June 20, 2024
Read time : 7 min

The Up To Us Leadership Bootcamp, organized by Net Impact, is a dynamic program designed to empower emerging student leaders with the skills and knowledge necessary to drive meaningful change in their communities. This year's two-day bootcamp was held in February in Washington, D.C., and provided a platform for students to delve into critical topics such as fiscal policy and community organizing, fostering a collaborative environment where innovative ideas and solutions can flourish, taking the first step toward meaningful societal change.


One of the key components of the Leadership Bootcamp was the Community Action Event, where participants were tasked with organizing an event that showcased their leadership capabilities and the insights gained from the bootcamp. These events were a true testament to the students' dedication to making a difference and their ability to implement practical solutions to real-world issues. In this short highlight blog, we spotlight some of the standout projects from this year's program.


In the Spotlight: The Up To Us Leadership Bootcamp's Brightest


Abigail Langschwager, Indiana University

Abigail Langschwager organized a compelling Zoom event addressing the challenges in early education in Southern Indiana. This half-hour discussion brought together passionate participants who critically assessed the current state of challenges of early education and proposed actionable solutions. The conversation highlighted significant issues such as limited access to quality programs and resource disparities among different neighborhoods.


The event evolved into a brainstorming session, where diverse ideas emerged to foster positive change. Some key suggestions made included advocating for increased funding for preschool programs and enhancing parent engagement through workshops. As well, collaboration among schools, community organizations, and policymakers was identified as crucial for enacting comprehensive reforms. The event concluded on an optimistic note, with attendees united in their commitment to nurturing every child's potential in Southern Indiana, sparking a movement dedicated to improving early education.


Wajiha Mekki, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Wajiha Mekki had the opportunity to deliver a keynote speech at the UAB Honors College Blazing Frontiers Conference. Her speech focused on healthcare disparities and the role of fiscal policy in reducing these long-term inequalities in America. With an audience that included deans and associate deans from across the campus, Mekki's presentation underscored the importance of addressing fiscal policies to create a more equitable healthcare system. Her insights into the intersection of fiscal policy and healthcare disparities resonated with attendees, emphasizing the effective impact that informed policy-making can have on public health.


Tex Wambui, Clark Atlanta University

Tex Wambui organized an innovative event on April 13th, 2024, aimed at blending interactive elements with education on fiscal policy. Despite facing the challenge of low student participation due to the election season, Tex pivoted the event to focus on competition among student-run businesses. These businesses were tasked with presenting their products or services while elucidating their fiscal strategies, including financial management, tax navigation, and economic sustainability.


The event also emphasized the link between fiscal policy and mental health, encouraging businesses to demonstrate how their operations supported mental health awareness and resilience. The winning business, Healthy Juices, impressed judges with its sound financial management and commitment to mental health advocacy, setting a precedent for socially impactful entrepreneurship. This event showcased innovative approaches to fiscal responsibility and community engagement, highlighting the potential for student-led initiatives to drive significant change.


Sunint Bindra, Dartmouth College

Sunint Bindra hosted an interactive Fiscal Policy Simulation event aimed at educating participants about fiscal policy issues and fostering civic engagement. The series of activities simulated the policymaking process with a focus on real-world scenarios and budget constraints. Teams were created to represent different interest groups and political parties, and worked to propose policies while considering fiscal implications. Facilitators provided guidance and introduced unexpected challenges to simulate the complexities of policymaking. The event also included a speaker panel discussion with experts offering insights into current policy issues and the importance of advocacy. Participants left the event with a deeper understanding of fiscal policy issues, excitement for continued dialogue and collaboration, and inspiration to become more actively involved in advocacy efforts.


Final Remarks

The Up To Us Leadership Bootcamp has once again demonstrated the incredible potential of student leaders to drive positive change in their communities. The projects highlighted here are just a few examples of the innovative and impactful work participants have been engaging in. These events not only showcase the students' leadership skills but also their commitment to addressing critical issues through informed and collaborative approaches.


For students who are passionate about becoming policy change-makers, we encourage you to stay tuned for the next competition. The Up To Us Leadership Bootcamp offers a unique opportunity to develop your skills, connect with like-minded peers, and make a tangible impact on your community. Together, we can build a brighter, more equitable future.