Old Westbury Students Place First in 'Up to Us' National Competition

Up to Us team

In a field of more than 100 collegiate teams nationwide, SUNY Old Westbury's student team recently won the Sixth Annual Up to Us Campus Competition. The nationwide, non-partisan campus-based initiative aims to mobilize young people to promote fiscal responsibility. The team was recognized on stage at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation's annual Fiscal Summit in Washington D.C. on Thursday, May 10, 2018.

“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 Old Westbury, led by junior Evan Rufrano, developed and implemented an imaginative campaign demonstrating the detrimental impact of the current fiscal trajectory. The team comprised of Politics, Economics and Law majors 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 Old Westbury Up to Us team included Rufrano, Josselin Paz Torres, Priscila Ortega, John Holst, Matthew Schmitt, and Professors Thomas DelGiudice and Veronika Dolar.

The finalists and winner of the 2017-2018 Campus Competition were determined by a panel of 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.