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Close Up Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Education, Media & Communications

Mission: Close Up's mission is to inform, inspire, and empower young people to exercise the rights and accept the responsibilities of citizens in a democracy.

Programs: The overarching goal of all Close Up’s student programs is to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for effective and responsible participation in the processes of democratic society and the American political system. Given that goal, their core commitment to experiential learning becomes clear: Citizenship in a democracy demands a readiness and capacity to act. Close Up’s role in helping students develop that readiness and capacity lies in direct exposure to the historical foundations, institutional structures, and day-to-day practices that underlie reasoned discourse, debate and cooperative decision-making. Close Up’s program offerings include: their flagship Washington Program, a Program for New Americans specifically designed for recently-immigrated students, an Asia Pacific Program set in Hawaii where students discuss foreign policy issues in depth, the Founding of a Nation program where students visit five historic East Coast sites, and a Teacher Program that runs parallel to each of their student offerings. Since 1971, more than 850,000 students and educators have participated in Close Up's weeklong government studies programs in the nation's capital. Each year, more than 20,000 participants partake in Close Up's Washington, D.C.-based programs, while thousands more across the country utilize the organization’s in-class resources. They see the primary role of the Close Up experience as complementary to classroom civic learning; their part is to take learning out of the book and place it in the lived experience of the student. In order to move from the conceptual basis of civic education to an empowering engagement with the concrete processes and controversies of contemporary politics, Close Up provides students with practical opportunities to experience for themselves the problems and prospects of political activity. Close Up’s teaching methodology and participant diversity more accurately reflects what students will face in their adult lives and is unlike anything that could be simulated in a classroom. More information on Close Up programs can be found on its Web site (www.closeup.org).

Community Stories

5 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Board Member

Rating: 5

The Union City Lions Club from Union City California, is a proud sponsor for the Close Up Foundation, through their office in Oakland California. Through the Foundation we are honored to sponsor students from the local High School(s) so they may travel from the West Coast to experience our government in action, first hand and Close Up, in Washington D.C. Base on the testimonials from those students attending the program in Washington D.C., they returned with a broader base of knowledge of governance; and, although we hold different perspectives of how to govern and what the government should do for the people of this great country, our students realized that no point of view is wrong, just different and worthy of consideration! We strongly encourage other organizations consider donating to the Close Up Foundation, and lets start helping our youth develop into great leaders of tomorrow. Your support is good for our communities, our Country and the World! Quite honestly, it is the right thing to do.



Rating: 5

I am a teacher at Fair Park Preparatory Academy. Fair Park is an inner city middle school in Shreveport, Louisiana. The large majority of our students have never traveled outside of their neighborhoods, much less our city limits. We were fortunate to attend Close Up this year with the help of a couple of organizations and many generous community members. We raised 100% of the funds for eleven of our scholars to attend the Close Up program with the assistance of Volunteers for Youth Justice and Louisiana Association of Non-Profits Change Fund. Our students had the experience of a lifetime! It was amazing to watch my students lead their groups during a mock Congress and be filled with the confidence most of them were lacking. They were able to meet children from all over the country that they would have never had an opportunity to meet. It is hard for me to put into words the feeling of seeing my students having lessons and meaningful discussions about our history and our government at the many different monuments/museums they were able to visit. Wow! What an experience!
On our return, several of the students made the decision to attend a local high school that offers a law magnet program. The Close-Up program inspired them! I believe this experience has shown my students they are capable of great things. They just needed the exposure to this type of opportunity. It inspired me as an educator as well. Upon our return from our trip, I worked with Volunteers for Youth Justice as they sponsored a summer law symposium taught by local attorneys. Many of our students attended. As you can see, our involvement with the Close Up Foundation has had a ripple effect. The way to change our communities is to change the mind set of our youth and I believe the Close Up program helps do just that. It helped open their minds that they can make a difference. Our Close-Up representative guided us through the entire process. We look forward to bringing more students next year!

1 Jennifer U.1


Rating: 5

The Rotary Club of Downtown Los Angeles is a proud supporter of the Close Up Foundation. We have helped fund students from Camino Nuevo Charter Academy of Los Angeles to visit Washington DC for an immersive experience in civic education. We applaud the Close Up Foundation for their great work in empowering future generations to be informed and engaged in the work of U.S. democracy. Special gratitude to staff member Eleanor Vogelsang who's been an excellent point of contact for our club with the Foundation!

Review from Guidestar

2 Daphne E.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Close Up Foundation has changed my life and that of my students. It is a real interactive experience. My students have become more involved and more interested in politics and awareness of civic issues because of their experience with Close Up. I have had students who want to go on the trip more than once. They go as a sophomore and want to go again as a junior or senior.
It has changed how I teach and how I approach teaching to make it more of an experience. Close Up gives teachers so many resources to help in the classroom. I highly recommend Close Up for your ultimate DC experience.

Review from Guidestar


General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

This organization is exceptionally poorly run and has struggled financially for years, while paying their CEO and other executives bloated salaries (The CEO took, in three years of the organization running 6-figure deficits, $50k/year in BONUS money, on top of a $200k base salary. This is plainly seen on their 990 forms.) This organization is largely "fee-for-service" so that school children often fundraise for years for a chance to come on a "Close Up Trip" to Washington DC. It is unconscionable that anyone give money to such an organization that has demonstrably failed in it's mission, and cannot get its financial house in order. There are other, smaller, civics education organizations out there where school children are not asked to fundraise to cover bloated executive salaries.

Review from Guidestar