Week One of Mikva’s Change-Maker Summer


With young people out of school, summer is really the time for us to maximize our youth development and leadership work. This year, we have 170 paid summer interns as part of our Citywide Youth Council and Summer Fellows program who are not only gaining valuable communication and leadership skills, but are also strengthening youth voice and participation in the formation, implementation, and evaluation of public policy and city governance.

Below is a quick overview of our first week!

Teen Health Council (THC):

thc 2 IMG_20150701_103617060-2The THC jumped right into their summer question! They introduced students to the topic of stress, race and equity, and how they all relate to each other. Students shared their personal stories and experiences with stress and talked about ways they coped with it.

A highlight was their trust building ‘traffic jam’ activity at Grant Park! It was not only great fun but also allowed students to loosen up and get to know each other in an informal way. Towards the end of the week, even shyer students were volunteering to speak up and share their personal stories.

Juvenile Justice Council (JJC): 

jjc jjc3JJC had a soft win in their first week! The team was able to get a few of the quieter students to speak up by improvising on their Marshmallow Challenge activity that intentionally involved the quieter students to act as the designated talker for the group.

The Council was introduced to their decision maker, the Executive Director for the Cook County Justice Advisory Council, Lanetta Haynes Turner, who spoke about her experience as a foster child and her subsequent passion for Juvenile Justice Reform. To understand the history and struggles of justice for youth, the group took a field trip to the Hull House. They were inspired by the legacy of Jane Addams who fought for the creation of a separate legal system for youth. Check out their tweets at @MCJJusitce.

CPS Student Advisory Council:image1-8

The first day of programming for this Council began with a challenge. When introduced to the framing question of improving school climate, many youth leaders started to group schools and neighborhoods as plainly bad. Hearing these comments and responses, Angela and her team took a detour from their facilitation plan and deep dived into deconstructing what youth leaders meant by a bad school. Great activity for the Council as it cleared up a lot of misconceptions and set the summer up to a positive and productive start!

Mayoral Youth Commission (MYC): 

The first week was all about getting familiar with the history of youth unemployment, structural racism, and the technology industry in Chicago. The group went to the Department of Innovation and Technology to hear from Dan O Neil, Executive Director of Smart Chicago and Brenna Berman, Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology Commissioner, about the different ways the city is working to integrate technology in the lives of young people. The field trip helped students understand the why of the Council’s framing question. There was a thoughtful back of forth between the students and the adult leaders and Council members started to think deeply about connecting their needs with technology rather than thinking about technology as an end in itself.

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After School Matters (ASM):

IMG_0153 ASM1After School Matters youth did some intense data analysis their first week! They met with Jill Young, the Evaluation Director at After School Matters, to get data from the nonprofit to figure out why young men had a much lower participation rate in many of the ASM programs. Youth leaders got deep into data analyses and towards the end of the week were able to come up with a series of questions that struck right at the heart of this issue!

Mikva Summer Fellows:

KIMG0361-2 20150701_115629-2Big first week for the Summer Fellows team as all the interns got successfully in touch with their offices and are venturing out to begin work for the summer! The first group met at Be You Media to chart out some of the big political issues being talked about on the national scale. They made some amazing infographics and tweeted them out to help other young people understand the issues of immigration, civil rights, education, mental health and climate change.