The Mikva Model
The Mikva model assumes that young people deserve a voice in our democratic process, and it challenges educators and public officials to invite, and meaningfully include, youth in civic decision-making.
Mikva’s three main program areas, Youth Policy Making, Electoral Engagement and Community Problem Solving involve young people in civic engagement through hands-on, project-based learning that deeply transforms students’ civic attitudes, skills, and sense of agency. We’ve grown over the years to now impact 6000 youth, 124 teachers and 115 schools across Chicago and surrounding suburbs.
All our programs are grounded in the principles of actions civics and we adhere to these four core goals in all our work:
- Provide youth with authentic and transformative democratic experiences
- Develop agency and future commitment to civic action
- Provide youth with skills and knowledge to be effective citizens
- Increase exposure, demand, and access to action civics
See the Action Civics Theory of Change
The Mikva Challenge seeks to move beyond ‘your grandmothers’ civics’ to what it calls ‘action civics’ by placing high school students in Chicago polling places, having them volunteer in political campaigns, letting them host candidate forums, and advocating on student issues with local politicians.
– Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education
What is Action Civics?
“Action Civics” is an educational model that builds on the project-based, democratic learning philosophies established by John Dewey and Jane Addams. We believe that the best training of young people for their roles as citizens and leaders is to actually allow them a chance to participate in authentic democratic activities – from elections to advocacy, from public debates to the creation of new civic media.
Why Action Civics?
Youth who miss out on civic learning opportunities are more likely to be students of color and low-income. The consequence of unequal civic learning experiences is not only that disadvantaged students lack civic skills, but they also suffer academically.
Only a quarter of young people reach “proficient” on the NAEP Civics Assessment, and white, wealthy students are four to six times as likely as hispanic or black students from low-income households to exceed that level. Additionally, current policies do not have a significant effect and are not sufficient.
Just over half of Chicago public high school students graduate from high school, and less than 10 percent of students who enter a Chicago public high school will receive a bachelor’s degree by the age of 25.
Read more about the challenges our civic education is faced with today.