Our Story

Since 1971, nearly one million students and teachers have come to our nation’s capital to experience first-hand the power of the political process and how it affects them.

Students on Close Up speaking with congressman on Capitol Hill in 1980s Shadow

It all started nearly 50 years ago…  

During a tumultuous time brought about by the Vietnam War and anti-war protests, Close Up’s founder Steve Janger saw a growing cynicism amongst young people surrounding American government and policies. Driven by a desire to help young people gain a better understanding of their government, he founded the Close Up Foundation in 1971 – the same year 18-year-olds were granted the right to vote.

Close Up’s mission was built on the idea that young people from all backgrounds need a better understanding of the democratic process and their responsibility as citizens. The concept was simple: give students the opportunity to directly engage with the people, organizations, and institutions that represent our democracy, and they will develop the skills and attitudes they need for a lifetime of active citizenship. Close Up’s first program as a non-partisan organization included 554 students from Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas. This first group of students included Tim Davis, Close Up’s current president and CEO.

Tim’s Close Up experience profoundly impacted his life and brought him full circle back to Close Up to ensure that new generations of young people have the same opportunity he did. Today, our civic engagement organization’s work serves students and teachers from across the country through local and DC-based programs for middle and high school students, professional development for educators, and classroom resources.

Female high school talking at mock congress Shadow

Committed to helping young people find their voice.

Close Up believes a strong democracy requires active and informed participation by all citizens. Our organization is dedicated to helping ensure civic engagement opportunities exist for all students. Each year, Close Up helps students and teachers in 1,500 schools nationwide engage in the democratic process. Through our middle and high school civic education programs, classroom resources, and professional development workshops, we provide authentic learning opportunities that help to cultivate a more informed generation who will make lasting impacts on their communities and, ultimately, our country.