Press Release

In a crowded field of more than 100 collegiate teams nationwide, the SUNY at Old Westbury team won with a creative campaign to engage and activate their peers on nation’s $21 trillion debt

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 8, 2018) – Today, Up to Us, the nationwide, non-partisan campus-based initiative that mobilizes young people to promote fiscal sustainability, announced that the student team from State University of New York (SUNY) at Old Westbury won the sixth annual Campus Competition.

As the winners, campus leaders representing the SUNY at Old Westbury team will be recognized on stage at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s annual Fiscal Summit in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, May 10.

In addition, the team will receive a $10,000 cash prize and meet with legislators on Capitol Hill to share their concerns about America’s looming fiscal challenges. Representatives from each of the top 20 finalist teams will also join the winners in Washington.

“With more than 100 energetic teams participating across the nation, the Up to Us Campus Competition leaves no doubt that America’s young people care passionately about the economy they will inherit,” said Michael A. Peterson, Chairman, and CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. “The winning team from SUNY at Old Westbury developed a creative and effective outreach campaign to engage their peers and raise awareness about the growing national debt.  The leadership demonstrated by these young people is essential to building support for a sustainable fiscal future that supports economic growth and opportunity for the next generation.”

Alarmed by the $21 trillion national debt, the winning team from SUNY at Old Westbury, led by junior Evan Rufrano, developed and implemented an imaginative campaign demonstrating the detrimental impact of the current fiscal trajectory. Rufrano and the team engaged hundreds of peers on campus by hosting trivia games that tested attendees’ knowledge of the debt and economic issues. They created an interactive walkway – “Debt Boulevard” – that stretched across campus and helped students learn the facts about fiscal policy with each step. In addition to the on-campus installation, the team organized a bipartisan debate between local elected officials, and a lecture series featuring distinguished professors.

“My teammates and I joined the Up to Us movement because we feel strongly that our peers should be better informed about economic and fiscal sustainability, as our collective future is at stake,” said Rufrano. “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 prepare us for a better tomorrow.”

The finalists and winner of the 2017-2018 Campus Competition were determined by a panel of esteemed judges from public policy and civic organizations including Jenn Graham, Founder, and CEO of Civic Dinners and Aha! Strategy; Gordon Gray, Director of Fiscal Policy at the American Action Forum; Steven Olikara, Founder and President of the Millennial Action Project (MAP); Sruveera Sathi, an alumna of Up to Us and winner of the 2015-2016 Campus Competition, and; Ben Ritz, Director of The Progressive Policy Institute’s Center for Funding America’s Future and an alumnus of Up to Us. In addition to SUNY at Old Westbury, the complete list of 2017-2018 Campus Competition finalists include:

  • Barnard College
  • Boston University
  • Dominican University
  • Florida State University
  • Hobart and Williams Smith College
  • Houston Community College
  • Jackson State University
  • Mesa Community College
  • Middlesex Community College
  • Northeastern Illinois University


  • Oakland Community College
  • Ohio Northern University
  • San Francisco State University
  • Texas State University
  • University of California, Irvine
  • University of Delaware
  • University of South Florida
  • University of Tampa
  • University of Wisconsin

To learn more about the 2017-2018 teams or about how to get involved in the movement, visit

About Up to Us

Up to Us is a movement of a generation, for a generation that lets policymakers know that young Americans are committed to addressing the nation’s fiscal challenges. Over the last six years, Up to Us has created a groundswell of student leaders who’ve engaged and empowered 150,000 of their peers towards a more prosperous fiscal future. Created in partnership with the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) and Net Impact, Up to Us provides the opportunity for students to build a movement to raise awareness and engagement on America’s fiscal challenges, and hosts an annual competition that takes place on college campuses nationwide.



Contact: Julie Walsh (202) 518-6489