 1948. The MLC creates a six-month learn-by-doing experience that teaches the values of democracy by bringing together a cross-section of the state’s high school students. This program provides them with the opportunity to experience government first-hand and to learn how to solve community problems through the democratic process as well as debate and discuss issues with their peers from throughout California. Click here to see a summary of the program areas delegates can participate in.

Students participate in the program through local YMCA delegations (click here to see which YMCA’s are in your area). Delegations are encouraged to have weekly meetings starting around the first week of school, and must have an adult advisor who meets the volunteer criteria of the local YMCA that the delegation is affiliated with, as well as any regulations set forth by the state office.

As a delegation, youth create bills about pertinent issues, research and practice court cases, develop public speaking and networking skills, and attend three annual Model Legislature & Court conferences.

Each conference brings together diverse students from across the state to experience the governmental process first-hand through a unique “youth-run, youth-led” model. The first two training and election conferences are held in mid-November and mid-January in Fresno. These events prepare youth for their roles at the formal Model Legislature & Court conference held over five days in mid-February at the State Capitol in Sacramento.

Once in Sacramento, the bills developed by delegations during the fall are debated in committees, then on the floor of the Assembly and/or Senate and, if passed, sent on to the Youth Governor. In addition, depending on the size of each delegation, other students participate in the additional program areas offered including: The Supreme, Appellate and Trial Courts, Broadcast and Print Media, Lobbyists, Board of Education, The State Constitutional Convention, Political Parties, and The National Issues Commission, along with many more.

New program areas are considered and developed regularly as the MLC strives to serve a variety of interests and to include all aspects of the state government offering youth an active understanding of the legislative, judicial and executive branches, along with many affiliated and auxiliary areas.

How do I get involved?
To get involved, email with your zip code to find out which YMCA’s in your area offer our programs.