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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.