Legislative Chambers

Members of the Iowa Youth Congress gain first hand experience with how public policy is created and implemented in our state.

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Iowa Youth Congress

The Iowa Youth Congress (IYC) was created in 2006 by the Department of Human Rights (DHR) in response to the underrepresentation of minority members in Iowa’s Legislature.  The IYC provides youth of all backgrounds the opportunity to gain hands-on education in the subject areas of state government, democracy, advocacy, and civic engagement.

There will be a few changes to the IYC program in the 2017-2018 term which will enhance student participation and encourage advocacy in areas beyond legislation. The IYC will continue to retain components of the original program which relate to legislative development and advocacy, however will operate under a broader Iowa Department of Human Right’s youth initiative; the Youth Empowerment Program (YEP). YEP focuses on teaching youth the multitude of ways in which they can advocate both in their respective communities, and at the state-level, for issues they are passionate about. Under the purview of YEP, the IYC program will provide a broader advocacy focus (beyond legislation development) by teaching and encouraging students to participate in civic engagement and service learning  projects in their respective communities.

The Iowa Youth Empowerment Program’s (YEP) Iowa Youth Congress (IYC) seeks up to 100 underrepresented Iowa high school youth (e.g. minority youth, youth in poverty, and youth with special needs) ages 15-18, to participate in a year-long program which provides students the knowledge, abilities, and direction to advocate and enact change in their communities and at the state-level for issues affecting youth. This year’s IYC will hold quarterly regional meetings throughout the year, will engage students in a one-day Mock Congress event, and will host a Day on the Hill event. During the Mock Congress event, the youth members present and vote on legislative issues believed to positively impact youth. The positions are then turned into bills to be presented to Iowa’s legislature during the final IYC event of the year, the Day on the Hill event. During this time students are encouraged to lobby for their bill supported by IYC. Lobbying allows students to talk with their local representatives about the bills they sponsor in an attempt to have their proposals introduced as legislation.

Through the IYC experience students attain a variety of skills including public speaking, problem solving, and political debate in multicultural leadership settings. The students also report that IYC participation improves their interest in the legislative process and helps to provide a more hands-on learning experience in the proposal, debate, and passing of bills.

The Iowa Youth Congress (IYC) is a diverse and dynamic group of student representatives and we are always looking for students with new perspectives. Any Iowa high school student can apply to be part of IYC. There is no cost to participate and the program will provide reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities.

Applications submitted by May 1, 2017 receive priority consideration. All applications due June 12, 2017.

To apply, click IYC 2017-2018 Application

To email: download and email to brianne.potts@iowa.gov

To Fax: print and fax to 515-242-6119

To mail: print and mail to:

Iowa Youth Congress
Iowa Department of Human Rights
Lucas State Office Building, 2nd Floor
Des Moines, IA 50319

We look forward to reviewing your application to take part in the 2017-2018 Iowa Youth Congress.  Please contact our office if you have any questions--(515) 725-2836.