Presidential Youth Council: Policy Proposal

February 8, 2012

More than a year ago a group of remarkable young people came together to advocate for a new addition to government: youth leadership. Their proposal was to create a Presidential Youth Council that would advise the President and every federal department in the Cabinet. Now, the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council has officially launched and is gaining traction with the support of more than 100 leading youth-focused organizations.

This is their current policy proposal.

What  |  Why  |  Objective  |  Who  |  Structure  |  Creation


The Presidential Youth Council, composed of young Americans ages 16 to 24, will advise the President and Congress on the perspectives of young people, the design and implementation of federal youth policies, and allow young people to provide consensus solutions on the most pressing issues facing the future of our country.


For the United States to be successful in the future, we need to ensure the next generation is actively helping shape the direction of our country. According to the Harvard Institute of Politics, only 20 percent of young people (18 to 29) think the country is headed in the right direction, and only 29 percent of young people (18 to 29) believe they have a say in what the government does.

Additionally, in the coming decade the President and Congress will face a number of major issues such as education reform, the deficit, immigration reform, environmental legislation, and entitlement reform. Young people have a lot at stake in these issues and need the opportunity to have their voices heard.

Existing federal outreach and engagement efforts unintentionally inhibit youth participation, leading to under-representation of the nation’s 104 million young people in the policy-making process. To counter this, numerous state and local governments, Members of Congress, corporations, and national nonprofit organizations have created youth councils to make sure youth voices are incorporated into their organizations. They use the input they receive from these councils to improve services and plan for the future.


The mission of the Presidential Youth Council will fulfill three goals:

  1. Collect and share with the President and Congress issues relevant to the 104 million Americans under the age of 24 through listening sessions across the country.
  2. Provide recommendations on the design and implementation of federal policies affecting young people. This will make the federal government more efficient and effective by incorporating young people’s innovative solutions and unique perspective.
  3. Develop quality solutions on the most pressing issues facing the future of our country by creating a forum in which young people of differing viewpoints can find common ground. Solutions will require two thirds of all members to vote in the affirmative to promote compromise.


Members of the Presidential Youth Council will be between 16 and 24 years of age and reflect the geographic, racial, and socioeconomic diversity of America. They will be able to solicit the views and perspectives of their peers, and constructively contribute to policy deliberations. Members will be nominated by any local, state, congressional, or non-governmental youth council, however each young council in consultation with their sponsoring official or organization may only nominate one young person to serve on the Presidential Youth Council. 

The 16 to 24 age range ensures that young people have the ability to participate constructively in the Presidential Youth Council and aligns with the participant guidelines for federally funded programs like YouthBuild and Job Corps. This age range will capture the perspectives of disconnected youth as well as those of young people serving in our military, without competing with the White House Fellows Program, which targets an older, more experienced demographic.

The Council will be comprised of 24 members who are appointed by the leadership of both parties. The President and the majority and minority leadership in both the House and the Senate will each appoint four members to the Presidential Youth Council. The congressional leadership of the party that does not control the Presidency will each have two additional appointments. The non-partisan board of directors of the Corporation for National and Community Service will appoint two co-chairs from the selected group as well as an executive director.


Presidential Youth Council members will serve 12-month terms. Each term will begin with two weeks spent in Washington, D.C. where council members will participate in training sessions to improve their communication, outreach, and policy skills. During this time the Council will hold its first official meeting and decide the topic areas for the issues it will focus on over the course of the year. Council members will return to Washington at least four times during their term to continue their policy work, deliberations, and to write their recommendations.

While at home, Presidential Youth Council members will work with their supporting organization and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) State Directors to hold regional outreach events and listening sessions.

Monthly conference calls will provide ongoing support and development opportunities for each member of the Presidential Youth Council, as well as the ability to coordinate the council’s policy and engagement efforts.

Each Council member will conclude their term with two weeks in Washington D.C. where they will finish their policy work and train and mentor the incoming Presidential Youth Council members, contributing to a successful annual transition of youth leadership.

All expenses related to the Presidential Youth Council will be covered and each member will receive a stipend, pursuant to federal government regulations. This will ensure that the program is open to all young Americans, regardless of their financial resources. In addition, each young person will have or will be assigned an affiliated organization or school sponsor and will be connected with their CNCS state director, who will provide additional administrative training and logistical support to the Youth Council member.


The Presidential Youth Council will be created as an official Federal Advisory Council by either Congress or the President and hosted at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). CNCS is uniquely set up to support the Youth Council with a bi-partisan board of directors and the ability to seek and receive private funds. To eliminate federal government costs, private funds will be used at the discretion of CNCS to support the program.

The Presidential Youth Council is estimated to cost one million dollars per year to operate, including both staff and travel expenses. This cost will be covered by ten corporations making $100,000 per year commitments to support the program. In an ideal situation, this commitment would be for five years to ensure the council has the financial support to last into the next administration.

Get involved with the Presidential Youth Council >>