Democracy is a verb.


Greater Chicago Area

Mikva Challenge was founded in Chicago in 1998, the hometown of Judge Abner Mikva and his wife Zoe Mikva, with the idea of opening up democratic spaces for youth living in under resourced neighborhoods and politically “insignificant” communities.

We started off as a small initiative with 20 students participating in Action Civics projects but the success of our Action Civics model has led us to become a leading force in the field of civic education and youth development. Today Mikva Challenge serves over 15,000 youth every year with offices in Southern California and Washington D.C and partnerships with many school districts across the nation.

Here are the programs we offer in our Chicago headquarters:

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.

Issues to Action

Our Issues to Action program brings Action Civics directly to youth in classrooms and schools. Through partnerships with teachers, students engage in civic action projects that address local issues and advocate for policy change.

Learn more about the Issues to Action program.

Citywide Youth Councils

The purpose of the Citywide Youth Councils (CYCs) is to strengthen youth participation in the formation, implementation, and evaluation of public policy in city government through the creation of issue-based youth councils. The youth in these councils advice elected and government officials on policies that impact the well being of youth in the city.

Learn more about the Citywide Youth Council program.

Project Soapbox

Project Soapbox is a public speaking competition facilitated by Mikva Challenge 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.

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.

Neighborhood Leadership Initiative

Launched in 2017, Mikva’s Neighborhood Leadership Initiative is designed to combine an intensive mentorship and leadership development program for young people in neighborhoods that are suffering from violence. Currently, we facilitate two Neighborhood Councils, one in the New City/Back of the Yards neighborhood and the other in Rogers Park.

Learn more about our Neighborhood Leadership Initiative.

See the impact of our work here!


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


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


students campaigned during the 2015-16 Election Season


teachers participate in Mikva Challenge programs across the country.


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


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

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Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 863-6340

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1220 L St NW, Suite 605
Washington, DC 20005
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10401 Venice Blvd #721
Los Angeles, CA 90034
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