Social Studies is an integrated study of the social sciences. The key components of social studies content knowledge include history, geography, economics and financial literacy, civics, and government. It puts a strong emphasis on important and enduring ideas, events, and people that now affect students' lives and serve as a foundation for the future. As students learn the curriculum, they will develop the critical skills necessary to participate fully in our society. These skills include the ability to acquire relevant and reliable information, organize data, develop sound arguments, construct new knowledge, and collaborate with peers.

United States Senate Youth Program
About the Program

The United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution in 1962 creating the United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP), a national nonpartisan initiative to provide an annual opportunity for talented high school students with demonstrated leadership abilities to deepen their understanding of America’s political processes and strengthen their resolve to pursue careers in public service.

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 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 fifty-eighth 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.

Washington Week

Washington Week will be held March 2-9, 2024, ON SITE in Washington, D.C. All confirmed student delegates will partake in a comprehensive, interactive leadership program in the stated timeframe, and each will receive the $10,000 college scholarship in the name of the United States Senate. The program will have a strong focus on public service, leadership, and education experience. Students will hear from speakers from the three branches of government and the national media. Additional details will be made available upon selection. Students MUST attend Washington Week in order to receive their scholarship.

Students are no longer required to be vaccinated for Covid in order to attend Washington Week. Please review the USSYP brochure for a comprehensive explanation of program rules.

Basic Qualifications/Application Criteria

Applicants must be high school juniors or seniors.

Selection will be based on the student’s outstanding abilities and demonstrated qualities of leadership in an elected or appointed student office for the entire school year. The primary purposes of the qualifying leadership position must be representation of a constituency and service to others. Students must demonstrate an interest in participating in leadership, public service, and government-related activities.

The school the applicant attends must be located in Idaho and at least one of the applicant's parents or guardians must also legally reside in Idaho. A student who attends school in a state other than the state of legal residence of his or her parents or guardians is not eligible. Additionally, students must not be graduating prior to spring of the academic year. Please note: eligible students must be either a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident in possession of their Green Card at the time of application.

The student applicant must hold a leadership position in any one of the following student government, civic, or educational organizations during the entire academic year (Please review the USSYP brochure for a complete list of the positions that do and do not qualify):

  • Student Body President, Vice President, Secretary, or Treasurer
  • Class President, Vice president, Secretary, or Treasurer
  • Student Council Representative
  • National Honor Society President, Vice-President, Secretary, or Treasurer (includes discipline-based National Honor Societies)
  • Student representative elected or appointed (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 administrator
  • Organizations such as FFA, FBLA, Key Club, and other national service groups are allowable organizations if the student is serving in an ongoing and active high-level elected or appointed leadership position for the entire academic year.

The applicant's high school principal must sign and verify the student's application submission and nomination to the program.

Idaho Application Process

Students may qualify to apply through leadership positions they hold per the USSYP official criteria. All student leadership qualifying positions are subject to the judgment of the state selection administrator and will be verified and confirmed. A committee of education leaders selects two delegates and two alternates to represent Idaho in this program. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction provides final approval.

The application window for the 2024 U.S. Senate Youth Program will be open August 1, 2023, to October 22, 2023.

The application process consists of the following steps:

  • Complete the USSYP Student Application Form
  • Preparing a personal essay (attach to web-based application) thoroughly describing
    • The elected/appointed position you currently hold, and all past involvement in student government/leadership;
    • Activities and achievements that demonstrate leadership in school and community that specifically support your desire to serve as a USSYP delegate;
    • Involvement in community service initiatives or programs outside of school;
    • How your participation in USSYP will enhance your understanding and interest in the political and governmental process of the United States;
    • How you believe that being chosen for USSYP will help you explore some of the more important questions I have about the challenges facing the country.
      • Formatting requirements: double spaced; 12-point font; you may use any essay formatting style you prefer (i.e. MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.)
      • Length requirements: none
    • Preparing a persuasive essay (attach to web-based application) for the following prompt: As a student leader in Idaho, what do you see as the greatest areas for improvement in the education system, and what ideas would you propose to create better dialogue and understanding among various student groups?
      • The topics you address should be important to you. In your essay, you should take a stand, relate its importance to you, and defend your position. The essay will be judged on organization, ideas and content, evidence of personalization, and writing conventions. It is expected that you will conduct some level of research for this essay. Any unoriginal thoughts or ideas must be attributed appropriately both in the text and on a Works Cited or References page.
      • Formatting requirements: double spaced; 12-point font; you may use any essay formatting style you prefer (i.e. MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.)
      • Length requirements: none
  • Providing letters of support & recommendation (attach to web-based application)
  • You must include the following letters of support and recommendation:

    • One from your high school principal or a teacher;
    • One from an adult representative of the organization or activity where you hold a record of leadership and service to others and/or where currently hold a USSYP-qualifying leadership position.

    There are no formatting requirements for these letters, but they should be signed.

  • Providing required signatures (attach to web-based application)
  • Please include the completed, signed Application Addendum: Required Signatures. The following individuals must complete this form:
    • The applicant
    • Applicant's high school principal
    • Adult representative from the applicant's qualifying position organization (ONLY for students serving in position other than student body or National Honor Society officer)

Two students from each state will be selected to attend Washington Week in March of the academic year, and each will receive a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship. All applicants will be notified of selection results in early December of the academic year.

For more information about the United States Senate Youth Program, visit or contact Leslie Younger at the Idaho Department of Education at or (208) 332-6975.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Idaho Content Standards

Social Studies

For additional information on the Idaho Content Standards, visit our Content Standards page.