United States Senate Youth Program
The New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) is pleased to announce its participation in the 62nd Annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) sponsored by the Hearst Foundations and the United States Senate. The USSYP, established in 1962 by U.S. Senate Resolution, is a unique educational experience for outstanding high school students interested in pursuing careers in public service. Principals of public or nonpublic schools in New Jersey may nominate one outstanding junior or senior to be considered for this highly competitive, merit-based program.
The 62nd annual United States Senate Youth Program Washington Week is being planned to be held in person in Washington, D.C. March 2 – 9, 2024. Two student leaders from each state, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity will spend a week in Washington experiencing their national government in action. Students must be actively serving in high-level elected or appointed leadership positions, in which they are actively representing a constituency, to qualify to apply.
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 usually participate in meetings with the president and a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. All transportation, hotel and meal expenses will be provided by The Hearst Foundations. In addition, each delegate will also be awarded a $10,000 college scholarship for undergraduate studies, with encouragement to pursue coursework in history and political science.
The United States Senate Youth Program is designed for students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership abilities in their school and community. Only students who are truly interested in government, history, politics, and leadership should apply. Students interested in applying must demonstrate high academic achievement, strong written and oral communication skills, as well as a commitment to public service through participation in community service and civic engagement initiatives.
Two New Jersey students will be selected as delegates by an esteemed panel to represent the State of New Jersey at the week-long Washington Week program and receive a one-time undergraduate college $10,000 scholarship.
Video: Tips and Tricks for Students on the Application Process
Video: Advice for Administrators from a Former Delegate
Student candidates must:
- Meet the eligibility requirements.
- Be the school's sole nominee and obtain the principal's signature on the Statement of Assurance.
- Submit the completed and signed Principal’s Statement of Assurance by uploading the document to the USSYP Principal’s Statement of Assurance Submission Form by September 29th, 2023. Once reviewed, nominees will receive the USSYP Student Application link via email no later than October 3, 2023.
- Complete the USSYP Student Application by October 10, 2023. Students are encouraged to prepare the following elements in advance of receiving and beginning the online application. All elements must be submitted at the same time and there is no save option.
- Official or unofficial Transcript and School Profile.
- Two-page student essay (double spaced, Times New Roman size 12 font with half inch margins) describing:
- Leadership experiences in a student government, civic or educational organization(s);
- Involvement in community, civic engagement and/or public service activities;
- Ways in which your passions, motivation and/or creativity contributes to your school or community;
- Interest in and desire to learn more about United States’ government, history and political processes.
- One-page resume (Times New Roman size 12 font with half inch margins) demonstrating academic and leadership experience, service, accomplishments and interests. Successful resumes should be formatted for clarity and readability. Students are encouraged to research examples of how to format a professional resume. Be sure to include the following:
- Awards and recognitions;
- Activities and clubs, including length of involvement;
- Volunteer/work experiences, including length of involvement;
- Special skills and talents;
- Brief descriptions of leadership roles and accomplishments.
- Press paragraph that describes student's other leadership positions (not position used to qualify for USSYP), academic honors, community service, school and extracurricular activities, and future plans for college and career. Paragraph should use third person and be no longer than 600 characters (may be used for media purposes).
- Two recommendation letters. Recommendation letters should be from an adult, not related to the applicant, that has direct knowledge of their leadership experience and community service activities. At least one recommendation letter must be from the school advisor to the club or organization that qualified the applicant to apply, for example student council advisor. The second recommendation should be from a school or district administrator, teacher, supervisor from volunteer/community service organization, or other adult who has worked with the applicant in a leadership capacity.
- Letters should be on letterhead with recommender’s name, title, and signature. Information about student's specific abilities, qualities and accomplishments as well as evidence of leadership and motivation should be included in the recommendation letter. Recommendation letters may be emailed directly to USSYP@doe.nj.gov, if the recommender prefers.
- Applications must be received by 11:59pm on October 10, 2023.
- If any of the components or information is missing from the final application, the application will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed.
- If a high school submits more than one nomination, neither nomination will be considered.
- Time constraints will not allow for return of applications for correction or completion.
The candidate must be:
- A legal permanent resident or citizen of the United States at the time of application.
- A resident of New Jersey throughout the 2023-2024 academic year.
- Currently enrolled in the 11th or 12th grade in a public or nonpublic high school in New Jersey through Spring 2024.
- Currently serving (throughout the entire 2023-2024 academic year) in an elected or appointed capacity in a student government, civic or educational organization, such as:
- Student body president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer;
- Class president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer;
- Student council representative, or;
- Student representative to an elected or appointed district, regional, or state-level civic or educational organization (e.g., elected officer of National Honor Society, Key Club, Interact, appointed student representative to Board of Education).
- Able to attend the entire 2024 Washington Week, March 2 – 9, 2024.
