Our Programs.

Youth-led Advocacy

All Programs

We believe that youth deserve a seat at the table with city and school leaders who make public policy. When young people are involved in decision-making processes that impact their lives, better decisions are made.

Citywide Youth Councils

One of our most robust Chicago based programs removes barriers to help youth participate in the formation, implementation, and evaluation of public policy in city government. Our youth councils serve as policy experts and advocates, helping the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, the Cook County Board President, City Commissioners, and other city leaders make public policy decisions that significantly impact youth citywide.

Student Voice Committees

Student Voice Committees are designed to form crucial student–adult partnerships to help address the myriad of issues facing schools today. The primary goals for these councils are to improve school culture, and to develop leadership skills of each youth. Student Voice Committees engage young people in the decision-making process at school by partnering with the school principal or other key school leaders on addressing a key issue in the building.

Neighborhood-based Change

The Neighborhood Leadership Initiative is a community-based program dedicated to youth ages 13 to 15 from North Lawndale, Gage Park, and New City/Back of the Yards. The young people on these councils research the violence that they experience in their community, build leadership skills, and develop youth-led safety strategies to take action on public safety initiatives in collaboration with local stakeholders and officials.

National Youth Response Movement

In urgent response to the COVID-19 outbreak 22 Mikva Challenge high school students from across the country formed the National Youth Response Movement. The youth advisory council elevated youth voice and informed policy decisions during the height of the pandemic. Learn more about the council. 

In IL, for more information contact:

Carla Rubalcava

Managing Director of Illinois Programs

In DC, for more information contact:

Voncia Monchais

Managing Director of DC Programs

Mikva Challenge has helped me connect with the constituents that matter most to me and my office — students. Listening and working with Mikva youth leaders has helped me implement policies and programs that truly center youth needs.

Dr. Janice Jackson, CEO, Chicago Public Schools
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