Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) is founded on September 11, 1960, at the home of William F. Buckley Jr. The Sharon Statement, YAF’s founding document, is also drafted at this important gathering.
Young America’s Foundation has been around for over 50 years. In its time, the organization has had many changes and many impacts on conservatism in America. Walk through the timeline and see the history of Young America’s Foundation unfold.
History of Young America’s Foundation
YAF spearheads the “Rally for World Liberation from Communism,” hosting 18,500 conservatives at Madison Square Garden in New York City. This event is one of the largest conservative events in history.
Ronald Reagan joins the YAF National Advisory Board, eventually becoming YAF’s Honorary National Chairman – a relationship that would last for more than forty years.
Young America’s Foundation begins at Vanderbilt University when a group of students started an organization called University Information Services (UIS) to provide students with conservative ideas that were missing in their educations.
UIS becomes a national organization and is renamed Young America’s Foundation. The goal of bringing conservative speakers to campus remains, and the Foundation launches a nationwide effort to share the Conservative Movement’s greatest minds and voices with student audiences to provide intellectual balance.
The Foundation expands its activities by sponsoring a nationally syndicated radio program featuring California Governor Ronald Reagan.
Foundation leaders, Frank Donatelli and Ron Robinson, established the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
The Foundation inaugurates a national bicentennial program highlighting our Founders’ philosophy of freedom. The program is created to properly commemorate the founding and independence of our nation.
The Foundation holds its first annual National Conservative Student Conference during the summer. James Taylor proudly inaugurates the program and runs the conference for many years.
CPAC hosts newly elected President Ronald Reagan at the conference’s annual banquet. President Reagan also begins the tradition of hosting Young America’s Foundation annual summer student conference (now the National Conservative Student Conference) at the White House each year of his Presidency.
The Foundation publishes American Economic Texts: A Free Market Critique, a 282-page book analyzing the array of economics principles texts being used in colleges.
The Foundation makes national headlines when D.C. police arrest two summer conference attendees for protesting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan outside the Soviet Embassy. The Foundation appeals the case all the way to the Supreme Court when, in 1988, the Court awards the students a major First Amendment victory. The Supreme Court ruling in Boos v. Barry overturns a 50-year-old law barring protests outside of embassies and is the first of two victories for the Foundation.
In the wake of the KAL-007 murders, Soviet propagandist Vladimir Pozner cancels his U.S. national tour after Young America’s Foundation has Tryggvi McDonald, son of the late congressman, appear at the same schools. Pozner was unwilling to answer McDonald’s “murderer” charge.
The Foundation sponsors campus tours by two groups of overseas students. In the spring, two pro-Contra students from Nicaragua and Costa Rica speak on a dozen campuses in support of freedom fighters. In the fall, a group of pro-American students from Europe speak on campuses in support of NATO and the placement of Cruise and Pershing II missiles.
The Foundation hosts a dinner in honor of Henry Regnery, president of Regnery Gateway Publishing, for producing so many classics of conservative thought during his four decades in the publishing business.
The Foundation publishes Entrepreneurs vs. the State, A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America by Dr. Burt Folsom. This book is later renamed The Myth of the Robber Barons and is currently in its sixth edition.
Young America’s Foundation reprints The Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater to ensure young generations have the opportunity to read this important book.
With the campus Left led by university faculty and administrations trying to force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs off campuses across the country, the Foundation launches a national campaign to protect students’ rights to participate in ROTC and have equal access to military recruiters on their campuses.
Young America’s Foundation organizes one of the largest pro-troops rallies in the country at Washington and Lee University during the Gulf War.
Ed Meese becomes the inaugural speaker for the Foundation’s Henry Salvatori Lecture Series. This series leads to a number of named lecture programs which are supported by individuals who are devoted to furthering conservative ideas on campus.
The Foundation publishes Columbus on Trial in response to the attacks on Columbus and the European discovery of America during the quincentennial celebration.
William F. Buckley Jr. who spoke for the Foundation from its earliest days is named the 1992-1993 Henry Salvatori Lecturer.
