Press Release

Next-gen leaders educate and engage college students and policymakers about the impact of U.S. fiscal and economic policy. 

New York — Students from Stony Brook University have been awarded the top prize in the 10th annual Up to Us Campus Competition for their campaign to raise awareness and engagement among peers and policymakers on America's fiscal and economic future. 

The Stony Brook team, led by Julia Brandenstein '22, promoted fiscal sustainability through targeted events, classroom presentations, campus partnerships, and creative social media content that reached more than 10,000 people during the spring 2022 semester, Teammates educated fellow students about the impact of America's $30 trillion and rising national debt, conducted outreach to more than 35 elected officials in New York, and hosted a discussion with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that covered economic equality and the connection between America's fiscal outlook and a stronger economic future. The team also launched a podcast, Dishin' with Democracy, about fiscal, economic, and personal finance issues that featured a conversation with New York legislator Jason Richberg about innovative policy solutions that would transcend partisanship. 

Launched in 2012, Up to Us is a national, nonpartisan college program that sponsors an annual competition to raise awareness of fiscal issues. In taking home this year's top award, Stony Brook's team received a $10,000 cash prize and traveled to Washington D.C., to continue their engagement, meeting with Congressional offices and thought leaders to share their generation's views, discuss the fiscal policy legislative outlook, and explore ways to build careers in public or community service. 

"Congratulations to the young leaders from Stony Brook, who carried out an engaging and creative campaign to take home top prize in this 10th year of the Up to Us Campus Competition," said Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, which funds Up to Us. "Leadership, ideas, and energy from the next generation are sorely needed in today's policy conversation, and the wide range of Up to Us participants from colleges across the country have risen to the challenge. As our national debt rises and interest costs soar, the next generation will be affected more than any other, so it's critical that younger Americans become more involved in the key policy decision that will decide their future."

Since 2012, Up to Us has supported a groundswell of student leaders from across the country who have engaged and empowered more than 475,000 of their peers to work toward a more prosperous fiscal and economic future. Up to Us alumni have gone on to pursue careers as public servants, journalists, policy professionals, and a range of other community or civic leadership roles. 

"Working on the Up to Us competition pushed me and my team. Through thousands of conversations, we were able to accomplish so much for such an important cause," said team leader Brandenstein when asked about her experience in the Campus Competition. "Our Up to Us team demonstrated how all of us can be a force for change to inspire a more fiscally sustainable future." Team member Christopher Magallona added, "Throughout my Up to Us experience, I learned more about how inclusiveness plays into fiscal sustainability, and I was able to engage with a diverse array of perspectives on how we should tackle issues like climate change or healthcare from an economic lens."

The finalists and winners of the 2021-2022 Campus Competition were chosen by independent judges based on their ability to connect with their peers, use of creative strategies, social media efforts, and overall impact of their campaigns. 

The top 10 finalists for this year's competition - which included entries from both the Fall '21 and Spring '22 semesters - were: 

  • University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
  • Baruch College
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Central Texas College (Fall '21)
  • Central Texas College (Spring '22)
  • Northeastern Illinois University
  • Mount Mary University
  • Oklahoma Christian University
  • Stony Brook University (Fall '21)
  • Stony Brook University (Spring '22, overall winner)

"The next generation of leaders is well aware of the issues that impact their collective future. Up to Us, now in its 10th year, continues to provide rising leaders with tools and resources to engage on policy issues and become effective advocates for their own future," said Monica V. Rodrigues, Associate Director, Up to Us. 

To learn more about Up to Us and about how to get involved, visit www.itsuptous.org. 

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About Up to Us

Up to Us is a nonpartisan movement of a generation, for a generation that lets policymakers know that young Americans are committed to addressing the nation's fiscal challenges. Since 2012, Up to us has created a groundswell of student leaders who've engaged and empowered more than 475,000 of their peers toward 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. 

Media Contact: 

Jessica Student, jstudent@netimpact.org