Up to Us Campus Competition

Up to Us enables students to give our generation a voice.

Through the annual competition, select teams from colleges and universities nation-wide receive training and funds to run tailored campus campaigns to educate their peers and inspire collective action! Prizes include $10,000 and paid trips to world-class conferences, among others.

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Up to Us Is a Movement

We are a movement of a generation, for a generation! Raising awareness and taking action to ensure a strong future by addressing our nation’s fiscal challenges

How it works

A semester of action. A lifetime of skills.

Up to Us is a program that empowers students to educate peers on our long-term national debt, how it could affect their economic opportunities, and what our generation can do to have a voice in raising awareness of our fiscal challenges!

What are the benefits of joining the Competition?

Continue the movement! By joining this cohort of emerging leaders, you can help shape the economic future our generation will ultimately inherit. Up to Us offers you the opportunity to be the voice of your generation and to create a meaningful impact on your campus community.

  • Access to leadership and project management training through live trainings and at your fingertips through our Crew2030 platform means you can develop your skills when, where, and how you want!
  • High impact events like our nation-wide My Two Cents Day, paired with opportunities to flex your creative arm through a custom “Wildcard” event, make executing an impactful campus campaign easier and more exciting than ever.
  • Unparalleled access to thought-leaders in public policy, fiscal policy, social entrepreneurship, and more, as well as an opportunity to meet your peers and fellow emerging leaders.
  • Enhanced prizes give you the chance to earn resume-building experiences and opportunities, access to cash prized, and so much more.

What is the time commitment?

Time commitment is minimal and flexible based on the impact you are hoping to create. While the time per week does change by participant/team, successful competitors should look to commit 2-4 hours a week for the duration of the competition.

Now-February 5: Confirm your participation in Campus Competition
February-March: Receive weekly leadership and campaign management training
March 1-3: Attend the Up to Us training in Oakland, CA
March 8-April 12: Host your My Two Cents Day and Wildcard Activity
April 12: Final Report due
April 2019: Top teams announced

Training Team Leaders will travel to Oakland, CA March 1st-3rd for formal training. Travel and lodging will be covered. 

How will campaigns be judged?

Student campaigns will be judged by competition organizers and a diverse panel. Campaigns will be scored on a variety of criteria including the success of key campaign activities and the creativity and vision behind those activities.

"My overall experience with Up to Us was amazing and I learned a lot of valuable information about the national debt and career skills I can use in future positions."

Jordan Kenny
San Francisco State University
Jordan Kenny SFSU

Past Winners

Launched in 2012, Up to Us started as a pilot program on 10 college campuses and has since reached more than 225,000 students on more than 400 unique campuses in all 50 states. Each year, one team prevails as the Competition winner, walking away with $10,000 and national recognition for their efforts. Do you have what it takes to win? Apply today

2018 - 2019 Winner: Oakland University (MI)

The winning team from Oakland Univeristy in Rochester, Michigan, partnered with dozens of OU student organizations to expand their reach and engaged hundreds of students on the national debt through voter registration drives, classroom presentations, media partnerships and creative events. The team integrated the idea of being “fiscally fit” into their conversations and presentations. The Oakland team created a boot camp that allowed students to test their physical fitness before taking a fiscal fitness test; held a pledge signature drive that used a giant beach ball as a visual representation of inflation; and led a national debt awareness parade through the Oakland campus. For the finale, the team hosted an Ultimate Fiscal Fitness Challenge featuring a gameshow-style competition between student leaders, allowing them to show off their new-found fiscal knowledge and explain why young people should care about the national debt.

2017 - 2018 Winner: SUNY Old Westbury

The winning team from State University of New York (SUNY) at Old Westbury was led by junior Evan Rufrano. He led his team in a creative campaign that included creating a "Debt Boulevard" on campus - an interactive walkway of fiscal policy and national debt statistics. The team also hosted an interactive lecture series with distinguished professors and a debate with a panel of speakers across the political spectrum. One of Evan's takeaways from the experience was "This issue will impact our future, but the debate about the national debt too often omits the voices of young people. Through this Competition we were able to amplify the voice of our generation, calling on lawmakers to make responsible fiscal decisions today that will preapre us for a better tomorrow."

2016 - 2017 Winner: Jackson State University

The winning team from Jackson State University was led by Terrence Dillon, a junior, originally from Chicago, Ill. Leveraging the popularity of beloved television game shows, the Jackson State University team hosted events such as “Debt Jeopardy,” “Wheel of Debt,” the “Debt is Right,” and other interactive game nights to explain the current fiscal situation to nearly 1,000 of their peers throughout the course of the competition. Read More

2015 - 2016 Winner: College of William & Mary

The William & Mary team members include Sruveera Sathi (team leader), Hannah Cannon, Aastha Uprety, Octavia Goodman and Merci Best. The team’s innovative campaign involved several events, including a “Great Debt-bate” that brought together four political groups on campus to discuss fiscal policy, a dance workshop to “dance the debt away,” and a forum featuring young innovators in the fields of healthcare, education, and defense. To promote their campaign, the team employed creative methods such as a “Money doesn’t grow on trees” art installation, in which they hung fake dollar bills with educational facts about the national debt on trees around campus. The team also traveled to the Virginia state capitol as part of a larger school effort to meet with the governor and state senators. Read More

