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Program Descriptions

Here are Mikva Challenge IL’s youth programs:

Programs generally begin in late June/early July with summer programming, and some continue on through the school year.  The programs are:

Neighborhood Leadership Initiative (NLI) |

NLI is a leadership program for 13-15 year old youth living or going to school in North Lawndale, Gage Park, and New City/Back of the Yards. Each session, youth get to know each other, engage in community-building games, and discuss and research issues around violence in their neighborhood. The ultimate goals are to gain leadership skills and meet with adult leaders, such as aldermen, to include youth voice in the changes they want to see in their communities.

Apply to NLI


Mikva Summer Fellows – summer only |

The Mikva Challenge Summer Fellows (MSF) program provides paid work experience through work-based learning placement. The program places Cook County residents ages 17-20 into paid summer internship positions in the offices of city, county, state and federal lawmakers for 30 hours a week, for 6 weeks between June and August. This year, we are excited to partner with the Illinois Department of Human Services Youth Investment Program (IYIP) to offer the program to roughly 40 Chicago and Cook County youth. The IYIP partnership allows us to pay our fellows $15 per hour for their hard work and valuable contributions in their offices.

In addition to working in an elected official’s office, Mikva Summer Fellows will be part of a professional development cohort focused on developing work readiness skills including communication, collaboration, critical thinking, public speaking, and teamwork. Fellows will meet weekly with Mikva staff to create career goals, complete workforce readiness assessments, and track their progress in the program.

The application for Mikva Summer Fellows is now closed. Please explore our other programming options.


Citywide Youth Councils (CYCs) |

Citywide Youth Councils serve as a mechanism for current 9th -11th graders to have input on city policy. Each CYC consists of 20-25 young people from across the city who meet to participate in team building, leadership development, research, and the creation of policy proposals to key decision makers in city government.  Citywide Youth Councils allow youth to have a voice in the formation, implementation, and evaluation of public policy; our councils include Chicago Housing Authority Youth Council (CHA), Juvenile Justice Council (JJC), CPS Student Advisory Council (SAC), Teen Health Council (THC), and Youth Safety Advisory Council (YSAC).

Citywide Youth Councils have closed their applications for Summer 2021 programming. If you are interested in being added to an email list for future recruitment, please fill out this form.


Any questions about the application process can be sent to youthprograms@mikvachallenge.org

At Mikva Challenge, we celebrate difference and are committed to providing equitable opportunities, addressing the effects of power and privilege. Mikva Challenge is proud to be an equal employment opportunity workplace. We are committed to equal employment opportunity regardless of race, color, ancestry, gender, gender identity, national origin, sexual orientation, age, citizenship, marital status, disability, veteran status, or any other factor covered by federal, state, or local statutes. We want to create an empowering space to change lives!