Home Official News Releases Hundreds of post-millennial students to visit Drake’s campus for Youth Issues Summit

Hundreds of post-millennial students to visit Drake’s campus for Youth Issues Summit

Too young to vote, hundreds of young people head to Des Moines to campaign, tell their stories

Defying stereotypes of apathy, hundreds of youth from all around the country will head to Iowa from January 15 to January 17 to campaign for the candidates of their choice and to discuss how to encourage candidates to talk more about issues they care about such as education, immigration and police brutality.

The trip organized by the nonprofit Mikva Challenge will include a Youth Issues Summit on Drake’s campus to discuss “many of the top issues young people face nationally and how youth can be involved in this election regardless of whether they can vote next November,” the organization said. The 200 youth participants will hold a mock causes and vote on issues they care most about in the presidential race.

For the first time, Mikva Challenge will have students from not just Chicago, but also from other parts of Illinois, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Milwaukee and Houston, come together and knock on doors, phone bank, and rally support for the presidential candidates with whom they align most strongly.

Participants include:

Victor Rodriguez, a senior from Westinghouse College Prep, Chicago, and a political junkie in his own right. He’s heavily involved in the IPO in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, and campaigned on his own for Chuy García in last year’s mayoral race.

Karla Martinez, a Christian conservative from Coachella, CA, who will be supporting Ted Cruz. She’s a recent immigrant to the U.S. and got interested in American politics when she helped prepare her father for his citizenship test.

Amelia Haynes, of Long Beach, CA, was motivated to be involved in politics when she protested Proposition 8 (same-sex marriage ban) in California with her two moms. She now wants to address issues at the national level through this trip.

Joseph Staten is a senior at Thurgood Marshall Academy in Washington D.C who failed his 11th grade year and was held back, but that shock made him focused and determined to seize opportunities coming his way. He is excited to be leaving his hometown for the very first time to be part of this campaign trip. He’s rooting for Hilary Clinton.

Lydia Dibissa, a junior at Amundsen High School, Chicago, and a recent immigrant from Ethiopia. She’s been disappointed with leaders from her home country and wants to get involved in American politics to renew her confidence in democracy.

Dibissa, Rodriguez, Martinez, Haynes, and Staten will be available for interviews leading up to the trip. For interview requests contact Maliha Sadiq, maliha@mikvachallenge.org, 917-515-3166.

Press Opportunities (Chicago and Des Moines)

WHAT: Students leave from Chicago for Des Moines
WHEN: Friday, January 15th, 6:00 am
WHO: Youth from Chicago will gather at the Mikva Challenge office to head out for Des Moines

WHAT: Campaigning Day 1
WHEN: Friday, January 15th, 3 to 5 p.m
WHO: 200 Youth will go do different campaign offices and begin campaigning for candidates

WHAT: Campaign Day 2
WHEN: Saturday, January 16, 9:30 to 4:30 p.m.
WHO: 200 youth will visit campaign offices and begin campaigning for candidates

WHAT: Youth Issues Summit 2016 at the Drake University
WHEN: Saturday, January 16, 6 to 10 p.m.
WHO: Youth will hold a mock caucus and vote on issues they care most about in this presidential race

WHAT: Farewell from Iowa
WHEN: Sunday, January 17, noon
WHO: Youth will board buses to head back to Chicago


Named after Abner and Zoe Mikva, the Mikva Challenge is a non-partisan, nonprofit that develops youth to be informed, and active citizens and community leaders. The organization does this by engaging youth in action civics, an authentic and transformative learning process built on youth voice and youth expertise. 

Drake University is a midsize, private university in Des Moines, Iowa, enrolling more than 3,300 undergraduate and 1,700 graduate students from 40 states and approximately 40 countries. Students choose from over 70 majors, minors, and concentrations and 20 graduate degrees offered through six colleges and schools. Drake students, faculty, and staff take advantage of the wealth of cultural, recreational, and business opportunities found in Iowa’s capital city. In return, Drake enriches the city through its own cultural offerings, considerable economic impact, and many service-learning endeavors, which channel the talent and energy of the Drake students toward meeting the needs of the community.