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National Partner Spotlight: The Close Up Foundation

Who are you and what is the Close Up Foundation?

I’m Olivia Dumboski, and I’m an outreach coordinator at the Close Up Foundation. Close Up is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, civic education organization that informs, inspires, and empowers young people to become active participants in our democracy. Since 1971, we’ve served nearly one million students and teachers from all 50 states through experiential civic education programs (in Washington, DC, and in local communities), virtual programs, professional development for teachers, and curriculum and classroom materials that spark civic engagement.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney visits with Close Up students at the U.S. Capitol

Our programs and resources help students of all backgrounds and worldviews practice effective citizenship, articulate their own viewpoints, and listen to those of others with tolerance and respect.

What do you offer to high school and middle school students?

Each year, Close Up partners with 21,000 students and teachers nationwide to provide civic education programming. Our multi-day programs in Washington, DC, are life-changing for high school and middle school students, introducing them to peers from every corner of the United States, public and private schools, and urban and rural communities alike. We use the nation’s capital as a living classroom, guiding students through study visits to monuments, memorials, and museums; meetings with elected officials; and discussions, simulations, and deliberations about the issues they care about. Along the way, students bond with peers of different backgrounds and realize the power they hold as citizens.

In addition to our Washington programs, Close Up runs locally based programs that delve into state government issues, DC programs with special areas of focus (such as our Program for New Americans for recently immigrated and migrant students), and virtual programs for after-school civic engagement.

What do you offer teachers and/or educational leaders?

We partner with teachers at more than 1,200 schools in all 50 states and the U.S. territories. For teachers who bring students to Washington, we offer the Close Up Teacher Program. It’s a fascinating experience that runs parallel to the student program, giving teachers the chance to build a nationwide network, participate in professional development and excursions to historical sites, and earn graduate credits or continuing education units in the process.

In the classroom, we work closely with teachers to help them create community, facilitate meaningful discussion, and encourage the skills and attitudes of citizenship. Our customizable PD trainings draw on our 50 years of expertise to give teachers tools, strategies, and resources to navigate challenging conversations about political and social issues that come up at school. And our classroom resources boost student engagement at school and in the community, helping districts meet civic education and literacy goals. Resources include customized curriculum plans, lesson plans, our Current Issues Resource Library of balanced policy discussions, and our free Current Issues Blog.

How can teachers, schools, and school districts partner with you and connect their students to your programs?

Our civic education programs, PD, and educational resources are available throughout the year. To learn more, email me at, or give us a call at 800-CLOSE-UP!

For students who may have difficulty affording the cost, do you have scholarships or financial aid? Can you describe other ways to help all types of students participate?

Absolutely. Our core belief is that a strong democracy requires engagement by all citizens, so we seek to reach young people from all communities and all backgrounds, regardless of race, religion, gender, socioeconomic level, or academic standing. This is key to creating diverse learning communities in which students of all experiences, worldviews, and political leanings learn with, and from, each other.

Thanks to the generous support of our donor partners, more than 24% of Close Up participants receive financial aid.

Simply email to learn more about financial aid opportunities!

What deadlines are coming up?

There’s still time to sign up for our in-person programs in the spring and summer of 2023 in Washington, DC! Please get in touch with me ( for details

What else should I be asking?

What’s the major takeaway from a Close Up experience? It’s amazing to see what awakens in students after spending a week with us in Washington. For some, it’s a newly found confidence to voice their opinions. For others, it’s an eagerness to vote, to attend a school board meeting, or to start or join a club at school. Their eyes have been opened to their role in the political process, the links between the past and the present, and the different concerns, values, and life experiences of others.

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