The World Lithuanian Youth Association (WLYO) was officially founded in 1972 during the second World Lithuanian Youth Congress at Kent University in the United States. Here a board was elected and the goals, mission, and vision of the organization were created. At this time the primary goal of the organization was to protest the Soviet occupation of Lithuania and to bolster the national pride of Lithuanians who were now scattered across the globe. Today the occupation is over and the Soviet regime has crumbled, but the organization faces new challenges in light of mass emigration and a shift in youth attitudes. Presently, the WLYO represents 40 active Lithuanian Youth Association chapters and has a bureau in Lithuania.
The World Lithuanian Youth Association is a part of the greater Lithuanian World Community; it specifically brings together youth between the ages of 16-35, represents their needs and ideas at official meetings, encourages the further proliferation of the organization, and acts as a medium for information regarding culture, professional development, and education. The WLYO maintains close working ties with Lithuania’s youth organizations and governmental institutions.
Every three to five years the WLYO organizes a World Lithuanian Youth Congress. The location varies, but it always takes place in a country that has an active Lithuanian Youth Association. Representatives from around the world gather to select a new WLYO governing board, which is responsible for carrying out the plans that are delineated during the event. The XIV Congress took place in the UK and Lithuania during the summer of 2013.
The current WLYO board is working not only to continue previously started international projects, but also to work internally to build a more efficient and effective network of Lithuanian Youth Associations worldwide. The WLYO board also wishes to improve transparency increase the visibility of Lithuanians around the world.