Young America's Foundation
|Young America's Foundation|
|Purpose/focus||Conservative Youth Organization|
|Region served||United States of America|
|Affiliations||Young Americans for Freedom, National Journalism Center, The Reagan Ranch|
|Slogan||The Conservative Movement Starts Here|
Young America's Foundation (YAF) is a conservative youth organization, founded in 1969, with a focus on sharing conservative ideas with students through conferences, campus lectures, seminars, posters, and activism initiatives.
Young America's Foundation was founded in 1969 at Vanderbilt University when students formed an organization called University Information Services (UIS). The reason for creating the UIS was to provide students with a familial atmosphere to express their conservative beliefs. When UIS became a national organization in the early 1970s, it changed its name to Young America’s Foundation. The goal of this organization was to bring conservative speakers to campus. It held the first National Conservative Student Conference in 1979. It has been a prominent supporter of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference for many years.
Ron Robinson has been president of Young America's Foundation since 1977.
Young America’s Foundation is a tax-free organization. According to public records, YAF is exempt because of its organizational activities. These including lectures on college campuses, conferences throughout the nation, and internships. According to the YAF, these programs reach thousands of students and millions more nationwide when broadcast on C-SPAN. The cost of these programs is around 5.7 million dollars. The organization also cites their work on Reagan Ranch as a charitable contribution to society. The preservation of this center costs YAF around 3 million dollars. Another tax exempting venture includes the National Journalism Center (NJC). In 2007, the NJC gave scholarships to over 60 individuals in the amount of $174,269.46.
For 2009, the Young America’s Foundation reported net assets of $36.1 million. That year, the organization had $13.5 million in total revenues, $13.2 million in total expenses and a net balance of $295,467. In 2009, foundation President Ron Robinson received total salary and benefits of $498,766.
Young America’s Foundation produces a magazine called Libertas. It is a quarterly newsletter that reports on the activities, conferences, lecture programs, Reagan Ranch, activist resources, and upcoming events. The magazine also dedicates a section to recognize achievements by noteworthy alumni of the Young America’s Foundation.
Every year, the YAF announces the top 10 conservative colleges in the nation. In 2008, the fourth annual “Top Ten Conservative College” list was unveiled. The list was created in response to inquiries from members about recommendations for conservative colleges. YAF claims that other rankings, such as U.S. News & World Report's release of “America’s Best Colleges”, do not take into account the overall college experience. Young America’s Foundation focuses on the overall conservative experience offered by a college. The list for 2008 includes the following schools: Christendom College, College of the Ozarks, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Grove City College, Harding University, Hillsdale College, Indiana Wesleyan University, Liberty University, Saint Vincent College, and Thomas Aquinas College. The list was identical to the list published in 2007. All of the colleges listed have a Christian or Catholic foundation.
Young America’s Foundation’s mission is to instill, in young people, the ideas of individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and traditional values. In order to achieve this goal, YAF provides conferences, seminars, educational materials, interships, and speakers to young people across the country. YAF’s slogan is “The Conservative Movement Starts Here.” YAF considers itself the starting point to the conservative movement because it attempts to reach young students and educate them in conservative thought and rhetoric. A New York Times article written in 2004 details some of the rhetoric used by YAF. Author John Cloud says that conservative students have borrowed the left’s rhetoric of victim-hood. He goes on to say that conservatives carve out pockets for themselves among universities in which liberals control the faculty, the curriculum, and the resources. They have even gone so far as to support “intellectual diversity” on campus. The article also points to controversial tactics used when distributing fliers on college campuses. In 2000, before a speech given by conservative Michelle Easton, fliers were passed out reading: “What does a woman REALLY want? Husband. Children. Picket Fence.” YAF official Patrick Coyle recommends tactics to thwart liberal influence at conservative YAF-sponsored events. He tells students to take signs from people at events on the grounds that they may be used as weapons. He also advised conservatives to be ready with questions at the end of a lecture so that the left did not have a chance to “take over” Q and A sessions.
Annually, Young America’s Foundation holds high school conferences to share conservative views with high school students from around the country. More specifically, it hosts The National High School Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. and the Reagan Ranch High School Conference in Santa Barbara, California. These conferences are intended to introduce students to conservative thought and no prior experience on the subject is necessary. The conferences consist of briefings and discussions with conservative leaders. Tours for the respective locations are also given.
College conferences are also a part of YAF’s activities. The National Conservative Student Conference held its 30th annual meeting on August 3–9, 2008 at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. This conference brings conservative leaders from across to country to speak to college students interested in learning about conservative thought. Some speakers from the 2008 conference include George Allen and Fred Barnes. Founder Ron Robinson, president of YAF, says that after attending these conferences, he hopes that students understand that “they are not going to get a complete education from their schools.” 
The West Coast Leadership Conference was held November 14–15, 2008 in Santa Barbara, California. The conference featured several speakers on a variety of topics including free markets, limited government, national defense, personal responsibility, traditional values, and the ideas and principles of President Ronald Reagan. The conference is the largest of the Conservative Movement of its type. It offered books, resources, and networking opportunities.
Young America’s Foundation also holds a number of regional conferences across the country. There will be a Midwest Conference held in Chicago on March 13–14, 2009. Young America’s Foundation’s lectures and conferences have had noteworthy success even in more liberal settings. For example, in 2004, Ben Stein, a former Comedy Central host and Nixon aide, spoke at Duke University on behalf of YAF. According to a New York Times article, it was the biggest event of the semester in which 200 students had to be turned away at the doors. Stein’s speech garnered more interest than the lecture given nearly two months earlier by Maya Angelou.
In order to encourage young people to participate in their activities on campus, Young America’s Foundation has created a program called Club 100. Under this program, students gain points for organizing rallies on campus or attendance at YAF events. Attending the National Conservative Student Conference is worth 30 points. A total of 100 points earns an individual an invitation to attend a YAF-sponsored retreat at the Reagan Ranch Center. Other rewards include books from conservative authors, including Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, and Michelle Malkin. Points are also good for conservative videos and YAF merchandise. Young America's Foundation encourages its members to surpass the 100 point level. Those who achieve the highest amount of points achieve special benefits from YAF.
In 2007, Young America's Foundation founded its first chapter at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. As of December 2012, it reportedly had chapters at 100 colleges and universities. 
- Tower, Wells. 2006. "THE KIDS ARE FAR RIGHT." Harper's Magazine 313, no. 1878: 41-53. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 24, 2008).
- Jacobson, J. (2006, January 6). Conservative Group Cites Colleges of Like Mind. Chronicle of Higher Education, 52(18), A48-A48. Retrieved November 24, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.
- Young America's Foundation history at official website.
- CPAC 2008
- "Libertas". YAF. Retrieved 2008-11-23.
- Cloud, John (August 22, 2004). "The Right's New Wing". Time.
- Williams, Krissah. "A Gathering of Young Conservatives". The Washington Post.
- College Insurrection blog "Young Americans for Freedom reaches 100!" Accessed November 11, 2012.