Baruch College Students Win ‘Up to Us’ National Policy and Advocacy Competition
July 29, 2021
Baruch College undergraduates Nayancie Matthews (’22) and Tasnia Hussain (’22) won the ninth annual “Up to Us” Campus Competition, a national program that empowers students to educate peers on America’s long-term national debt, how it could affect their economic opportunities, and what their generation can do to have a voice in raising awareness of these fiscal challenges.
Matthews and Hussain tackled the competition with strategic thinking, leadership, and targeted networking to develop a creative and effective campaign that won the attention of judges.
Their approach was to tailor a campaign to drive fiscal change and address specific policy priorities of their fellow students and New York City. To begin, the teammates went directly to experts, establishing a partnership with the Office of the New York City Comptroller to discuss the city’s budgeting and debt challenges. Matthews and Hussain also tapped into other city officials such as Nick E. Smith, the First Deputy Public Advocate for the City of New York, to learn ways to help build a stronger economy and a sustainable fiscal outlook.
“Knowledge as a Powerhouse”
“Our campaign focused on ways we could use knowledge as a powerhouse to transfer what we learned about fiscal policy to create action,” said Matthews, who served as the team leader. “Our main goal was to figure out ways to analyze fiscal issues and use students to be the change they would want to see. Through Up to Us, we expanded our knowledge on the economy, developed new skills, and produced thoughtful conversations around our nation’s economic hurdles.”
Matthews and Hussain compiled a database of all local elected representatives, who later attended events they organized to engage with Baruch students on issues such as elections, local matters affecting New York City, and the economy. Additionally, the Baruch Debate Team provided student participants with an opportunity to discuss policy issues and receive live fact checks and feedback from city officials.
This grass roots approach was highly successful. The team generated more than 5,000 interactions during the fall 2020 semester through targeted events, classroom presentations, campus partnerships, and creative social media content.
Cash Prize and a Coveted Invitation
For the win, Baruch’s team received $10,000 after facing off against students representing University of California, University of Delaware and others. Yet their reward was more than a cash prize.
In collaboration with one of the program’s founding partners, The Clinton Global Initiative University, the Baruch students earned an invitation to launch their career at the Up to Us Mentorship Summit. During this event in January 2022, they will be paired with mentors in an industry of their choice, spanning business and entrepreneurship, public policy, economics and finance, marketing, public relations and STEM-related fields.
Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, an Up to Us founding partner, praised the impressive efforts of Hussain and Matthews.
“Through their innovative engagement campaign, the winning Baruch team connected with both peers and policymakers to ensure that their critical voices are part of the debate about America’s fiscal and economic future.”
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