The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is a unique and annual educational experience for outstanding high school students interested in pursuing careers in public service. Typically, two student leaders from each state will spend a week in Washington experiencing their national government in action. Student delegates will hear major policy addresses by Senators, cabinet members, officials from the Departments of State and Defense and directors of other federal agencies, as well as participate in a meeting with a Justice of the US Supreme Court. All transportation, hotel and meal expenses will be provided by The Hearst Foundations. In addition, each delegate is also awarded a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate studies, with encouragement to pursue coursework in history and political science.
District of Columbia public, public charter and private high school juniors and seniors who possess a strong interest in government, public service and history are encouraged to apply for the USSYP. Students may qualify to apply through leadership positions they currently hold per the USSYP official criteria for the current 2021-22 academic year ONLY.
All student leadership positions are subject to the judgment and verification of the state selection administrators.
Examples of qualifying leadership positions are below:
- Student Body president, vice president, secretary or treasurer
- Class president, vice president, secretary or treasurer
- Student Council representative
- A National Honor Society officer (including discipline-based Honor Societies such as the National English and Social Studies Honor Societies that include service components)
- Student representative elected or appointed (appointed by a panel, commission or board) to a local, district, regional or state-level civic, service and/or educational organization approved by the state selection administrator
Students must submit:
- An application (online via Microsoft Forms)
- Official student transcript
- A student essay answering one of the following questions:
- Define political activism for yourself personally. How do rules/laws/morals and values affect your own political activism? How do you judge whether your activism has been successful or not?
- Which social media sources do you use to gather information about American politics? Do you believe those social media websites – when viewed together as a group -- offer an accurate portrayal of American politics? Why or why not?
- Do you ever create political conversations on topics you do not see others discussing? If so, can you provide some recent examples. If not, why not? Do you believe your messages would be informative or persuasive?
- Can you identify some specific human rights problems and/or issues affecting your local school or community? Are there any local or state organizations equipped to address those problems? If so, which ones? If not, why not?
- Describe a turning point event in US history before 1950 and offer your thoughts on the impact of that event on today’s political climate.
- NOTE: The essay must not exceed four pages, double spaced in Times New Roman 12 font, excluding the reference page. References must be cited. Students applying for a second time may not use an essay submitted previously.
- A student statement of leadership activities on a separate sheet of paper that describe activities and interests which demonstrate the student’s leadership qualities and activities at school and/or in the community. Note: Please emphasize activities that demonstrate the student’s interest in the political process of governance should be emphasized.
- The essay must not exceed one page, double spaced in Times New Roman 12 font.
- Resume (Extra Curricula Activities)
- A letter of recommendation from the high school principal and/or counselor.
Please be sure to follow the instructions, and to ask questions if necessary. All deadlines and instructions must be strictly followed.
The application process is as follows:
- Students will submit their application electronically. The deadline to submit is Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.
- The application will ask for the name and email address of the principal and/or counselor who sign off on the student’s participation in Washington Week. The student will also be able to express a preference for the principal/counselor to submit the transcript and letter of recommendation online or by mail. If the student is under 18, a parent/guardian/responsible adult must send an email to Janae Eason at [email protected], acknowledging and corroborating this choice. No follow-up with principals or counselors will occur without this corroborating email.
- Within three business days, the student will receive a link to an online folder where the student will be able to submit their essay, statement of leadership, and resume. Please do not share this link with anyone. The folders are secure but will be available to anyone with the link.
- If students elect to allow their principal/counselor to submit the transcript and letter of recommendation online, they will be sent a link to another secure folder in which to deposit these materials. If the student has opted to have these materials mailed in, they must be sent to the address below. Submission of these materials constitutes permission for the student to attend the Washington Week in March 2022. All materials must be received, whether electronically or by mail, by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.
- Applicants must keep up with the submission of materials.
All applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.
If transcripts and letters of recommendation are being mailed, please send to:
Office of the State Superintendent of Education
Division of Postsecondary and Career Education
1050 First St., NE Fifth Floor
Washington, DC 20002
- If any of the above is missing from the final application packet, the application will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.
- There is not a limit on how many students apply from each DC public, charter and private high school.
- Mailed submissions must have adequate postage.
- In the event that an applicant becomes a semifinalist, the student must be able to participate in an interview on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Interviews will be virtual and sign-ups are on a first come, first served basis. If the applicant is not able to make this date due to extenuating circumstances, they must communicate this to Janae Eason ([email protected]) as soon as possible, and all interviews must be conducted before the close of business on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021.
- Applications will be received until 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. All applications received are considered final. Please only submit one application per student.
- Semifinalists will be contacted by Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021 to schedule their interview.
- Interviews will take place on Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021.
- OSSE will notify the USSYP Program of the selection of two delegates and two alternates by Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021.
- The USSYP Program and the Hearst Foundations will announce the two delegates and two alternates from each state in December. Upon receiving confirmation of the DC selections, OSSE will also notify all applicants of their status via email.
- The two delegates from the District of Columbia will attend Washington Week during the week, of March 5-12, 2022. Please visit the program website for more information about Washington Week, program rules, and scholarship rules.
For more information or questions, please contact Janae Eason, state selection coordinator, at [email protected].