Mikva begins summer programming for Chicago youth

Mikva begins summer programming for Chicago youth


We are beyond thrilled to have 230 young people in paid internships this summer! Now in its ninth year, the Mikva ‘think-tank’ summer has expanded to six youth policy-making councils with students from across the city serving as advisors to city officials and decision makers. The list includes Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chief Education Officer of Chicago Public Schools, Dr. Janice Jackson, and the Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Public health, Dr. Julie Morita, among others.

Here’s a glimpse into the first week of summer programs for each of these Councils. The transformation that we witness in young people over these months is unparalleled and with your support we hope to be doing even more of it in the coming years.

Teen Health Council:

Mikva’s Teen Health council is working to smash preconceptions imposed on Chicago youth this summer. As a group they started the week learning, discussing, and sharing their thoughts on issues stigmatizing Chicago youth. The Teen Health Council wants to empower others to, “be great” because they know, “I’m going to be great.” The Teen Health council has already descended on an invigorating path to promote change within the Chicago community.

Youth Safety Advisory Council:

Our newest Council, The Youth Safety Advisory Council, will be working with the Chicago Police Department to improve trainings for police officers that are working inside many of the Chicago Public Schools. On Tuesday, June 27, youth leaders met and discussed their project for the summer with the Chicago Police Department staff that included Robin Robinson, Vanessa Westley and Laurence Odoms.

Juan Pablo one of the Council youth leaders summed up the week nicely. He said, “The first week was good, we did a lot of team building skills to find out why we do the things we do and why communication is so important. My goal for the summer is to improve my leadership skills, I’m going to use these leadership skills to better my surroundings,” he added.

Chicago Housing Authority

The Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) council is made up of 18 youth who are currently residents of CHA. This group is addressing the framing question: how might CHA utilize youth centered marketing approaches to increase access and marketing of youth programs to 15-24 year olds? Their first week on the council was focused on building a bond amongst the group, which included defining group norms, defining their leadership styles on the “leadership compass” and setting goals for the summer. To kick off research on their framing question, students identified stereotypes of CHA youth and created a survey to ask their peers about stigmas of Chicago youth on Mass Action Day.

Juvenile Justice Council

The first week kicked off with several ice-breaker activities that helped lay a foundation of trust and friendship among the students and staff. One activity that stood out was the “Personal Values Checklist” in which the students chose the values that mattered to them the most and then decided collectively what they valued as a group.

The first week also served as an introduction of the framing question for the summer, which is, “What does a juvenile justice system that is responsive to youth look like?” The youth were then introduced to several topics that they will be touching upon in the next few weeks, such as the prison complex, mass incarceration and the public defense system. The curriculum we use really allows for students to feel like they’re voices are being heard and that their experiences do matter.

The Chicago Public School Student Advisory Council

This group started the first week of summer off with a lot of excitement. Using Mikva’s icebreakers, energizers, and team building strategies, students made connections with youth from different Chicago neighborhoods.

Throughout the summer the group will be focusing on the framing question: “How do we allocate and distribute resources to positively benefit all CPS Youth?” and providing recommendations to the Chief Education Officer of Chicago Public Schools, Dr. Janice Jackson.

Mayoral Youth Commission

The goal for the Mayoral Youth Commission is to provide the Mayor and his team with a set of recommendations that answer the question: How might the City of Chicago support and prepare all students for post-high school success?

To kick off the summer and learn more about their research questions, the group met with Juan Jose Gonzalez from the Mayors office to discuss a new graduation requirement policy that could affect Chicago Public School students. The proposed policy “Learn.Plan.Succeed” is Mayor Emanuel’s effort to encourage youth to explore their options after high school.

Keep up to date with all the summer excitement at Mikva. Follow us on twitter, instgram and like us on facebook.





Posted on June 30, 2017 in Mikva News

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students campaigned during the 2015-16 Election Season


of Mikva alumni continue to volunteer in their communities, vs. only 36% of 18-29 yr. olds nationwide


students from 117 schools nationwide presented speeches and/or worked on civic action projects


Chicagoland teachers participate in Mikva Challenge programs


of Mikva alumni are registered voters, vs. only 53% of 18-29 yr. olds nationwide


Mikva students serve as election judges each election cycle


young people served in the Chicagoland area, California and Washington DC


of Mikva alumni encourage their friends and family to be politically engaged, vs. only 35% of 18-29 yr. olds nationwide

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