President Ronald Reagan addresses the students at the 15th Annual National Conservative Student Conference.
The Foundation urges Congress to cut off taxpayer funding to universities hostile to the armed forces. This effort leads to the passage of the ROTC Campus Access Act which is later renamed the Solomon Amendment. Despite challenges to the amendment’s Constitutionality by professors at elite law schools, the Supreme Court unanimously declares it Constitutional.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaks to 2,400 young people at Southeast Missouri State University. His speech is also broadcast on C-SPAN.
Following many requests from students and parents, Young America’s Foundation launches the National High School Leadership Conference. This the first of several programs of its kind geared for high school students who wish to learn more about conservative ideas.
Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott appear together to address more than 400 young people on Capitol Hill at the 19th annual National Conservative Student Conference. This event was broadcast live on C-SPAN and covered by NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, and CNN.
Lady Margaret Thatcher speaks to more than 4,500 people at the College of the Ozarks.
The Foundation sees an extraordinary opportunity to save a precious piece of American history and, at the same time, exponentially increase our ability to fulfill our mission of reaching young people with conservative ideas. On April 21, 1998, Young America’s Foundation acquires Ronald Reagan’s Western White House—also known as the Reagan Ranch and Rancho del Cielo—with the blessings of the Reagan family.
The National Journalism Center merges into Young America’s Foundation to continue training future journalists.
The Foundation celebrates paying off the loan on the Reagan Ranch with a “burning” of the Reagan Ranch note.
Young America’s Foundation acquires the 217 State Street building in Santa Barbara—which will eventually become the new Reagan Ranch Center.
Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman addresses students during the 25th annual National Conservative Student Conference.
To support America’s troops in the war in Iraq, the Foundation organizes a rally which draws thousands to the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
The Foundation launches the 9/11: Never Forget Project to ensure the anniversary of those murdered by radical Islamists is remembered on college campuses.
The Foundation launches Freedom Week on campuses nationwide to commemorate the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and Veterans Day.
Young America’s Foundation’s newly renovated Reagan Ranch Center re-opens in downtown Santa Barbara. This facility is the most important hub of conservative activity outside of Washington, D.C. It is a “Schoolhouse for Reaganism” complete with classrooms, conference space, a theater, library, boardroom, interactive exhibits and galleries, and offices to house our Reagan Ranch team members.
Attorney General Edwin Meese and Secretary Jack Kemp headline the Foundation’s 25th anniversary celebration of the signing of the 1981 Economic Recovery Tax Act—legislation signed into law by President Reagan at Rancho del Cielo. Meese and Kemp’s speeches are broadcast live from the Reagan Ranch Center on C-SPAN.
The Foundation hosts the inaugural Reagan Ranch High School Conference at the Reagan Ranch Center to teach young people about the principles and life of President Ronald Reagan.
Young America’s Foundation celebrates the 30th anniversary of the National Conservative Student Conference. The conference enjoys record C-SPAN coverage with 34 segments broadcasted throughout the week and re-aired consistently thereafter.
Foundation leaders Ron Robinson and Nicole Hoplin publish Funding Fathers: The Unsung Heroes of the Conservative Movement to tell the untold, behind-the-scenes stories of the men and women who made the Conservative Movement the giant force it is today.
Polish President Lech Walesa (1990 to 1995) addresses Foundation supporters and friends in Gdansk, Poland, during a stop on the Foundation’s Baltic Cruise.
Young America’s Foundation forms an Alumni Board of Directors comprised of those who were involved in our programs as students or members of our Foundation team and who continue their engagement with our mission.
Lady Margaret Thatcher addresses Foundation friends and supporters during a special dinner in London, England.
Young America’s Foundation alumnus and former staff member Jason Mattera becomes editor of Human Events—the youngest ever in the publication’s history.
Young America’s Foundation launches our Reagan 100: Freedom’s Future initiative. Our mission with Reagan 100 is to bring President Reagan’s ideals and vision to life for the next generation, and REINSTITUTIONALIZE FREEDOM through the Reagan Ranch, the Reagan Ranch Center, and the programs of Young America’s Foundation, so that it will never again give way. Rather, Freedom will be firmly established as the beacon by which our country and its future are guided.
