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United States Senate Youth Program

The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is a unique educational experience for outstanding high school students and an opportunity for motivated student leaders to have direct contact with the highest-level elected and appointed officials in the nation. The USSYP mission is to encourage the best and brightest students in America’s high schools to pursue careers in public service.

Each year, two student leaders from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) interact with leaders in Washington, D.C., experiencing their national government in action. The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) 62nd Annual Washington Week will be held March 2–9, 2024.

In addition, students selected to attend will each receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship, and be able to interact with key players in Washington D.C. during their experience at Washington Week. Students may qualify to apply through leadership positions they currently hold per the USSYP official criteria for the current academic year. All student leadership qualifying positions are subject to the judgment of the state selection administrator and will be verified and confirmed. See below for eligibility requirements.

Congratulations to Nebraska’s former Recipients!

2023 Delegates

  • Jaden Speed, Nehawka Conestoga JR/Sr High School
  • Kristie Trinh, Lincoln High School

Above: Senator Deb Fischer with 2023 Delegates Kristie Trinh and Jayden Speed

2022 Delegates

  • Ellie Janda Blue Hill Blue Hill High School
  • Zein Saleh Lincoln Lincoln North Star High School

Above: Senator Pete Ricketts with 2023 Delegates Jayden Speed and Kristie Trinh.


In 1962, the United States Senate voted unanimously to endorse a nationwide youth program that would bring high school students to Washington, D.C. for a brief introduction to the functions of the federal government — particularly the Senate.

The program was created and authorized by Senate Resolution 234 and has been reauthorized ever since. The original resolution specified that the program be “supported by private funds with no expense to the federal government”. As a result, the Hearst Foundations assumed financial support of the program and continues its sponsorship today. The Foundation states that “it is in the public interest to encourage these outstanding young people to continue their educational development.”


The USSYP brings the highest-level officials from each branch of government to meet with this outstanding group of young leaders—two high school juniors or seniors from each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA)— for an intensive week-long education and leadership program to be held in Washington, D.C.. The program is merit-based and highly competitive. Each student will also receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to pursue coursework in history and political science. Now in its 62nd year, the program has been fully funded since inception by THE HEARST FOUNDATIONS as an enduring commitment to preparing young people for civic leadership in our participatory democracy.

Numbering more than 6,100, USSYP alumni serve the country in many ways. They have become leaders in government, law, business, education, journalism, the military, medicine, health care, higher education and many other fields. Alumni serve as elected and appointed officials at all levels of government, including a current United States senator, a current cabinet secretary, many congressional staff members, a former governor, former senior political advisors to the president of the United States, former ambassadors and former federal judges. The commonality to all of their success is the desire to serve.

The Program


Delegates will hear major policy addresses by senators, cabinet members, officials of the Departments of State and Defense, leaders of other federal agencies and senior members of the national media. Delegates also traditionally participate in a meeting with a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and the president of the United States. Most speaking events include in-depth question and answer sessions.

The Hearst Foundations will pay all expenses for Washington Week including transportation, hotel and meals. The Department of Defense (DoD) annually provides a team of competitively selected men and women officers from all four branches of the military to serve as mentors and chaperones for the student delegates, and a registered nurse, licensed physician and professional security team are in place at all times throughout an in-person week.

National Brochure and Press Release

2024 USSYP National Program Brochure
2023 USSYP National Press Release


Please refer to the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) National program eligibility requirements for complete details. Keep in mind that public service is the core mission of this program.

To apply for the U.S. Senate Youth Program in Nebraska, a student must meet a minimum of the following criteria:

  1. Be a junior or senior in their 11th or 12th grade year of high school
  2. Currently be enrolled in a Nebraska public, private, charter school, or home school association
  3. Be a legal permanent resident, citizen, or holder of a valid Green Card of the United States at the time of application (no exceptions)
  4. Have at least one parent or guardian who is a legal resident of Nebraska
  5. Be currently serving in an elected or appointed leadership position in any one of the following during the entire academic school year:
    • Student Body President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer
    • Class President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer
    • Student Council Representative
    • National Honor Society Officer (this may include a discipline-based Honor Society that incorporates service components, e.g., the National English Honor Society, Social Studies Honor Society, etc.)
    • Student representative elected or 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 administration (NOTE: School clubs are not considered civic organizations.)
    • JROTC Officer or Commander

Participation or holding an officer position in academic clubs, educational competition programs/conferences, or organizations designed primarily for the student’s personal development do not qualify a student for the USSYP. The positions listed below DO NOT qualify the student for the program:

  • A participant, captain or officer in Mock Trial, Debate Team, Model UN, or other academic club, conference or competition where the primary engagement is for individual educational enrichment.
  • Member of the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Team Sports or JROTC members
  • A founder or chairperson of a self-created group


  • Any high school junior or senior enrolled in a public, charter, private, or homeschool association school may apply on his/her own initiative.
  • Students must be able to show demonstrated leadership by serving in elected or appointed positions in which they are actively representing a constituency in organizations related to student government, education, public affairs and community service.
  • Students applying for the U.S. Senate Youth Program opportunity should be participating in and able to show a history, prior to the year of application submission, of leadership, public service, and government or civic related activities. The organization a student uses to qualify as meeting eligibility requirements must have a service component.
  • Students must be a current citizen of the United States or hold a current Green Card and must be able to provide documentation regarding their status for background checks.

Code of Conduct

Delegates will be the guests of the United States Senate and The Hearst Foundations throughout the program, whether in person or online, and are required to conduct themselves with civility, dignity and professionalism. Debate and discussion are actively encouraged in an environment of tolerance, respect and inclusion. Students selected to the program are serving as at-large public representatives of their states, communities and schools, and attend the program to learn from the speakers and from one another. Students are prohibited from engaging in lobbying, petitioning, protest or overt political activism during Washington Week. Cyber bullying will not be tolerated.

2022-2023 Application and Timeline


Selection Timeline

  • October 13: Nebraska Application due
  • October 23-November 3 Interviews will be conducted among finalists
  • November 6-10 Exams (if necessary) and Principal/teacher interviews of finalists
  • December 4: Nebraska Delegates and Alternates announced.

Nebraska Delegate Reflection Essays

Past Washington Week Yearbooks


Bre Wilton;

Social Studies Education Specialist, Nebraska Department of Education

USSYP Program Director for State of Nebraska

Updated August 17, 2023 8:05am