Democracy is a verb.


Action Civics 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 over 10,000 youth in Chicago and its suburbs, California, Washington D.C.

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.

Discover the Impacts of Action Civics


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


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


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


Mikva students serve as election judges each election cycle


of Mikva alumni are registered voters, vs. only 53% 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 CA
10401 Venice Blvd #721
Los Angeles, CA 90034
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