Democracy is a verb.


Mikva Challenge DC

Modeled after the successful civic engagement programming developed for youth in Chicago, Mikva Challenge DC develops youth to be empowered, informed, and active citizens who will promote a just and equitable society.  Mikva Challenge DC was founded on the premise that youth voice and participation matter, and that our civic and political life will be stronger when youth participate and help shape their own destinies.

Mikva Challenge DC’s signature work is our Issues to Action program in which local teachers implement a curriculum that empowers students with the skills, knowledge, and dispositions to be “superstar citizens.” At the core is the idea that students explore their communities from an asset based perspective, identify issues that are important to them and their community, research the issue, analyze power, and ultimately develop an action plan and take action. We train teachers in this curriculum, provide ongoing classroom support, and host city-wide events that gather all participating students to showcase their efforts. Learn more about the Issues to Action program.

As part of our Issues to Action work, students participate in our Project Soapbox competition.  Project Soapbox is a public speaking competition facilitated by Mikva Challenge DC that calls young people to speak out on issues that affect them and their communities. These powerful speeches have lasting, transformative impacts on classrooms, schools, and communities. Learn more about Project Soapbox.

“Because I learned about civic engagement during high school, I know how to go about dismantling processes that are inconsistent with my beliefs on justice. I can have a civil conversation with someone who has a completely different perspective and rally on the one area in which we share common ground. I pay attention to round tables and the way politicians vote on certain bills. What I’d like to highlight, however, is that these skills aren’t just practical, but they also require critical thinking, solidarity and compassion, which I think our world can always use a little bit more.”  

– Mikva DC alumnus Maya Branch delivering opening remarks about the impact of our programming at the National Conference on Citizenship.

In addition to these school-based programs, Mikva DC also offers the following after school and summer opportunities for students to gain critical civic leadership experiences.

Elections in Action

Our campaign and student judge program provides authentic and direct political participation experience to young people even before they reach voting age.

Learn more about our Elections in Action program.

Mikva Summer Fellows

The Mikva Summer Fellows program provides the opportunity for students to participate in paid internships in the offices of local, state, and federal elected officials. Participating students also attend a weekly workshop with Mikva Challenge staff and other interns to debrief their internship experiences, develop leadership skills, and learn about how government works.

Learn more about our Summer Fellows program.

Mikva DC Noteworthy Achievements:
    • In the 2017-18 school year, 25 DC schools have signed up to run Mikva Challenge’s Issues to Action curriculum – almost doubling our participating schools since our first official year in 2015-16.
    • Last fall, nearly 1000 students participated in our Project Soapbox activities. Over 90% of participating students plan to take action on the issue they spoke on.
    • On March 23, 2017, Mikva Challenge showcased over 25 student led community change projects at our Annual Action Civics Showcase.
    • After completing Mikva DC’s Issues to Action program in 2016-17,
        • 87% of students believe they can make some difference in solving community problems (vs. 48% of students beforehand).
        • 85% of students believe they can express their views in front of a group of people (vs. 50% of students beforehand).
      • 91% of students know how to work with an adult decision-maker to address their issue (vs. 56% of students beforehand). 
  • In our second year of the Summer Fellows program, we are happy to have grown our summer fellows by almost 40%. Students interned for local elected and appointed officials. During the week, students interned for elected or appointed officials in the DC government, and learn about local policy making.

Youth in this program:

• SPEAK OUT about issues affecting them, their schools’ and communities

• ADVOCATE for change in their schools and communities

• COLLABORATE with young people from different backgrounds

• RESEARCH an issue and set a goal

• DEVELOP an action plan to affect change

• SHOWCASE their year-long activism efforts at Mikva Challenge DC’s annual Action Civics Showcase

Mikva Challenge DC: Participating Schools

  • Anacostia High School
  • Ballou High School
  • Benjamin Banneker High School
  • Brightwood Education Campus
  • Capital City PCS High School
  • Cardozo High School
  • Cesar Chavez PCS High School – Capitol Hill
  • Columbia Heights Education Campus
  • Dunbar High School
  • Eastern High School
  • The Edmund Burke School
  • E.L. Haynes PCS High School
  • Friendship PCS Collegiate Academy
  • Friendship PCS Tech Prep
  • Friendship PCS Chamberlain
  • Friendship PCS Woodbridge IB
  • H.D. Woodson High School
  • Hart Middle School
  • Jefferson Middle School
  • Johnson Middle School
  • Kramer Middle School
  • Luke C. Moore High School
  • MacFarland Middle School
  • McKinley Tech High School
  • Phelps ACE High School
  • Ron Brown College Preparatory High School
  • Roosevelt High School
  • School Without Walls
  • SEED Public Charter High School
  • Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School
  • Washington Global Public Charter School
  • West Education Campus
Mikva Challenge DC Advisory Board
Ken Adams
Steve Binder
David Bonior
Robert Brandon
Thad Fletcher
Lewis Grossman
Beth Heifetz
Sandy Horwitt
Cosby Hunt
Randy Kinder
Bruce Lerner
Jim Lingberg
Mark Maloney
Alden Matamoros
Kenann McKenzie Thompson
Judith Meltzer
Richard Meyer
Ralph Neas
Catherine Perretti
Michael Pistner
Tiffany Quivers
Pamela Silberman
Sarah Stettinius
Richard Wolff


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


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


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


Mikva students serve as election judges each election cycle


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


teachers participate in Mikva Challenge programs across the country.

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Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 863-6340

Mikva Challenge DC
1220 L St NW, Suite 605
Washington, DC 20005
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Los Angeles, CA 90034
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