Close Up and A Starting Point Host Students for White House Q&A

January 31, 2024 by Maura O’Brien

WASHINGTON—The Close Up Foundation partnered with A Starting Point (ASP) to bring students from Maryland and Virginia to the White House on January 30 for a wide-ranging discussion with administration officials about youth civic engagement and policy priorities relating to energy, the environment, and the economy.

Approximately 60 students and teachers took part in the event, which included remarks by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and a Q&A with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo. ASP’s co-founders, actor and director Chris Evans and actor and director Mark Kassen, moderated the discussion.

“It means a lot to us to be here,” said Kassen. “There’s a lot of people who will be coming of the age where it’s their first chance to participate in democracy officially, and our goal of making sure we can help … demystify government, making people feel it’s a little more accessible, is really important to us.”

Close Up is the official education partner of ASP, a website, app, and media distribution platform that seeks to be an unbiased resource for information and civic engagement. Together, the two organizations created ASP Homeroom to educate students on pressing current issues, bring lawmakers into the classroom, and create interactive learning opportunities.

“We have been working with students for more than 50 years and creating opportunities for them to become informed and engaged citizens,” said Close Up President Mia Charity. “So, a platform like A Starting Point is a great resource for young people to get their first bites of what’s going on in politics and the issues that are impacting their lives and communities.”

Participating in the White House event were 11th- and 12th-graders in two Washington-area school districts: Virginia’s Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) and Maryland’s Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS).

As the second-largest school division in Virginia, PWCS is partnering with Close Up to implement student voice committees in all 14 of its high schools, giving students a place at the table where decisions are made. As part of that effort, Close Up has worked with PWCS students to build community, conduct facilitation training, and lead deliberations about important issues impacting their communities.

Close Up is also a longtime partner of PGCPS, one of the nation’s 20 largest school districts. In 2023-2024, Close Up is facilitating a congressional simulation series for PGCPS high school students, giving them the chance to engage with peers across the county on critical policy issues. Close Up is also partnering with PGCPS to conduct week-long summer civic engagement programs that include meetings with elected officials, workshops on political values and current issues, and college readiness seminars.

Contact us today for more information about partnering with Close Up.

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