At SUNY Old Westbury and SBU, it’s up to them

Advanced economics: The federal budget, the national debt and other serious economic issues can have a big effect on college students' educational and professional choices, according to the organizers of the Up to Us competition.

A national competition designed to educate collegians on important national economic issues has come to Long Island.

Specifically, to SUNY Old Westbury and Stony Brook University, which have been selected to participate in the 2017-2018 cohort of Up to Us, a national competition that encourages students to spread the word about fiscal policy matters like federal budgets and the national debt – big-ticket items that could have a significant effect on students’ career and life choices.

The exclusive annual competition – launched in 2012 by the New York City-based Peter G. Peterson Foundation, California-based nonprofit Net Impact and the Clinton Global Initiative – is limited to 100 teams nationally. Stony Brook University and SUNY Old Westbury are the only Long Island colleges selected to participate in the 2017-2018 competition.

The goal of the Up to Us contest is twofold: to spread critical knowledge about topics like budgets and deficits, and to accumulate “participation points” through campus-based activities and awareness campaigns, with a shot at the competition’s $25,000 grand prize.

At SUNY Old Westbury, where a six-student team has received a $1,000 stipend from contest organizers to sponsor what the school called “creative nonpartisan events,” team members have created a student survey and are encouraging fellow students to take the “Up to Us pledge” to rack up participation points.

The team – led by Politics, Economics and Law student Evan Rufrano and professors Thomas DelGiudice and Veronika Dolar – is planning other student-engagement efforts to roll out during the Spring 2018 semester, including sidewalk displays and social media outreach platforms.

Up to Us – which claims to have engaged more than 436 campus teams and collected more than 58,000 signed pledges since 2012 – bills itself as “the only nationwide, campus-based campaign focused on building a sustainable economic and fiscal future for America’s next generation.”