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.
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.
Steve Janger, a man dedicated to helping students gain a better understanding of their own government, founded the Close Up Foundation in 1971 and brought the first Close Up group to DC.
Close Up has partnered with Bank of America, the American Bar Association, Georgetown University, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Department of Justice, the State Department, and Freedom Forum to conduct special programs that target special communities and constituents.
Close Up has partnered with American Indian tribes for over 30 years and is proud to offer specialized programs through our collaborations with NCAI, NIEA, and USET.
In 2015, Close Up, alongside the National Council for the Social Studies, the League of Women Voters, CIRCLE, and iCivics, became a founding member of the Alliance for Teaching Democracy to support the work of teachers around the country.
In 1979, Close Up partnered with C-SPAN and appeared on its first-ever broadcast. Since then we have hosted 77 events in the C-SPAN Video Library.
In addition to the students and educators who have participated in Close Up from all 50 U.S. states, five U.S. territories, and the federal district, we have also reached participants from nine other countries.
In 1983, Close Up launched its DC & Williamsburg Program and since then has grown to include programs in Florida, Texas, New York, Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and Hawaii.
In 1987, Close Up launched its first program for recently immigrated and migrant students and continues to serve approximately 2,000 students and teachers each year.
Since 1985, Close Up has participated in seven presidential inaugurations through its Premier Election Series programming.
Close Up participants have had the unique opportunity to meet and discuss current issues with seven U.S. presidents since 1971.
Close Up facilitates more than 1,100 meetings with members of Congress and staff each year for students and teachers.
To help extend our reach to deserving students across the country, approximately 24% of Close Up students receive financial assistance each year.
Close Up’s diverse and fast-growing alumni community includes over 900,000 students and teachers worldwide. Our distinguished alumni have gone on to careers in education, business, and public service. We’re proud to call 12 current and six former members of U.S. Congress Close Up alumni!
Drawing on almost 50 years of experience in issue-centered education and nonpartisan instruction, Close Up has served educators from districts nationwide through its professional development workshops and classroom resources.
Since its founding, Close Up has welcomed students on program without regard to gender, race, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, geographical community, socioeconomic level, or academic standing.