Democracy is a verb.


Mikva Challenge DC

Modeled after the successful civic engagement programming developed for youth in Chicago, Mikva Challenge DC provides opportunities for young people in DC to engage in action civics and community problem solving, and seeks to increase youth voice in local decision making processes.

Using Mikva Challenge’s Democracy in Action (DIA) curriculum, 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.

Mikva DC Noteworthy Achievements:
  • In the 2017-18 school year, more than 25 DC schools have signed up to run Mikva Challenge’s Democracy in 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

As a youth advocate, it was a deeply humbling experience for me to volunteer as a Project Soapbox judge. The high school students I met are not waiting for a college-level sociology course to delve into complex topics like gentrification, body shaming, and combating domestic violence, and they are delivering powerful speeches aimed at the hearts and minds of their audience. It was a meaningful reminder that the best advocates for youth are often the youths themselves. — Joseph Gavrilovich, guest judge

Mikva Challenge DC: Participating Schools

  • Anacostia High School
  • Ballou High School
  • Benjamin Banneker High School
  • Capital City Public Charter School
  • Columbia Heights Education Campus
  • Dunbar High School
  • Eastern High School
  • Edmund Burke School
  • E.L. Haynes Public Charter High School
  • H.D. Woodson High School
  • Hart Middle School
  • Jefferson Middle School
  • Johnson Middle School
  • Kelly Miller Middle School
  • Luke C. Moore High School
  • McKinley Technology High School
  • Paul Public Charter School
  • Phelps ACE High School
  • Roosevelt High School
  • School Without Walls
  • SEED Public Charter High School
  • Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter High School
  • Walker Jones Education Campus
  • Washington Global Public Charter School
Mikva Challenge DC Advisory Board
Ken Adams
Steve Binder
David Bonior
Robert Brandon
Thad Fletcher
Lewis Grossman
Nicholas Guzman
Beth Heifetz
Sandy Horwitt
Cosby Hunt
Randy Kinder
Stanimir Kostov
Bruce Lerner
Jim Lingberg
Mark Maloney
Alden Matamoros
Kenann McKenzie Thompson
Judith Meltzer
Ralph Neas
Michael Pistner
Tiffany Quivers
Pamela Silberman
Sarah Stettinius
Richard Wolff


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


Mikva students serve as election judges each election cycle


Chicagoland teachers participate in Mikva Challenge programs


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


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


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


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


students campaigned during the 2015-16 Election Season

200 S Michigan Ave.
Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60604
(312) 863-6340

Mikva Challenge DC
1220 L St NW, Suite 605
Washington, DC 20005
Action Civics LA
1000 N. Alameda Street
Suite 340
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 346-3248 Send us An Email

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