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Youth Leadership Initiative

During the 1998 mid-term Congressional elections, national voter turnout was the lowest it had been since 1942. The Center for Politics, founded in part as a reaction to the pervasive apathy and cynicism surrounding politics, recognized an opportunity to combat this lack of interest or engagement by people in their own government by educating primary and secondary students in their rights and responsibilities as citizens of the United States.

The Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) was established in 1999 as a pilot program with 14 schools in the state of Virginia. It now provides public and private schools in all 50 states and around the world with a comprehensive program of technology-based civics education resources. The academic materials combine lesson plans with civic participation projects so that students can experience directly what it means to live in a representative democracy.

The main components of the YLI program include:

Citizenship Curriculum

Teachers and educators with years of classroom experience developed the YLI citizenship curriculum, which offers dozens of lesson plans tailored to the individual academic standards of each state.

Online Mock Election

Each fall, students vote for real candidates using cyber-ballots that replicate each participating school's voting precinct. Teachers prepare their students with classes on political ideology, campaigns, and voting history in the virtual YLI Classroom, and final election results, broken down by area, are posted on the YLI website.

E-Congress Legislative Policy-Making Exercise

Students simulate the role of a representative in the US Congress by researching and drafting original legislation, debating its merit in legislative committees and casting a final vote, along with thousands of others, online at the YLI website.

If you are a parent, teacher, student, elected official, or citizen, find out how you can implement YLI in your local schools by contacting us directly (434)243-3538, toll free 1-866-514-8389 or