July 16, 2020
Read time : 6 min

What does it take to win the Up to Us Campus Competition? Just ask one of the 20 teams of student leaders selected as finalists! 

This year’s finalists include a diverse group of students from community colleges and universities across the country. Using the tools and resources they gained through Up to Us webinars and trainings, each team designed and implemented a nonpartisan awareness campaign to engage their peers in a conversation about their generation’s fiscal future.  This cohort of students represents the next generation of talented, civically engaged leaders who understand the importance of working across party lines to address pressing challenges.

Are you curious to know what it takes to be a finalist in the national Up to Us Campus Competition? Then continue reading for a few highlights from five of this year’s finalists: 

  • The winning team from Mesa Community College (Mesa, AZ) engaged more than 50 percent of their fellow students on campus with creative events including a Halloween-themed “National Debt House of Horrors” and the production of a satirical skit that imagined the world in 2032 if the nation’s debt continues to skyrocket.
  • The team at Baruch College (New York, NY) led a “Walk of Debt” from the Charging Bull sculpture in the Financial District to Midtown Manhattan, holding posters and engaging a diverse audience in dialogue about the national debt.
  • The team at Bergen Community College (Paramus, NJ) developed targeted educational presentations for various campus groups and hosted a dialogue on the national debt with the Chair of the Commerce and Economic Development Committee for New Jersey.
  • The team at College of Mount Saint Vincent (Bronx, NY) partnered with campus organizations to create the college’s first ever interdisciplinary student research center, which will allow students to conduct original research on the impact of fiscal policy on various issues that they’re passionate about.  
  • The team at Gateway Community College (New Haven, CT) incorporated an imaginative pirate-themed event in which students played a “Fiscal Ship” game while discussing the rising sea of the national debt.

As part of their prize for being selected as Year 8 Campus Competition finalists, members of all top 20 teams attended a series of virtual events where they were recognized and heard from expert speakers including Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and Sheila Bair, the 19th Chair of the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Additionally, students from finalist teams are eligible to apply for three reserved scholarships to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute’s prestigious Leadership and the American Presidency (LTAP) program as an additional prize.

The complete list of 2019-2020 Up to Us Campus Competition finalists include:

  • Baruch College
  • Bergen Community College
  • Central Texas College
  • College of Mount Saint Vincent
  • Concordia College
  • Gateway Community College
  • Jarvis Christian College
  • Manchester University
  • Mesa Community College (*Winner)
  • Miami Dade College, Homestead Campus
  • Miami Dade College, Padron Campus
  • Northeastern Illinois University
  • Oklahoma Christian University
  • Texas State University
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
  • Wells College
  • West Liberty University
  • Worcester State University
  • Yale University

All 20 finalists executed their campaigns during the fall 2019 semester. Up to Us Campus Competition teams participating during the spring 2020 semester were not officially judged due to campus closures related to Covid-19, but many still found innovative ways to engage their peers virtually while adjusting messaging to address how the public health crisis has impacted the economy. These participating spring teams employed creative and adaptive strategies to inspire engagement and discussion on the nation’s fiscal trajectory, including virtual classroom presentations, guest speaker videos, social media challenges, and interactive live video sessions.

To learn more about how to get involved in the movement, or to register a team to participate in the 2020-2021 Campus Competition, visit www.itsuptous.org.