Student Leaders Across America Engaged Policymakers, Peers on Pressing Fiscal Challenges

Mar 13, 2024


Student Leaders Across America Engaged Policymakers, Peers on Pressing Fiscal Challenges

New York (March 6) — With the national debt surpassing $34 trillion, interest costs rising to record highs, and growing support for a bipartisan fiscal commission, college students across America are advocating for a more sustainable federal budget. Student leaders from the University of Notre Dame won the 12th annual Up to Us Campus Competition for their creative campaign to raise awareness among their peers and engage policymakers on the need to build a stronger future for the next generation.

“Congratulations to Notre Dame’s winning team and to student leaders across the country who are bringing their energy and ideas to drive a valuable conversation about the national debt and our economic future,” said Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the nonpartisan Peter G. Peterson Foundation. “Students on America’s college campuses are part of a growing chorus for action on the debt that includes the vast majority of voters from both parties. These young leaders have an essential voice in the policy debate about the future economy they will inherit.”

Up to Us, a nonpartisan initiative established in 2012 by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, in partnership with Net Impact and the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU), provides the next generation of civic leaders with resources and training to advocate for a more prosperous and inclusive economic future. Up to Us leaders have engaged and empowered 500,000 students on hundreds of campuses across the country to address U.S. fiscal challenges.

The University of Notre Dame’s winning campaign raised awareness about the national debt and sustainable fiscal policy, culminating in a week of action that reached thousands of students, faculty, and visitors through both in-person and virtual events. The team held lively, themed events, including “Debt Dogs,” a cookout on Library Quad, and “Donuts and Debt,” a breakfast gathering, which brought together hundreds of students for conversation and idea-sharing about Congressional spending, taxes and how to create a sustainable federal budget. Additionally, a “Debt Dunk” event rewarded students who raised awareness about fiscal issues among their peers with an opportunity to dunk professors in a water tank. In addition to in-person events, the team also held two virtual forums to foster dialogue on U.S. fiscal policy. In just a few days, the team’s petition to Congressman Rudy Yakym and Senator Todd Young, titled “Notre Dame, Take Action for a Strong Fiscal Future,” garnered 920 pledge signatures.

Nolan Fletes, Notre Dame Team Leader, said, “When we started having conversations with our classmates about the national debt, we weren’t sure about the reaction we’d get. But when people in our generation learn about the growing debt, and its direct connection to our future, they quickly become interested – and want to get more involved. The most important takeaway from our campaign is that there are many available solutions to this problem, and it’s critical to make your voice heard.”

The winning Notre Dame team will receive a $10,000 prize, invitations to Clinton Global Initiative University events, and other educational opportunities.

The top-10 finalists from this year’s campus competition are:

University of Notre Dame
Berea College
Miami Dade College
Stony Brook University
Central Texas College
Lone Star College Tomball
University of Denver
Mesa Community College
Florida International University
Southeastern Louisiana University

Follow the student-led activities this year using #UpToUs.

About Up to Us
Up to Us is a nonpartisan nationwide college initiative that empowers young Americans leaders to let policymakers know they are concerned about and committed to addressing the nation’s fiscal challenges. Since 2012, Up to Us has created a groundswell of student leaders who have engaged and empowered more than 500,000 of their peers toward a more prosperous fiscal future. Established by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, in partnership with 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.

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