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U.Va. takes first place in first Up to Us competition

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Five students from the University of Virginia won a national competition focused on raising awareness about the nation’s debt crisis.

The U.Va. team took first prize in the Up to Us competition—a first-of-its-kind, six-week challenge to engage students on college campuses across the country on the problems posed by the federal government’s long-term debt.

The U.Va. group was among 10 university teams who took part in the competition. Organizers said the independently developed campaigns resulted in a number of student events, conversations with members of Congress and social media actions related to the nation’s fiscal challenges.

The competition was sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), and Net Impact.

“The Up to Us competition proves that students can play an important role in addressing our nation’s economic challenges,” former President Bill Clinton said in a statement. “The young people who participated in this competition brought passion, energy and creativity to solving one of our most urgent issues, and raised awareness in their own schools and communities.”

The panel of competition judges included Erskine Bowles, a former White House chief of staff and former co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform; Chelsea Clinton, a board member of the Clinton Foundation; Alan Simpson, a former U.S. senator and former co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform; and George Stephanopoulos, anchor of ABC‘s “This Week” and “Good Morning America.”

They singled out the U.Va. team for the impact of its innovative campaign.

The U.Va. team members are Lena Shi, Joshua Lansford, Alan Safferson, Ryan Singel and Amara Warren. The second-place team from Brown University and third-place finishers at the University of Texas–Austin also scored high for their creative and thought-provoking campaigns.

The students from U.Va. will be recognized by President Clinton at this year’s CGI U meeting on April 5-7 in St. Louis and will be awarded a $10,000 cash prize. In addition, team leaders from the other nine teams will be recognized at CGI U for their work.

Each of the Up to Us teams engaged their campuses in a broad discussion about the nation’s fiscal health, altogether holding 55 campus events focused on the debt, delivering hundreds of letters and petition signatures to Congress, fostering thousands of interactions between students and leading people to take more than 28,000 actions to learn more and make their voices heard through social media.

Student teams from the following universities participated for the competition:

• American University
• Brown University
• Georgetown University
• New York University
• Rutgers Business School–Newark
• University of Miami
• University of Michigan
• University of Minnesota–Twin Cities
• University of Texas–Austin
• University of Virginia

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