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We connect youth to real-world experiences even before they reach voting age. Through phone banking, door knocking, registering voters, and helping run candidate forums, students learn to critically analyze issues, build their communications skills, and learn the nuts and bolts of campaigning.
Each year the Mikva Summer Fellows program recruits and places graduating high school students as interns in elected officials offices at the local, state and federal levels. These paid six week internships give students a chance to experience first hand what it is like to be an elected official and/or serve on their staffs. Participating students also attend weekly workshops with each other and Mikva Challenge staff to debrief their office experiences, develop their own leadership skills, and learn about how government works.
For the last twenty years, Mikva Challenge has partnered with local election boards to provide one of the most robust student judge programs in the country. Each election cycle, Mikva staff work with Chicago and DC teachers to recruit over 2,000 high school juniors and seniors to serve at polling sites across both cities from before they open until after they close. These students work the polls with the same responsibilities and authority as their adult counterparts, helping their fellow citizens case their ballots and gaining first-hand experience with the election process even before they can vote.
I can make a difference. Before it always seemed like I was powerless in government, but canvassing and talking to citizens showed me that I do have power to change things.