2015: The Year at Mikva Challenge


We launched 2015 with a discussion on violence in Chicago schools and neighborhoods. Over 120 youth leaders gathered in downtown Chicago to design a blueprint for peace and safety for Chicago schools. Here’s a reflection from two Morgan Park High School youth about their experiences at the event.

The year was marked by some great impacts on the lives of young people in Chicago. Here’s one of Kortez Brinson, a senior at Gary Comer College Prep and a member of our Juvenile Justice Council. Just two years ago, however, Kortez was homeless. Click above to hear more of his story and the role of Mikva Challenge in his life.

11081477_10153258947459612_2561482081900129388_nChicago saw its first ever run-off in the mayoral elections of 2015. Mikva Challenge youth put hundreds of hours in knocking doors, phone banking and mobilizing both youth and adults to Get Out The Vote and support the candidate of their choice.

Mark Brown, Chicago Sun-times: Teens learn value of voting and politics, one door knock at a time.
Photos from our Campaign Kick-off Event and from our campaign days around Chicago.
Youth Created Buzz Feed: 10 reasons why Chicagoans should vote in the Mayoral election.

Youth Health SummitWe had Amazing energy and great turnout at Mikva Challenge’s fully youth-led Health Summit in 2015! Youth walked away with ideas about how to start a wellness team in their schools and what solutions could be applied to address some of their school’s most pressing health issues. The Summit came full circle when the Teen Health Council’s Chicago Wears Condoms campaign launched with the full support of the Chicago Department of Public Health in October 2015.

Chicago’s greatest celebration of student activism, our Annual Action Civics Fair 2015, brought over a 100 student groups from all over Chicago to present their school and community activism projects at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Here’s a storify of the event.
WBEZ: CPS Students Take Action.
DNAInfo: High School Students Propose Big Ideas at Mikva’s Action Civics Showcase.

WePBbecause...-2We are very proud of our work in Chicago high and middle schools this year. Youth from our Peace and Leadership Councils instituted a culture of youth voice in their schools and worked with adult decision makers to solve critical issues. The youth Council at Wells High School launched a campaign against cyber bullying and conducted Upstander Trainings that students report changed the climate of bullying in the school. Youth from Sullivan High School designed a project for Participatory Budgeting in their ward. They then launched a GOTV campaign to get youth to vote and the result was that their project won on the ballot! Great stories from our schools:

Youth Voice on the ballot in the 49th Ward PB Process.
Wells High School video campaign to improve school climate. 



We know we’ve succeeded in our mission when we see our alums continue the work of youth voice in their post-Mikva life. Here’s the story of Mikva Alumna, Valonda Roberts, who came back to Mikva Challenge to lead a youth council at Tilden High School:

Mikva Alumna Returns to Lead PLC Program. 



We celebrated the legacy of our founders, Abner and Zoe Mikva, with our Political Transformation Story campaign. We interviewed some of Ab’s closest friends, congressional and staff members, for a scope on their transformational moment and their time with the Mikva family.

Watch: Ken Adams
Watch: Sandy Horwitt

Screenshot 2015-12-23 13.48.022015 was the year of big dreams at Mikva Challenge. This was the first year we held Project Soapbox competitions in Chicago, Aurora, LA and D.C, and they were all a big success!

Videos from Chicago’s Soapbox Competition.

Photos from the competition in Aurora. 

Last but certainly not the least, 2015 was possible because of you and your support. Here’s a thank you from our alums to you.