Students From Michigan's Oakland University Win Top Prize in Seventh Annual "Up To Us" National Campus Competition

Jun 11, 2019
Julie Walsh
(419) 349-0488
Oakland University’s innovative ‘Fiscally Fit’ campaign to engage students on the nation’s $22 trillion-and-growing debt stood out among more than 100 campus teams nationwide

WASHINGTON, D.C. — 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 Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, is the winner of the seventh annual Up to Us Campus Competition.

In addition to receiving a $10,000 cash prize, campus leaders from Oakland University’s winning team will travel to Washington, D.C. for recognition at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s annual Fiscal Summit . The winning team will also join student representatives from the other top Up to Us teams to meet with legislators on Capitol Hill to share their concerns about the country’s fiscal challenges.

“The creativity and drive of the students involved in this year’s Up to Us Campus Competition leaves no doubt that America’s young people care passionately about the fiscal future and the economy they will inherit,” said Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. “Among more than 100 teams, the winning students from Oakland University demonstrated their own campaign fitness by launching their ‘Fiscally Fit’ drive to mobilize their peers, raise awareness and spark action on behalf of the next generation.”

The team from Oakland University, led by Nathan Pigott (Class of 2020), created a campaign to raise awareness about the national debt and sparked a dialogue about building a sustainable economic future for all Americans. Pigott and his team built their campaign around the slogan “Fiscally Fit,” challenging peers to exercise their minds by educating themselves on the national debt – engaging in activities that incorporated both physical and fiscal fitness challenges. This is the first year that Oakland University has participated in the Campus Competition.

“My teammates and I joined the Up to Us Campus Competition to raise awareness among our peers of the very real challenge that the national debt poses to our generation,” said Pigott. “Our campaign focused on fun and engaging activities to spark interest among students and challenged them to become ‘Fiscally Fit,’ by understanding key facts and figures about the nation’s growing debt and feeling empowered to do something about it – through civic engagement and exercising the right to vote.”

The Oakland University team partnered with numerous other student organizations to expand their reach and engaged hundreds of students through voter registration drives, classroom presentations, media partnerships and creative events. These events included a miniature boot camp that allowed students to test their physical fitness before taking a fiscal fitness test, a pledge signature drive that used a giant beach ball as a visual representation of inflation, and a national debt awareness parade through 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.

The finalists and winner of the 2018-2019 Campus Competition were determined by a panel of judges with expertise spanning civic engagement, economic policy and education: Shai Akabas, Director of Economic Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center; Fatema Basrai, Assistant Director of InnovateHealth at Yale University; Kristen Dupard, JD candidate at Columbia University and double alumnae of the Clinton Global Initiative University; Tony Pennay, Chief Learning Officer at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute; James Roland, Senior Director of Civic and Community Engagement at Emory University; and Nitiya Walker, Founder of Seeds of Fortune.

In addition to Oakland University, the top twenty 2018-2019 Up to Us Campus Competition finalists include:

Barnard College

Binghamton University

Boston University

Chapman University

Claflin University

Kennesaw University

Lynn University

Miami Dade College – Wolfson Campus

Oklahoma Christian University

Pitzer College

San Francisco State University

Schoolcraft College

Southwestern University

State University of New York, Oswego

University of Alaska Anchorage

University of California, Los Angeles

University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

University of Illinois at Chicago

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. Since 2012, Up to Us has created a groundswell of student leaders who’ve engaged and empowered more than 230,000 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.

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