Mikva Challenge is proud to announce the launch of our New City Neighborhood Leadership Initiative, a program composed entirely of young men from the New City and Back of the Yards neighborhoods, to deepen our work within Chicago neighborhoods and provide mentorship and civic engagement opportunities to young people that are most in need of them.

“We want bring youth voice and a youth leadership corps to communities that are struggling with violence. We want to mentor these young men to become empowered community leaders,” said Michelle Morales, CEO of Mikva Challenge.

This new initiative combines the best of what Mikva has to offer- intensive mentorship and leadership development with hands-on opportunities to participate in building policies and recommendations to better their community. The Council completed seven weeks of mentorship and training this summer that focused on leadership development, social emotional skill development, and understanding the New City community. They concluded their summer work with a leadership cafe where these young men presented a community asset map and spoke to prominent community leaders about ways to reduce violence and improve their community. This was one of the four cafes to introduce male Latino and African American professionals and role models to youth who’ve not had these opportunities before.

The youth neighborhood council action plan will continue through Fall and Spring 2017-2018 school year guided by twice a month Saturday meetings focusing on the following:

  • Leadership investment —  development, learn-by-doing and access to role models
  • Top Cause Analysis of Violence  — examining the root cause of violence utilizing a root cause tree as a model for framing the causes and symptoms of violence.
  • Community Exploration —  meet with youth residents, community experts in politics, business, and law to collect insights and understand different perspectives
  • Host and Present Youth-Adult Partnership — Host a second Neighborhood Leadership Cafe to present the top root cause of violence fromthe  youth perspective to determine which cause the council will conduct research and recommendations.