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Civic Nation

Acquia Engage Award 2016 Finalist

Civic Nation


In the summer of 2015, the White House approached digital agency Huge to help get more young Americans connected with the federal programs designed to help them. We set out to create a centralized portal that makes it easier to register for programs like FAFSA, the Free Application for Financial Student Aid.

After a detailed discovery phase, Huge learned the real challenge wasn’t awareness, it was the “why, how and when” portion that stumped students. They didn’t need another online destination to accomplish their goals, they needed someone to remind them what to do, how to do it and — most importantly — when.


To solve for these challangs, the team at Huge created Up Next, a notification system that communicates the way Gen Z does: via SMS. All a user needs is a mobile number to sign up. Then, after answering a few simple questions, Up Next does the rest. When it’s time for a task to be completed, a text is sent to the user’s phone. Each text links the user to details on Up Next’s responsive, Drupal-driven website. The page explains what the task is, why it’s important and how to get it done.

Huge also created a toolkit to help school counselors and other partners promote the program. The toolkit contains a short tutorial about the program as well as pamphlets and posters to share with students themselves.

Up Next is designed to grow with this generation. As users’ needs shift throughout adulthood, Up Next will scale as well, offering information and support about any relevant programs — including ones that don’t exist yet.


Up Next is now an integral part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher initiative, a program designed to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future through higher education.

To date, Up Next is the first anticipatory text-based digital service from the Federal government. By proactively reaching out to Americans with relevant, timely information, this marks a significant shift from a more passive, bureaucratic process. The White House sees it as an example of how the government can and should be serving its citizens of the future.

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Civic Nation