University of Texas-Pan American Takes Top Prize for Campaign to Inspire Action on our National Debt

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March 18, 2014
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Contact: Christina Saull, (202) 518-6480 christina.saull@widmeyer.com
2nd Annual ‘Up to Us’ Nationwide College Competition Gives Youth a Voice in our Fiscal Future
22 Teams From Across Country Designed Innovative Plans
Winning Team from University of Texas-Pan American Will be Recognized by President Clinton at CGI University 2014, Receive $10,000 Prize

WASHINGTON, DC — Five students from The University of Texas-Pan American have been awarded first prize in the nationwide 2014 Up to Us campus competition — a five-week challenge that gives a voice to young leaders on fiscal issues. Twenty-two student-led teams from across the country designed plans to educate, engage and inspire action on the challenges the nation faces from rising long-term debt. The students from University of Texas-Pan American will be recognized by President Bill Clinton at this year’s CGI University meeting, to be held March 21-23 at Arizona State University in Phoenix and will be awarded a $10,000 cash prize. The annual competition is sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) and Net Impact.

"The Up to Us competition has proven, for the second year, that young people are passionate about raising awareness around our nation’s economic challenges," said President Bill Clinton. "As the winning team from The University of Texas-Pan American has demonstrated, these students have good ideas and a unique perspective that deserve serious consideration."

The 2014 Up to Us teams engaged their peers in broad discussions about the nation’s fiscal health, holding a total of nearly 100 campus events focused on these issues, including:

  • Hosting a U.S. Senator or Congressman on campus to address the nation’s long-term fiscal challenges, through in-person presentations and videos.
  • Convening students on campus to lead civic engagement activities, such as sending petitions, postcards and letters to elected officials.
  • Visiting local high schools and community centers to raise awareness about the nation’s rising debt in the larger community.

Nearly 19,000 students participated in these events, and the teams partnered with more than 240 other campus groups during the five-week competition. Students used digital tools to enhance their campaigns with over 8,500 students taking a Facebook quiz on the nation’s budget and over 13,000 people viewing student produced YouTube videos on the debt.

The entries were evaluated by an esteemed panel of competition judges, including Chelsea Clinton, Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation; Kent Conrad, former U.S. Senator and former Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee; Betty Liu, journalist and anchor of Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop;” Olympia Snowe, former U.S. Senator and Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center; and George Stephanopoulos, anchor of ABC’s “This Week” and “Good Morning America."

"These outstanding student teams have demonstrated once again that millennials have a critical role to play in shaping our fiscal future,” said Peter G. Peterson, founder and chairman of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. "Their strong voices and innovative ideas are essential, and policymakers should listen closely as they consider choices that ultimately will affect the next generation and the economic opportunities available to them."

The University of Texas-Pan American team members included Fabiola Urgel (team leader), Christopher Villarreal, Luis Basurto, Edna Pulido and Carlos Aguayo. Their most successful events included: a kickoff panel discussion on the national debt with Texas State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, the Provost of the University, the Dean of the College of Business Administration and the President of the Student Government Association; a campaign to educate area high school students and their parents on fiscal issues through well-attended seminars and classroom visits; and performing an original play about the national debt that was attended by more than 200 people.

Five prizes of $2,500 each were also rewarded to the following schools for their successful work in several categories:

  • Participant Engagement (highest number of students engaged via Facebook, events and civic engagement): University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Creativity: Rice University
  • Extended Reach (beyond students on campus): Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Rules & Participation (adherence to campaign parameters and best use of programmatic resources): Northwestern University
  • Building Awareness (best use of content for fiscal education): University of Texas at Austin

"All the teams involved in this year’s competition rose to the occasion and executed fantastic campaigns," said Liz Maw, chief executive officer of Net Impact, a nonprofit that inspires a new generation of leaders to work for a sustainable future. "The conversations they brought to campus engaged their peers on a personal level and brought awareness to a complicated yet crucial issue."

Student teams from the following universities participated in the competition:

  • Bellarmine University
  • Belmont University
  • California State University, Fullerton
  • Duke University
  • George Washington University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Luther College
  • Miami University
  • New York University
  • Northwestern University
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Pace University
  • Rice University
  • The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
  • Tufts University
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Michigan
  • University of New Mexico
  • University of Tennessee
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Texas-Pan American
  • West Virginia Wesleyan College

More information about the competition can be found at www.itsuptous.org.

About Up to Us
Up to Us, a nationwide campus competition sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) 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. Twenty-two 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 America’s future.

About the Peter G. Peterson Foundation
The Peter G. Peterson Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan organization established by Pete Peterson — businessman, philanthropist and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce. The Foundation is dedicated to increasing public awareness of the nature and urgency of key long-term fiscal challenges threatening America's future and to accelerating action on them. To address these challenges successfully, we work to bring Americans together to find and implement sensible, long-term solutions that transcend age, party lines and ideological divides in order to achieve real results. To learn more, please visit www.pgpf.org.

About CGI U
The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) brings together college students to address global challenges with practical, innovative solutions. CGI U participants do more than simply discuss problems — they take concrete steps to solve them by creating action plans, building relationships, participating in hands-on workshops, and following up with CGI U as they complete their projects. Since 2008, students have made more than 4,000 Commitments to Action. Previous CGI U meetings have taken place at Tulane University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Miami, the University of California at San Diego, the George Washington University, and Washington University in St. Louis, and have convened more than 5,500 students from over 800 schools, 130 countries, and all 50 states. To learn more, visit cgiu.org.

About Net Impact
Net Impact is a leading nonprofit that inspires a new generation to use their careers to tackle the world's toughest social and environmental problems. Net Impact empowers student and professional leaders to act locally through their vibrant chapter network and connect globally online and through their annual flagship conference. By 2020, Net Impact will have mobilized a million new leaders to drive positive change in the workplace and the world. To learn more, visit netimpact.org.

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