For 50 years, the United States Senate Youth Program has stood as a living monument to political bipartisanship and visionary leadership among the 100 members of the Senate who have annually endorsed this program, which is designed to nurture a passion for excellence and public service among a selected group of the brightest young students in the nation.
The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), funded entirely by the Hearst Foundations, will hold the 50th annual Washington Week program March 3 – 10, 2012.
Other confirmed speakers for the 50th anniversary week include:
• The Chief Justice of the U.S. John Roberts;
• Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta;
• Senator Jeff Bingaman;
• Senator Susan Collins (USSYP Alumnus);
• Congressman Cory Gardner (USSYP Alumnus);
• NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr.;
• Judge Robert Henry, Former Chief Judge, 10th Circuit Court of Appeals (USSYP Alumnus);
• Brian Lamb, CEO C-SPAN.
The USSYP was originally envisioned by William Randolph Hearst’s sons, George R. Hearst and Randolph A. Hearst, who worked closely to develop the idea with the visionary and bipartisan Senate Leadership of the day—Senator Tom Kuchel of California, Senator Mike Mansfield of Montana, Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois and Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota. Today, 50 years later, William R. Hearst III, nephew of George and Randolph and grandson of Hearst Corporation founder, William Randolph Hearst, is president of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.
The result: The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 “to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships 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.”
Since then, the program every year has brought 104 of the most outstanding high school students—two 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 the people who lead it.
Congressman Cory Gardner of Colorado, a delegate to the program in 1993, commented,“The delegates who are here for the 50th year of the United States Senate Youth Program are all of the same mindset: ‘How do we improve our country? How to we work together to better our lives and better future generations’ opportunities?’”
“The entire time I was in Washington for the United State Senate Youth Program really changed my life,” reflected Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a delegate in 1971. “It changed the way I thought of myself, it changed what I learned about government and it changed my perception of what women could do.”
“This is the 50th anniversary of the program and I have been personally involved in it for more than 30 years,” said Frank A. Bennack, Jr., CEO of Hearst Corporation and chairman of the Foundations’ Gift Committee. “And those of us at Hearst feel that the program is a very natural extension of our founder, in that he was brilliantly pro-American and passionate about young people and talent and wanted public service as a part of people’s lives.”
More than 5,000 alumni of the program have gone on to successful careers, many of which are directed toward public service. The distinguished alumni include:
• Senator Susan Collins, the first delegate to be elected U.S. Senator;
• New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the first delegate to be elected governor;
• Congressman Cory Gardner, the first delegate 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;
• Former Presidential Advisors Thomas "Mack" McLarty and Karl Rove.
USSYP alumni also include David LeRoy, former Lt. Governor of Idaho; Robert Shapiro, former President of the Progressive Policy Institute; military officers, members of state legislatures, Foreign Service officers, top congressional staff, healthcare providers and university educators.
The highly competitive and merit based selection process for the USSYP is managed by each state’s department of education with the chief state school officer ultimately responsible for the selection of delegates and alternates. The two students selected to serve as delegates to Washington Week each also receive a $5,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to continue coursework in history and political science.
Each year the vice president of the United States and the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders serve as honorary co-chairs of the program; two senators, one from each party, serve as acting co-chairs and an eight-member bipartisan Senate panel completes the annual Senate Advisory Committee.
In addition, 17 military officers from all service branches are competitively selected to serve as mentors to the student delegates throughout the week, representing one of the longest standing partnerships between a national youth program and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
During Washington Week the students are scheduled to attend briefings and meetings with several senators, the president of the United States, a member of the Supreme Court, Cabinet secretaries, and an ambassador to the United States, other federal agency leaders and senior members of the national media. Each speaking event includes a question and answer session allowing the students direct and personal interaction with the high-level leadership. This in-depth exposure is precisely what fuels and sustains the students’ commitment to making a difference in their country, communities and schools.
The Hearst Foundations (hearst.com) have fully funded and administered the United States Senate Youth Program since its inception in 1962, including transportation, accommodations, meals and individual undergraduate college scholarships for each student. As stipulated in S. Res. 324, no government funds are utilized.
For more information on the USSYP, please visit ussenateyouth.org.