What We Do
Founded in 1971, Close Up is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, civic education organization that believes a strong democracy requires active, informed participation by all citizens. Therefore, we seek to serve young people from all communities and all backgrounds, regardless of race, religion, gender, socioeconomic level, or academic standing.
For over 50 years, we have partnered with schools nationwide to serve more than one million students and educators through experiential programs in our nation’s capital and in local communities, virtual programs, professional development, and curriculum and resource design.
Close Up’s issue-centric, nonpartisan curriculum gives participants a deeper understanding of history, government institutions, current issues, and the role of citizens. Our goal is to inspire every person to find their voice and to help young people develop critical skills for tackling the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
It all started more than 50 years ago…
During a tumultuous time of protest brought about by the Vietnam War, Steve Janger saw a growing cynicism among youth nationwide about our government and its policies. Driven by a desire to help young people gain a better understanding of government, Steve founded the Close Up Foundation in 1971, the same year the 26th Amendment gave 18-year-olds the right to vote.
Close Up was built on the idea that young people from all backgrounds need a comprehensive understanding of the democratic process and their responsibilities as citizens. The concept was simple: give students the opportunity to directly engage with the people and institutions that represent our democracy, and they will develop the skills and attitudes they need for a lifetime of active citizenship.
The first Close Up program in 1971 included 554 students from Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas. Among them was Timothy S. Davis of Tulsa, who was so impacted by the experience that he would return to the Foundation to serve as CEO and president from 2005 until his retirement in 2022.
Today, Close Up’s civic engagement work reaches students and teachers in more than 2,500 schools nationwide, in all 50 states and the U.S. territories. Our programs and resources help students of all backgrounds and worldviews practice effective citizenship, articulate their own viewpoints, and listen to those of others with tolerance and respect.
I learned that there’s a huge network of people with the same goals and drive as me…
and that our collaboration really could make a difference. It gave me hope for the future of our communities and our nation!
Close Up made me realize how SIGNIFICANT my thoughts and views are…
Although everyone will not always agree, everyone has a voice and needs to be heard.
I think Close Up’s virtual program is an amazing experience…
Close Up is a positive experience for students…
seeing themselves as having the power to influence the democratic process.