College Students Chosen for Nationwide Competition Declare It’s "Up to Us" to Focus Attention on America's Growing National Debt

Dec 5, 2012


Contact: Christina Saull, (202) 518-6480

WASHINGTON, DC — A new competition launched today by the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), Net Impact and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation challenges some of America’s brightest college and graduate students to get active in increasing awareness and engagement among their peers on an issue critical to their future — the nation's unsustainable long-term fiscal path.

"The students participating in this year's challenge represent the next generation of leaders, young people who have the resources and resolve to deal with the nation's long-term debt problem," said President Clinton. "Instead of waiting for it to compromise their futures, these young people are taking the initiative to effect change today."

After a competitive, nationwide application process, 11 student teams from around the country were selected to participate in the competition:

  • American University
  • Brown University
  • Georgetown University
  • New York University
  • Rutgers Business School-Newark
  • University of California-Berkeley
  • University of Miami
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • University of Texas-Austin
  • University of Virginia-Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy

Each student team of up to five core members will develop a campaign to educate and engage their campus community on America's debt crisis and how it could impact their future. At the end of the six-week campaign, each team will be assessed by a panel of judges on its effectiveness at raising awareness, increasing personal connections, and inspiring action on campus and beyond. Campus campaigns will run from Jan. 21-March 1, 2013. The winning team will be awarded a $10,000 cash prize, in addition to being recognized by President Clinton at CGI U 2013. More detail on judges and prizes will be released in the coming weeks.

"I started our foundation because I was fortunate to benefit greatly from the American Dream, and I want to make sure that the same opportunities are available for future generations," said Pete Peterson, founder and Chairman of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. “Today’s young people have the most at stake in our fiscal future — they are the generation that has the most to lose on our current course, and the most to gain by solving America’s long-term fiscal challenges. This project provides young people a platform for action, and a way for them to learn about the issues, share that knowledge, and build a movement for a better future."

Budget experts agree that if the gap between federal revenue and spending is not reduced over the next 30 years, there will be serious consequences for our long-run growth and economic stability. Many economists believe that a debt-to-GDP ratio of 60 percent or less is a desirable fiscal goal. The U.S. public debt is currently at 70 percent and the Congressional Budget Office predicts, under current policy, it will climb to nearly 100 percent of GDP by 2024 and more than 200 percent by 2040.

"I'm excited to see the creative ways that these talented young leaders will energize their campuses and their communities to start focusing on the debt crisis," said Liz Maw, Chief Executive Officer of Net Impact, a leading global nonprofit that empowers a new generation of leaders to work for a sustainable future. "I have no doubt that they're going to help bring their generation’s voice to this important issue."

See the latest Up To Us student actions at, where teams display results, post video, amd measure and demonstrate their impact, as well as monitor Facebook and Twitter activity surrounding their campaigns.

About Up to Us
Up to Us, a nationwide campus competition sponsored and managed by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative University and Net Impact, provides an opportunity for students to build a movement to raise awareness and engagement on America's long-term fiscal and economic challenges. Eleven student teams selected from across the country compete to design and run thought-provoking, fun and impactful campaigns around the effects of rising debt on economic opportunity and investment in the future.

What Does the Debt Mean for Our Future?

We all have a responsibility to build a brighter fiscal and economic future for the next generation.

National Debt Clock

See the latest numbers and learn more about the causes of our high and rising debt.