The Oklahoma Youth Orchestras program, founded in 1977, provides advanced orchestral education and performance opportunities for talented middle and high school musicians. The Academy seeks to strengthen already existing school instrumental music programs, and to supplement instrumental music programs that do not include orchestra. It provides the opportunity for youth musicians from many different schools to work together to challenge their performance skills under the direction of respected conductors and music educators.

International concert tours have been a feature of the OYO experience from the beginning. The orchestra has performed before audiences in venues as diverse as China, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, New Zealand, Australia, Scandinavia, Mexico, Italy, France, Wales, England, Austria, Switzerland, and Scotland.

The Oklahoma Youth Orchestras program support comes from a combination of sources, including participation fees, concert admission, grants, special projects, and donations.