about us

civic knowledge + civic identity + civic engagement


Our Mission

We exist to educate and equip students to become informed and active citizens.

What we Teach

The Georgia Center for Civic Engagement is committed to comprehensive civic education, a multi-disciplinary approach that provides opportunities for educators to sharpen their skills to further impact students as well as provide opportunities for students to directly engage in experiences that will help develop a deeper civic knowledge, a stronger civic identity, and a commitment to a life of civic engagement.

Our History


The State YMCA of Georgia was founded with the sole mission to serve young men.  The first boy's chapter (Hi-Y) was at Fort Valley High School in middle Georgia.


In 1929, the organization added service to young women (Tri-Hi-Y) to its program commitment with its first chapter at Douglas High School in southeast Georgia.


Throughout the 30's and beyond, our organization was forward thinking in serving ALL of Georgia's students regardless of gender or race.

1946 Youth Assembly

In the spring of 1946, we host our first Youth Assembly program in Atlanta.


In the late 1950s and early 1960s our organization was the first youth serving organization in Georgia to fully integrate our student programming.


In the 1970s, co-ed programming popped up and boys and girls participated in many of our programs in the same local Club.

In 1973, we established the Washington Seminar program, now called Georgia Youth Leadership Institute.

In the mid-1970s, Junior Youth Assembly was established to provide the model legislative experience for junior high/middle school students.


In the 1980s, middle school programming was added to further impact the youth of Georgia.  Georgia United Nations Assembly was held for junior high students.


The 1990s was the height of the "Character Counts" movement and our programs such as Christian Life Conference, District Rally, and Youth Training Conference reached their highest participation levels.

In 1994, Senior Georgia United Nations Assembly was established for senior high youth.


During the 2000s, the organization experienced a series of leadership transitions following the long tenure of Mr. Gerald W. Wade as CEO.  Also during this time, changes were occurring within schools due to the No Child Left Behind Act, which created a strong emphasis on educational standards.  Local Clubs, as a result, began to wane as did participation in character programming.


Between 2010-2013, the organization aligned all of its programs to educational standards to best serve schools.  In 2014, the Georgia Center for Civic Engagement launched as a program to house our civic education initiatives.  In 2015, the civic education programs started experiencing significant growth.  By 2017, the Youth Assembly program had grown so much that it necessitated two high school conferences to serve the students.

75th Youth Assembly

In November 2019, we celebrated the 75th occurrence of the Youth Assembly program.


On December 31, 2020, the State YMCA of Georgia merged with the Georgia Center for Civic Engagement becoming an independent youth-serving nonprofit with no affiliation to the YMCA of the USA.


We find ourselves with another opportunity to expand our outreach.  Our YOUth VOTE Georgia mock election initiative has nearly 250,000 Georgia students involved.  COVID-19 may have stopped traditional programming, but we have launched virtual programs to continue to meet student and educator needs.

We are committed educating and equipping students to become informed and active citizens yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

2022 - Expansion

On December 9, 2022, the Georgia Center for Civic Engagement board of directors voted unanimously to become the United States Center for Civic Engagement. 

Our longest continually serving Chapter is Cartersville High School, chartered in the 1950s and new Chapters are created each year.