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  • Writer's pictureTraci Dority-Shanklin

What is the Mikva Challenge?

On Friday, I spoke with the retired Chairman of the Board of Marco Consulting, Jack Marco, about The Mikva Challenge. Some of you may not know that Jack is a board member of The Mikva Challenge, an organization founded on the principle of giving disenfranchised youth a voice and participation in the political process.

In this audio clip from “Democracy is a Verb” only on The World of Multiemployer Benefit Funds Podcast, Jack Marco gives a brief overview of The Mikva Challenge:

To listen to the full podcast episode, click HERE.

Today, The Mikva Challenge has grown into a national organization with three chapters in Illinois, California, and Washington DC. Mikva’s sixteen partner sites provide training, support, and “Action Civics” curricula to marginalized youth and under-funded school districts around the country.

They’ve never lost sight of teaching young people who typically come from lower-income communities and are not necessarily top students. The Challenge has even changed the lives of students involved with gangs and turned them into great community leaders.

Democracy is a Verb!

I first learned about The Mikva Challenge in 2002 when I attended a fundraiser hosted by Jack Marco and the Marco Consulting Group – now called, Segal-Marco Advisors. At the fundraiser, Mikva program “graduates” shared their personal experience with the program.

After listening to one of the student speakers, I walked right up to Jack and told him that I needed to get involved. A week later, I was on the fundraising committee where I spent the next few years seeing this organization up close and personal.

“Issues to Action” is a cornerstone of the Mikva curriculum. It provides a step-by-step process to help students identify, research, and analyze the important issues in their communities. Once these issues have been identified, the program helps them develop strategies to impact policy.

“Project Soapbox” gives students a voice and shows them how to create and develop an effective speech for issues they’re passionate about. Curriculum graduates are presented with opportunities to speak in front of their peers and communities about these issues.

The “Student Voice Committee” curriculum is an after-school program that helps students create a governing body that works in collaboration with their school principal to create changes within their school.

“Elections in Action” exposes students to political campaigns and electoral politics. Students are encouraged to explore their own political ideologies and learn about candidates who are running for office.

Though every graduate’s story is different, the life-changing theme in these students’ lives is repeated year after year. I would encourage you to check out The Mikva Challenge and get involved, donate, or volunteer. One click can make a difference:

Be informed. Be inspired. Be part of the change!

About The World of Multiemployer Benefit Funds Podcast

To listen to the full podcast with Jack Marco on Democracy is a Verb, click HERE.

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