2014 - 2015 Winner: Stockton University

The Stockton University team members include Angelo Bechara (team leader), Maryam Sarhan, Brad Ross, Louis Chevere and Victoria Muraoka. The team’s innovative campaign included a life-sized Monopoly game, a “dorm storm” in which team members brought fiscal awareness to students directly in their on-campus residences, appearances on local radio shows, and a visit to Capitol Hill to meet with a Congressman representing their state. Read More

2013 - 2014 Winner: University of Texas - Pan American

The five-student team, lead by Fabiola Urgel Santa-Ana, from the University of Texas - Pan American (now The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley). “I told my team that we are so going to win this, so everyone will know about UTPA and where Edinburg is,” Urgel said. “That win gave me the sense that, if I did this, imagine what I can accomplish. It opens your eyes to more things, widens your potential and gives you strength, a sense that I can conquer the world, or at least to recognize all the possibilities in front of me.”

2012 - 2013 Winner: University of Virgina

The U.Va. students – Lena Shi, Joshua Lansford, Alan Safferson, Ryan Singel and Amara Warren – created a dynamic and innovative campaign to earn them the first-ever winning spot. The team spent roughly 550 hours organizing 20 major events, including a rally at the Rotunda; a “HOOs Talking about the National Debt" discussion led by three faculty experts; screening a documentary film about the debt, “I.O.U.S.A.”; four flash seminars, each led by a U.Va. professor; a dinner on health care spending; presentations to classes and student groups; and a savings workshop, to name a few. 

The team brought U.S. Sen. Mark Warner to U.Va. on Feb. 11 to discuss the debt. After speaking with a crowd of more than 500 people, Warner, a Virginia Democrat who sits on the Senate Budget Committee, praised the team as an example of what college students can achieve, saying, “The U.Va. students got me energized, ready to go back to the Hill and keep fighting.”

Prizes & Awards

During the Up to Us competition, students build critical skills in leadership, strategy development, and community engagement. The experience also serves as an impressive resume builder. In case that’s not enough, the competition offers students the opportunity to take advantage of prizes like all-expenses-paid trips, access to policy leaders, paid internships, and more.

Campaign Funding & Cash Prizes

Every student/team who competes in the Up to Us Campus Competition will receive the necessary funding to execute creative and effective campaigns. $10,000 will be awarded to the winning team in addition to cash prizes awarded to top-performing runner-up teams. All teams who successfully execute their campaigns gain access to exclusive prizes, experiences, and more.


Team Leaders will attend the Up to Us Leadership Training in Oakland, CA on March 1-3, 2019 for formal training. Travel and lodging will be covered.

National Conferences & All-expenses-paid Trips

A select group of top-performing students will be invited to travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with policy organizations, civic groups, and leaders from across the political spectrum to discuss the next generation's stake in fiscal issues, and attend the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s Fiscal Summit.

The core members of the winning team will be invited to attend a national conference, where their achievement will be formally announced and recognized.

Travel, food, lodging, and conference fees will be covered.

Exclusive Internships

Students on teams that successfully execute their campaigns will be eligible to apply for exclusive internship opportunities through Net Impact the Reagan Foundation's Leadership and the American Presidency Program

The paid internship through Net Impact in Oakland, CA allows up to two student leaders an opportunity to learn in areas of focus including nonprofit management, program management, digital marketing, community outreach and management, and more. The paid internship includes a stipend for lodging and runs through summer 2019.

New this year, up to five Up to Us leaders will have the opportunity to join the Leadership and the American Presidency program in Washington, DC to interact with and learn valuable insight from top names in government, business, and nonprofit organizations. Your LTAP experience includes housing arrangements, internship placement aligned with individual interests, course credit with transfer options to home institutions, access to exclusive briefings, events and more.

Rules & FAQs

Who can apply?

Students enrolled at a college or university in the United States are welcome to apply to participate in Up to Us. 

To receive prize money, each participant must have a valid tax ID number and be at least 18 years old. (Exceptions: if your state of residence is Alabama or Nebraska, you must be at least 19 years old; if your state of residence is Mississippi, you must be at least 21 years old), and must be at least 18 years old at the time of travel in order to attend conferences or other trips.

Not a current student on a college campus? There are more ways to engage and make an impact. Consider signing the pledge and hosting an event in your community.

Employees of Net Impact, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, CGIU and members of their immediate family, defined as parents, children, siblings, and spouse and/or those living in the same household are not eligible to participate.

Can more than one team per school apply?

At this time, no more than one team per school will be selected to participate. We will help to connect students and faculty from a single school who may have applied separately. Students may want to utilize school communication channels to identify other students who may want to form a team.

How many members can each team have?

It is encouraged to have at least 3 team members. A Campus Advisor is required. Additionally, successful teams can enlist support beyond core team members. The core team members must be enrolled in classes at the same school.

Is there a partisan-based political agenda?

Absolutely not. While the topics are political in nature, Up to Us remains non-partisan and encourages collaboration no matter where you stand politically. The purpose of Up to Us is to raise awareness of our country’s long-term fiscal challenges and how they could affect our economic future and to encourage students to make their voices heard on these critical issues. The competition is the product of a partnership between three nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations dedicated to engaging the next generation of leaders on important issues.

More questions?

If you were not able to find the answer to your question on this page, please contact us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

There are no sides, only solutions in the Up to Us movement

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