Governor Sarah Palin and Vice President Dick Cheney headline the Reagan 100 Celebration Weekend at the Reagan Ranch Center.
Young America’s Foundation debuts our inaugural film, Still Point in a Turning World: Ronald Reagan and His Ranch. Written and directed by Stephen K. Bannon, the film is the definitive examination of Ronald Reagan’s beloved ranch and its reflection of his philosophy and values.
Young America’s Foundation and Young Americans for Freedom become one united YAF. Young America’s Foundation is still the name of the parent organization. Young Americans for Freedom joins the National Journalism Center and the Reagan Ranch as a project of Young America’s Foundation.
Young America’s Foundation celebrates the 50thanniversary of President Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing” speech with the goal of doubling the number of its student programs.
The Foundation relocates its national headquarters to Reston, Virginia, after more than 25 years in Herndon. The new headquarters facility provides ample space to host student programs year-round and allows for the Foundation to expand our outreach via more staff and production space.
Young America’s Foundation partners with the Foundation for Economic Education to publish a new resource for students, Excuse Me, Professor: Challenging the Myths of Progressivism. The book debunks more than 50 liberal clichés in a way that is concise and easy for students to understand.
Described by the press as “increasingly powerful,” Young America’s Foundation’s campus lecturers supported conservative students and brought some philosophical balance to the most prominent (and liberal) schools, including Yale, Harvard, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cornell, University of Minnesota,California State University, Los Angeles, and elsewhere.
YAF is winning important free speech battles on campuses today using a legal strategy. A year after suing California State University, Los Angeles for attempting to block YAF speaker Ben Shapiro for being too “controversial,” YAF won an important legal fight. The campus is now changing its policies to be more inclusive of all speech. Red Alert Politics reports: “This is not just a win for YAF or just conservatives; it is a win for all future speakers on college campuses.”
Young America’s Foundation broke the deadlock at the University of California, Berkeley. The admnistrators revered Berkeley’s “High Profile Speakers Policy,” an unconstitutional policy levied only on YAF-sponsored lectures.
In a front-page piece in the Sunday edition of the New York Times in May, the writer described Young America’s Foundation in the headline as “The Conservative Force.”
The National Journalism Center (NJC) celebrated 40 years of training and inspiring truth-seeking journalists.
YAF scored one of the most consequential free speech victories of all time. The victory forced Berkeley to cover YAF’s legal expenses and eliminated the schools unconstitutional “High Profile Speakers Policy,” security fee policy , and the heckler’s veto. The Wall Street Journal weighed in on the case and celebrated YAF’s victory and calling it, “A Free Speech Rebirth at Berkeley.”
YAF amassed 73 million views on Youtube, Facebook, and other platforms. YAF’s Twitter account pulled in more than 113 million impressions in 2018 alone.
YAF wins First and Fourteenth amendment lawsuit against University of Florida. Conservative students at UF can no longer be discriminated against by the university on the basis of their beliefs.
YAF’s videos amasses more than 327 million views on Youtube, Facebook, and other platforms. YAF’s Twitter pulled in more than 757 million impressions and YAF’s Virtual Pass reached a record 1.3 million views.
After more than four decades of leadership—President Ron Robinson announced that he would retire in early 2021. YAF’s Board of Directors elected Wisconsin’s 45th governor, Scott Walker, as his successor.
Young America’s Foundation celebrated the 50th anniversary of it’s founding on November 18.
YAF saved President Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon, Illinois, becoming the new caretaker and owner of this historic Presidential property in America’s heartland.
Vice President Mike Pence headlines Young America’s Foundation’s Fall College Retreat and President’s Club weekend.
YAF launched an individual membership program for Young Americans for Freedom, our campus activism arm.
In September, Young Americans for Freedom–a project of Young America’s Foundation–celebrated its 60th anniversary.
In his final year as YAF’s president, Young America’s Foundation celebrated Ron Robinson’s 43 years of leadership and prepared for Governor Scott Walker to succeed Ron in this key role for the Conservative Movement.