Illinois Youth Summit

What is the Illinois Youth Summit?

Youth have the power to bring about change. Since 1995, the Illinois Youth Summit has given students an informed voice in discussions about current issues that affect them.   It is a chance for Illinois high school students  to explore and discuss these issues as participants in our democratic society.  A critical form of participation is discussion. But how do we listen to and discuss opinions that often are very different from our own? How do we make decisions fairly? How do we accept outcomes with which we don’t necessarily agree? The Illinois Youth Summit curriculum is designed to foster these vital conversations.

Illinois Youth Summit Townhall Meeting

Each year, students from around Illinois study and assess three focus issues; survey other students about the issues; share positions on one or more of the foc us issues; and conduct a service project to teach one or more of these issues to other students.

Student delegates from each school then meet with real policymakers, adults from the community who work with these issues on a daily basis, to share their thoughts and experiences on these issues.  After the Summit, delegates report back to their classes, and interested classes present portions of the Summit to other students.

What are the objectives of the Summit?

The objectives of the Illinois Youth Summit are to help students:

  • Analyze the facts and discuss different viewpoints relating to an important focus issue
  • Practice discussing and deliberating current public policy issues
  • Conduct an educational service project in their communities based on a Summit issue
  • Develop with other students a short position statement on one or more of the focus issues
  • Become actively involved in the culminating Youth Summit, either as a delegate or by helping to prepare a class delegation
  • Share learning from the Summit with other students
  • Discussing Controversial Public Issues in a Democracy

What kind of questions does the Summit address?

The Summit always addresses current and controversial public policy issues facing students’ communities.  Examples of past questions include:

  1. Should the Illinois General Assembly enact a law requiring all public schools to provide comprehensive sex education in grades 6-12?
  2. Should the Illinois General Assembly enact a law banning the use of all red-light cameras?
  3. Should the Illinois General Assembly enact a law allowing public high schools to use social media in teaching students?

If your school is interested in participating in the Illinois Youth Summit, register by clicking on the blue "Events" button on the right side of your screen, or contact Dee Runaas (312-663-9057,