- Willing to sign a Code of Conduct to participate in Washington Week.
(Please note that students selected as delegates to the program in past years are not eligible to participate in this year's program.)
Criteria for Selection
The Hearst Foundations seek candidates that show:
- Outstanding leadership ability;
- High scholastic standing;
- Effective communication skills;
- Interest in America's political processes; and
- Strong commitment to community involvement, civic engagement and public service.
What is the United States Senate Youth Program?
The United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) brings the highest-level officials from each branch of government together with an outstanding group of high school students — two high school juniors or seniors from each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) — during an intensive week-long educational program called Washington Week. Each student also receives a one-time $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship with encouragement to pursue coursework in history and political science. The William Randolph Hearst Foundations provides the funding for this program. The New Jersey Department of Education is responsible for selecting two juniors or seniors based on the criteria established by the Hearst Foundations.
How do I apply to be a USSYP delegate?
Students cannot apply directly for the USSYP. Every principal of a public/non-public high school in New Jersey is invited to nominate one junior or senior by completing the Principal's Statement of Assurance. Nominated students must be a high school junior or senior serving in an elected or selected capacity in a student government, civic, or educational organization* during Washington Week. Nominated students must meet the eligibility requirements and complete the USSYP Student Application link by the due date.
*Please see the national United States Senate Youth Program website for information regarding eligibility requirements.
If a district has more than one high school, can one student from each high school be nominated?
Yes. The principal of every public/non-public high school may nominate one junior or senior to complete the application to become one of New Jersey's two representatives.
If more than one application comes from the same school, then both applications will be disqualified.
If I am nominated by my school principal and submit an application as a junior but am not named a delegate, can I apply when I am a senior?
Yes. A person may be selected to be their school's nominee if the individual is a senior and was not selected to be a delegate the previous year.
How will I know if I am selected to be a USSYP delegate or alternate?
The students who are selected to be New Jersey's delegates and alternates to the USSYP will be notified via email by January. All other students will receive an email at the same time advising them that they were not selected.
What should I do if I have additional questions?
If you have any questions regarding the USSYP, please contact Ashley Woolsey-Greene by e-mail at USSYP@doe.nj.gov.
- Serena Lee, a Montclair High School senior, is President of the Student Council. She is Co-President and founder of the Montclair Menstrual Club, serves on the Montclair Civil Rights Commission, and Montclair Public Schools’ District Equity Team as a student representative. Lee is also Media/Communications Co-Chair for AAPI Montclair and Vice-Chairperson on the Montclair Public Library’s Teen Advisory Board. She's Captain of the Montclair Robotics Team and President of the Asian Student Union. Through her work above, and beyond, Lee is a seasoned organizer and volunteer. In college, Lee hopes to study organizational behavior, international relations, Asian American studies, and management.
- Anjali Krishnamurti is a senior who wants to pursue a career in policymaking. She founded Vote16NJ, which takes action to expand the vote to 16-year-olds in local elections. Anjali has led the text-banking program as an intern for Governor Murphy’s 2021 campaign and is President of her school’s Youth & Government and Mock Trial clubs. She was elected to attend Girls Nation, representing NJ as a mock senator in Washington, D.C. When she is not participating in politics, Anjali runs a non-profit called Metamorphic Mentoring, which provides free mentoring services to kids in her community.
- Crystal Ordonez, Villa Victoria Academy
- Hansa Suresh, Northern Highlands Regional High School
- Lily Cheatham, a senior at Haddonfield Memorial High School, serves as the president of the Senior Class. She is also president
of her school’s Model UN team and gun violence prevention club, and has won the Widener Leadership award and the Princeton
Prize in Race Relations for her work in Student Council. In addition to these leadership positions, she is the historian of the
National Honor Society chapter at her school, and a member of the National French Honor Society and National Art Honor
Society. In the future, Lily hopes to study international relations with a concentration in human rights issues in college.
- Rachel Gurevich, a senior at East Brunswick High School, serves as the chairperson of the New Jersey High School Democrats.
She is the former chair of the national Jewish Caucus of the High School Democrats of America, the secretary general of her
school’s Model UN team, and founder and co-group leader of Students Demand Action East Brunswick, which focuses on gun
violence prevention, policy change, and mutual aid. She has served as a campaign fellow for Senator Cory Booker and Governor
Phil Murphy, and as an advisor for her mayor and councilman’s re-election campaigns. Rachel led Youth for Murphy, the youth
wing of Governor Phil Murphy’s successful re-election effort. She also serves as an Editorial Board member for the national
publication, Fresh Ink for Teens.
- Eli Weinger, Saddle River Day School
- Kritika Nagappa. South Brunswick High School
- Siddharth Satish, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North
- Ashley Hernandez, Clifton High School
- Jenna Smith, Kent Place Schools
- Laurence Fine, Ridgewood High School