Close Up and the Arizona Cardinals Kick Off Civics Matters Arizona 2024

January 30, 2024 by Maura O’Brien

GLENDALE, Ariz.—Leaders of the Arizona Cardinals, the Close Up Foundation, and Greater Phoenix Leadership (GPL) gathered at State Farm Stadium on January 17 to kick off this year’s Civics Matters Arizona program alongside community partners and elected officials from across the state.

Now in its third year, Civics Matters Arizona is an annual civic engagement initiative that connects Arizona high school students with their peers and with their government. The program, conducted in partnership by the Cardinals, Close Up, GPL, and the office of the Arizona governor, targets a geographically diverse group of high schools and organizations serving Title I communities.

Students in participating schools and organizations take part in an essay contest about the importance of civic engagement, with the winners flying to Washington on the Cardinals’ team plane for an all-expenses-paid summer trip with Close Up. In D.C., students meet with elected officials, participate in issue deliberations, and visit memorials, museums, and government institutions.

New for 2024, the program gives participants an opportunity to stay engaged as Arizona Civic Ambassadors after the trip. Using the MobileServe app, Close Up will provide students with monthly toolkits and guidance to organize their own civic engagement activities in their home communities, as well as earn the Arizona Seal of Civics Literacy for their diploma if they choose.

“Our goal is to continue to think about how we extend the impact of what we’re doing,” said Close Up Chief Innovation and Programs Officer Lindsay Greenberg. “What can students do when they get home? How do we create Civic Ambassadors who can bring what they learned and the enthusiasm and excitement from D.C. back into their schools, back into their local communities?”

Conceived by Cardinals team owner Michael Bidwill, Civics Matters Arizona began in 2022 as an effort to give students a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of their government in action while boosting schools’ focus on civics. In its first two years, the program has impacted more than 2,500 students in over 50 schools through the essay contest, the D.C. trip, and civic engagement classroom curriculum.

“Going on this trip and meeting Sen. [Kyrsten] Sinema, for example, or shaking hands with Gov. [Doug] Ducey or hearing Gov. [Katie] Hobbs, it gives kids this experience that the government is a real thing full of real people,” said Jake Richardson, a two-time participant and social studies department chairman at Empower College Prep in Phoenix. “That sort of word spreads through a small school like mine. You can contact an elected official. They will listen to you and be interested in your ideas to change your community. That definitely makes kids sit up a little straighter in government.”

The Civics Matters Arizona 2024 trip to Washington will take place June 11-14. Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-Ariz.) is among the Arizona leaders and elected officials who will join students for the experience.

For more information, contact us at support@closeup.org.

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