Program Manager – Neighborhood Leadership Initiative (NLI)

Office Location: This position will be hybrid, working in the downtown Chicago office, within the community, as well as remotely, engaging with staff and stakeholders through virtual platforms. This position is not eligible for relocation.

Reports to: Senior Program Director

Schedule: Full-time

Mikva Challenge is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to develop youth to be empowered, informed, and active citizens and community members who will promote a just and equitable society.  We do this by engaging youth in Action Civics, an authentic and transformative learning process built on youth voice and youth expertise. Youth in Mikva’s programming experience unique civic learning opportunities in political campaigns, public policy advocacy, government internships, and youth activism programs. Our approaches include direct youth work, teacher support, and liaising with civic leaders and institutions. We believe strongly in the potential of youth and are committed to youth power and voice.

Mikva Challenge evaluations show the lasting impact of its programs.

  • 82% of students reported an increase in their civic knowledge.
  • 77% of students developed their sense of civic agency and increased their future commitment to civic action.
  • 83% of students took on new civic leadership.
  • 79% of students reported gains in their socio-emotional skills — many of which have direct academic outcomes.

About the Position

The Neighborhood Leadership Initiative (NLI) Program is an out-of-school time program that trains youth in leadership and activism, preparing them to  act on community issues and serve as a council to address them. The NLI Program Manager is responsible for leading two Neighborhood Councils in two Chicago communities. Neighborhood Councils run throughout the year. The target communities for this program are Gage Park, North Lawndale, and New City / Back of the Yards.

The ideal candidate will have previous experience working with youth. They should be highly organized and motivated to empower young adults. A strong belief in the potential of youth, as well as a commitment to youth power and voice is key.

Core Responsibilities

  • Lead two neighborhood councils and facilitate one additional council. Serve as a coach/mentor to the Coordinator by leading weekly debrief/check-in’s and working closely with the Sr Director on overall program management.
  • Write and design lesson plans and curricula for all NLI youth councils; creating outlines, writing lesson plans, developing activities, and creatively adding to Mikva’s existing curriculum
  • Streamline information to the NLI Program Coordinator to assist with the execution of lesson plans and curricula
  • Lead and/or facilitate council sessions and community events with 25-30 youth per council, leading students through team building, identity development, leadership development, and intensive research.
  • Act as the liaison between participants, agency and partners including but not limited to community partners, schools, churches and other entities.Become informed about and engaged in the community/neighborhood in which the councils exist.
  • Maintain consistent communication with youth, parents and guardians regarding participation, programming and related matters.
  • Conduct outreach to school administrators, establishing a recruitment structure and process, creating associated templates and conducting youth interviews.
  • Manage and facilitate the High School Transition Sessions for all participating 8th graders and rising high school freshmen.
  • Mentor up to 60 youth council members throughout the year in order for youth to:
    • Become informed about the issues that impact their community
    • Strengthen their personal, interpersonal and leadership skills
    • Learn how to analyze complex systems and take action to address the root causes of violence in the target communities
  • Help youth design effective surveys, analyze survey results, and utilize  research in powerful ways to further youth interests and goals
  • Promote Mikva Challenge programs to external stakeholders
  • Promote  youth voice and youth decision making in Chicago
  • Assist other programs and departments as needed with campaign trips and special events, including organizational fundraisers
  • Consult with Mikva Challenge’s Director of Youth Support Services and College, Career & Connections (C3) Program Manager as needed to better support youth
  • Support NLI coordinator with program implementation as necessary
  • Perform other duties as assigned

Key Requirements

  • Associates degree or equivalent combination of education and experience
  • 3+ years experience in advocacy, government, or youth programming
  • Bilingual required (English/Spanish)
  • Demonstrated ability to write and implement curriculum and programming that promotes positive youth development and incorporates trauma-informed practices
  • Strong public speaking and workshop facilitation skills
  • Experienced user of Microsoft Office products (Excel and Word), Google Drive, and social media


  • Must be willing to work within identified communities and in partnership with local CBOs
  • Experienced user of Microsoft Office and Google Workspace products
  • Willingness to learn and a growth mindset
  • Ability to independently research a topic or issue
  • Knowledge of Chicago Public Schools’ and charter systems
  • Knowledge of Positive Youth Development strategies and values
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • High energy and a willingness to be flexible and creative.
  • Ability to engage, manage and cultivate relationships with diverse stakeholders
  • Adept at working both independently and as part of a team

Required Competencies

  • Demonstrating and inspiring cooperation, collaboration, reliability, and professionalism
  • Working effectively in changing situations and with diverse groups and issues
  • Inspiring individual and organizational excellence
  • Establishing and maintaining professional contacts to build, enhance, and connect networks to Mikva Challenge

Compensation and Benefits

The salary range for this position is $50,000 – $64,000 annually commensurate with experience. We offer a competitive benefits package that includes paid vacation and sick leave, medical, dental, vision, 401K, disability and life insurance.

Additionally, we offer an additional two weeks of paid time off for scheduled organization downtime.

How to Apply

Please email your resume and cover letter to: with “Program Manager (NLI)” in the subject line.  No phone calls will be accepted! Review of applications will begin immediately.  Candidates should be prepared to offer three professional references upon request. Candidates will be required to complete a background check in order to work in Chicago Public Schools, prior to hire.

Equity Statement

Mikva Challenge is an equal opportunity employer and we highly value diversity in our workplace. Mikva Challenge provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), gender expression, sexual orientation, national origin, age, genetic information, disability, political affiliation, marital status, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factors.

Applicants from historically underrepresented and/or marginalized communities, including people of color, are strongly encouraged to apply.