About Us


Mikva Challenge develops the next generation of civic leaders, activists and policy-makers. We do this by providing young people with opportunities to actively participate in the political process, because we believe that the best way to learn leadership and to learn democracy is to experience both.

A Blast from Mikva Past

What is Mikva Challenge?

Mikva Challenge is a nonpartisan 501(c)3 organization that prioritizes the development of civic leadership in underserved Chicago high school youth.  Mikva Challenge was founded in 1997 as a tribute to former White House Counsel, Judge and U.S. Congressman Abner Mikva and his wife Zoe, a lifelong education activist. We help low-income Chicago youth become meaningful actors in politics and, by doing so, we honor the Mikvas’ decades of inspiring young adults to embark on careers in public service and politics.

We are ambitious youth workers and advocates; since 2000, Mikva Challenge has trained over 20,000 young people through our elections, activism and policymaking programs.  Through the Mikva process, young people connect with peers, adults and political issues, strategize about how to win their issue or campaign and take action to become real political participants.  These youth tell us that they feel they have a “voice” now and report having a greater desire to vote, campaign, organize, lobby, and even run for office.  Perhaps most importantly, these Mikva youth now believe that Chicago is their city and that they have the power, knowledge and skills to make it a more just and equitable place – both now and in the future.

Our Goals

Mikva Challenge’s work is focused on helping youth take political action now in order to develop the next generation of civic leaders. As a result, all our programs aim to achieve our four core goals:

  • Ignite teenagers’ passion for politics
  • Increase youth civic knowledge
  • Develop students’ democratic leadership skills
  • Help young people become part of the solution to school, neighborhood and city problems.
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