May 22, 2018
Read time : 6 min

This May, representatives from each of the top 20 finalist teams of the 2017-2018 Campus Competition embarked on a trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the annual Fiscal Summit and meet with legislators on Capitol Hill and other industry insiders. The week was full of learning, collaborating, and sharing concerns about America’s looming fiscal challenges, which will impact this group’s generation most.

Starting with a monuments tour, Up to Us representatives got a crash course on the rich history the city has to offer and meet or re-connect with other leaders from colleges and universities across the country.The next day, Up to Us had a packed day of meetings with legislators and legislative aides on Capitol Hill including, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Representative Thomas Suozzi (D-NY), and Representative Kathy Castor (D-FL). Themes of the meetings ranged from understanding the Senate Finance Committee and budgeting process to how Congress considers young people in the legislative process. The conversation with Rep. Suozzi, who represents NY and the competition winning team SUNY Old Westbury, talked with students about the challenges when working across the aisle to solve America’s pressing challenges, especially in today’s divisive political era.

On Thursday, May 11, 2018, the 9th annual Peter G. Peterson Foundation Fiscal Summit opened with a video featuring Up to Us students, explaining to the audience why debt matters to the next generation, a theme that remained throughout the day. 

Following the video, CEO and Chairman Michael A. Peterson explained “This year the theme of our fiscal summit is ‘debt matters’ because we thought Washington needed some reminding.” The daylong event, which draws leading lawmakers and policy experts, examined the urgent need for a fiscal reset that puts America on a sustainable course for economic growth and prosperity. 

After morning sessions, Michael A. Peterson returned to stage to announce this year’s Up to Us Campus Competition winning team from SUNY Old Westbury. After talking with team leader Evan Rufrano, Mr. Peterson congratulated the total group saying, “This is what gives us all hope that we will address this in the future - that these young people are all over this.” 

"The time is now to begin making decisions that positively impact our economic state." Evan Rufrano, SUNY Old Westbury

For more about the Fiscal Summit and to watch all the session videos, visit

"Up to Us brings people from all over the spectrum together, to work towards one common goal." Fiorella Riccobono, FSU

On the final day of the trip, Up to Us representatives met with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to get an insider look at both the organizational structure of the agency and how the federal budget outlook reports are created each fiscal year. After hearing about what it’s like to work directly on and with fiscal policy, Up to Us student leaders gained access to a different sector’s perspective of today’s political ecosystem: the media. Students visited POLITICO to not only learn what it is like to report on the fiscal/policy news of the day but to also learn more about how to secure a job in journalism and what is like to work for a news organization. 

The day ended with a career panel featuring young, diverse voices across sectors and issue areas speaking about how to craft careers that impact civil society. In particular, the moderated panel emphasized how to make an impact through social enterprise and NGOs. Speakers featured Neha Misra, CEO of Solar Sister, an Avon-style female-driven sales model to expand access to solar power in Africa; Chike Aguh, CEO of EveryoneOn, which seeks to shrink the digital access divide in the U.S.; and Meghan Ogilvie, CEO of Dog Tag Inc, which creates dignified employment opportunities for disabled combat veterans and their families.


As the week came to a close, so did the 6th annual Up to Us Campus Competition. This year was the biggest yet bringing the total program to more than 400 campuses, engaging more than 200,000 young people!

Are you interested in getting involved? We are now accepting applications for the 2018-2019 Campus Competition! For early bird access to funding, training, and swag commit by July 1. Apply here